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This document provides some instructions on how to best setup an email account and prepare your devices and email client software properly for working with your new email account.

If you plan to only use the web interface for email, you can probably skip this document.

If you plan to use a mobile device or computer program to check your mail, this document will be helpful.

If you have ever used email services like AOL, Microsoft Outlook (or Hotmail), Google Gmail, or Yahoo! email, you may have noticed a very easy setup on Apple computers and mobile devices. You simply enter your email address and password for the email account to be automatically configured on your device.

However, when using another service, like an email account from your hosting company or Internet service provider, there will be some additional manual setup and considerations.

Below are four sections identified as four “steps” to properly setup an email account and access it. Below these four sections you will find further reading that is important information for understanding how email systems work.

The information on this page is accurate as of 17 Sep 2021. Similar information can be found on the DreamHost website. However, these instructions are organized on a single page for convenience and written to be easily followed by most users.

STEP #1: DreamHost Email Account Setup

Follow these instructions to perform the initial one-time setup of the email account.

  1. From the main DreamHost Dashboard, click on Mail.
  2. Under the Mail option, choose Manage Email.
  3. Click on the Create New Email address button.
  4. Provide the email address by entering the portion of the address to the left of the @ symbol. For the domain name, choose from the drop-down list shown to the right of the @ symbol.
  5. For Mailbox “Name” type in your name as you would like it to appear to recipients of your email messages. If you have a home and work account, you could put Your Name – Home for the home account to distinguish it from your work account.
  6. Provide a password for your email account.
  7. For the “Limit total disk usage” option, remove the checkmark. This will provide up to 25 GB of storage, but be careful not to get too close to that limit because it can cause problems on the email server.
  8. For “Email me daily warnings” leave the checkmark to receive alerts when the mailbox gets full.
  9. For “Remove read messages when inbox reaches” option set this to 1,900 instead of the default of 250. This will avoid having messages moved to the old-messages archive too soon.
  10. For the “Remove read messages from inbox older than” option set this to 700 instead of the default of 45. This will avoid having messages moved to the old-messages archive too soon.
  11. For the “Even remove unread messages” option have no checkmark in the box.
  12. For the “Save removed messages” option be sure to leave the checkmark in that box to avoid messages being inadvertently deleted. You could use the default folder name of old-messages since that is a standard used by DreamHost. Or you could change this to Archive.
  13. For the “Email me when messages are removed” option, leave the checkmark to ensure you get notified if your limits are reached and messages are being moved to the old-messages folder.
  14. Click the “Create Address” button.

It will take a few minutes for the account setup to complete. Wait for about 3 to 5 minutes and then continue to the next step.

STEP #2: DreamHost Email — Initial Use

Before setting up any email client software, it is best to use the DreamHost webmail interface to allow the proper default folders to be created. Follow these steps for the initial setup:

  1. SEND. Write an email and send it to another account, preferably another account of yours. This will create the Sent folder on the DreamHost system. Note that the name “Sent” is displayed, but the hidden actual name of the folder on DreamHost is “Sent Messages.” So, “Sent” is sort of a simple shortcut name that works.
  2. DELETE. From another email account, send an email to your DreamHost email address. When it arrives, delete it. This will create the Trash folder on the DreamHost system.
  3. DRAFT. Compose a new test email message and instead of sending it, click the Save button in the top of the message area. This will save a copy of the message in a folder called Drafts.
  4. REVIEW. At this point, if you click on the Mail icon in the webmail interface, you will see the folders that have been created in the steps above. This is a good confirmation of your work so far.
  5. CREATE FOLDERS. For the additional folders required, you will need to create them manually.
    1. Click the Settings gear icon in the left column of the webmail interface.
    2. Click on the Folders option. You will see the current folders listed.
    3. Click the + Create option button at the top.
    4. Type in a folder name and press the Save button. Your folder will be created.
    5. Perform these steps to create folders for Junk, Archive, and old-messages.

It is best to keep the number of folders on any email system to a minimum. Avoid the pitfall of having dozens of folders. Instead, use the search feature.

