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How to Use SSL with an Email Account in Mac OS X Mail

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Email is notoriously insecure. Unless you use encryption, email messages travel around the world in plain text, and everybody can read it.

There is a way to secure the connection from you to your mail server, however. It is the same technology that also secures e-commerce sites: SSL. If your ISP supports it, you can configure Mac OS X Mail to connect to the server via SSL, and all communication is transparently encrypted and secured.

Use SSL with an Email Account in Mac OS X Mail

To enable SSL encryption for an email account in Mac OS X Mail:

  • Select Mail | Preferences… from the menu in Mac OS X Mail.
  • Go to the Accounts category.
  • Highlight the desired email account.
  • Go to the Advanced tab.
  • Make sure the Use SSL checkbox is selected.
    • Clicking it will automatically change the port used to connect to the mail server. Unless your ISP gave you specific instructions concerning the port you should use, this is fine.
  • Close the Accounts window.
  • Click Save.

Note that SSL can reduce performance since all communication with the server needs to be encrypted.

(Updated August 2012)

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