If you're having trouble with sending emails on your Mac, you've come to the right place.

We've gathered together the most common email issues encountered by Mac owners and told you how to solve them. On with the questions...

"Why won't my emails send from my Mac?"

In Mail, go to Window > Connection Doctor and your Mac will test both the incoming and outgoing mail server connections. We're interested in the outgoing (probably SMTP) ones here – double-click any that come up with a red dot.

Make sure the Server Name matches what your mail provider's setup documentation tells you, and check your account information is correct. (Do you need to enter your full email address, or just the bit before the @ sign?)

In the Advanced tab, check the SSL and port settings – these again need to be exactly what your email provider says they should be.

"An exclamation mark has appeared next to my inbox"

To find out more information click the exclamation mark. It may be that your password is wrong – re-enter it. You may also see a longer error message, which could contain a URL linking you to a help page about the problem you're having.

If this doesn't help, your server details may be slightly incorrect. Go to Window > Connection Doctor. First up, check that Connection Status has a green light next to it at the top (if it doesn't, then the problem's lies with your internet connection, and not Mail), then find the account that's giving you grief – it'll probably have a red dot next to it.

email issues

Double-click it and check the server, login and port details in the Account Information and Advanced tabs. Your email provider should be able to tell you all the exact details you need to get up and running again.

"The emails people send me aren't showing up…"

Their messages are probably getting filtered out somewhere. Could you accidentally have marked one of their emails as junk in the past?

If you've got junk mail filtering rules set up in Mail, check these aren't interfering – go to Mail > Preferences > Junk Mail > Advanced… to change them. But junk mail could be being filtered before it comes to you if your email provider has a junk filter. You'll need to contact them directly to ask.

If it's still not fixed…

Look at the logs

When an app crashes and you get asked if you want to send a report to Apple, this can be useful. Find them by opening the Console app in Applications/Utilities and looking under /Library/Logs/ CrashReporter and /Library/ Logs/CrashReporter.

For each event it tells you which thread crashed and what it was doing when it did – the most recent task being at the top – and the events leading up to the crash. Even if you can't understand the information, someone on a forum may be able to.

Search the web

Someone else may have written about your problem. Be specific when you're searching – put in the exact error message, enclose it in double quotes and search for multiple words rather than just 'iPod problem'. Refine your search if the results aren't helping – think about adding words such as Mac OS X or Snow Leopard.

Try the forums

Apple's discussion boards are packed with knowledgeable Mac users. Go to http://discussions.apple.com and log in with your Apple ID. Before you post anything, use the search to see if anyone else has had a similar problem to yours.

When you post questions, put them in the correct category and give as much detail as you can.

Tweet it!

A lot of hardware and software companies have social networking accounts that you can contact them on. While 140 characters probably won't be enough to describe your particular problem, Twitter is a really useful way of making initial contact. Remember, be polite and specific!

Talk to Apple

Whether you make a phone call or go to The Genius Bar, talking to Apple can help. To check whether you're eligible for free support, go to http://supportprofile.apple.com and log in with your Apple ID.

If any of your products are missing, you can register them quickly. Click the right arrow next to an item to see your support options. You'll find a list of contact details for Apple here.

Quick tip

If you've got a firewall between your Mac and the internet, make sure it's not blocking the ports required for email. These differ depending on what mail system you're using and whether it uses SSL encryption.

The key ports are 25, 110, 143, 465, 587, 993 and 995. Check with your provider which it uses for sending and receiving mail.

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First published in MacFormat Issue 234

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