Leopard or Snow Leopard, hidden inside your Mac is an email beast, ready to be unleashed on the world. No, it’s not OS X’s Mail app, capable it may be.
Your Mac can be a powerful email server, totally buzzword compliant—SMTP, POP3, SSL, SMTP authentication, even IMAP. Total cost? A few years of experience being an email geek, or $15, MailServe, and a willingness to point and click.
Why Bother Serving Email?
There’s three aspects of email. Sending it. Receiving it. And managing it. Mail is fine for sending and receiving email. But managing email on a Mac requires a little more technical experience and the right tools.
One of my favorite and not-too-well-know Mac apps is MailServe.
It’s a delightfully handy utility which turns your Mac into a fully functioning, very powerful email server.
There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes when it comes to setting up and managing a Mac for email, but MailServe does the dirty work. You don’t have to be a full-fledged card-carrying geek, but it helps.
Only The Tools You Need
Mac OS X Leopard comes with all the tools you need to handle email—SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and the popular and powerful Postfix email system.
MailServe is an almost self-explanatory utility that simply turns on all that luscious email serving power (so you can store and send and receive email) with a few clicks.
Mac OS X Snow Leopard users will need MailServe for Snow Leopard, since the latest Mac OS comes with Dovecot, a highly touted, very fast and flexible email system.
What else do you need besides MailServe and a Mac?
Email Isn’t So Easy After All
At a basic level, setting up your Mac to send email isn’t difficult with MailServe. But there are plenty of caveats, conditions, and often some seemingly insurmountable issues to overcome.
First, does your internet service provider allow you to send email through port 25, or do they block it, forcing you to use their own SMTP email server? There are ways around that, and MailServe can handle them, but it’s no longer a self explanatory issue.
Second, what do you want to accomplish by running your Mac as an email server? Send only? Send and receive and store? How much security do you desire? MailServe sets up differently depending on whether you’re on Leopard or Snow Leopard.
MailServe Pro is an extra $10 which includes support for Dovecot as well as custome POP3 and IMAP ports, so already we’re headed into geek territory.
Fortunately, MailServe has step-by-step instructions which walk both new users and experienced email pros through the maze of settings. Sure, it’s all point and click. But sometimes the options make it seem like it’s written in Greek (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I have a Mac mini which, until recently, was running Mac OS X Tiger Server. I upgraded to Snow Leopard, skipping the OS X Server software, preferring to set up the mini with the built-in Apache web server, and using MailServe to handle email tasks.
Best results come if you have a dedicated, static IP address. I’ve found that my little Mac mini gives me about 99.9-percent uptime, almost as good as our ISPs email system. If you’re willing to learn and live dangerously at the same time, MailServe and your Mac makes for an exciting email system which is easily worth the price (you’d spend more on an Email Server For Dummies book (though you still might need one).