STEP #3: Setup Client for DreamHost Email Access

The method for setting up email access is different depending on the device and software you are using. Below are steps for Apple Mail on iPhone or iPad. The general settings will be the same for other systems.

  1. Go to Settings > Mail > Accounts > Add Account.
  2. From the list of email services choose Other.
  3. From the Add Account page, choose Add Mail Account from under the MAIL heading.
  4. Provide your name, email address, password, and a description for the account. The description is how it will show up in the Mail program.
  5. The New Account settings list will display and need to be filled in. Some of the information will already be provided.
    • Name: [This will show what you entered in the previous step.]
    • Email: [This will show what you entered in the previous step.]
    • Description: [This will show what you entered in the previous step.]
    • The next few items are for Incoming Mail Server
    • Host Name:
    • User Name: enter your email address here
    • Password: [This will show what you entered in the previous step.]
    • The next few items are for Outgoing Mail Server
    • Host Name:
    • User Name: enter your email address here
    • Password: enter your password here
  6. Tap Next in the top right.
  7. You will see Email and Notes options. It is probably best to use only the Mail option, but not Notes.
  8. Tap Save to complete the setup.
  9. Go to the Mail program and refresh the view by pulling the folders list down. This will result in a check-in and sync with the DreamHost email server. The proper folder assignments should be completed automatically for you at this point.
  10. Return to Settings > Mail > Accounts and select the account you just created. Under IMAP tap on the account name. At the bottom of the screen tap Advanced. Scroll down to find “IMAP Path Prefix” and type the value for this as INBOX. This will ensure that your emails reflect when they have been read, flagged, or replied to on other devices.

Now when you go to the Apple Mail program, the account will be visible. For other mail programs such as Outlook or Thunderbird, seek out the general instructions for those and provide the account details listed above.

STEP #4: Confirm or Set Folder Assignments

The method for setting folder assignments is different depending on the device and software you are using. For Apple Mail on iOS devices like iPhone or iPad, the folder assignments should be automatically setup from the previous steps, specifically the last step where the program performs an initial sync.

iPhone or iPad. Follow these steps for Apple Mail in iOS on iPhone or iPad to confirm that the folder assignments are correct.

  1. Go to Settings > Mail > Accounts > select the account you recently setup.
  2. Under IMAP, next to Account tap on the email address displayed.
  3. Scroll down and tap Advanced.
  4. You will see a list of Mailbox Behaviors which are the folder assignments.
  5. If you have not yet setup folders on the DreamHost server, your device may store Drafts, Sent, Deleted, and Archived emails locally on your device. This could result in them being deleted and permanently lost if you ever need to remove the account from your device — since they won’t exist anywhere else. This is why it is important to have the correct folders setup and assigned.
  6. For Drafts use the Drafts folder on the server.
  7. For Sent Messages use the Sent Messages folder on the server.
    • NOTE: As was mentioned previously, while using the Webmail interface for DreamHost email, you will see the Sent Messages folder is displayed as Sent. This is configurable in Webmail settings. Some email clients will display this as Sent. In the Advanced Settings of iOS, the folder will show up as Sent Messages. Know that this is the same as what is displayed as Sent in DreamHost. The folder listed as Sent Messages in iOS advanced settings will be displayed as Sent in the iOS Mail program.
  8. For Deleted Mailbox use the Trash folder on the server.
  9. For Archive use the Archive folder on the server.
  10. The option for “Move Discarded Messages Into” will be according to your preference. The default and common selection is to move messages to the Deleted mailbox. Some people want the delete function to simply archive messages.
  11. For the “Deleted Messages” remove option, the default of “After one week” may be selected. You can change this to Never if you want to manually review messages before deleting them.
  12. For the “Incoming Settings” section, make sure SSL is enabled, Authentication should be Password, IMAP Path Prefix should be /, and Server Port is 993.
  13. For the “S/MME” section, Sign is set to No and Encrypt by Default is No.

For additional devices, you can repeat the instructions in the STEP #3 and STEP #4 sections above.

Learn More

Further reading is below which will be important for gaining a better understanding of how email systems work.

Automatic Archive for Old-Messages

DreamHost has an email feature that will automatically archive messages. The old-messages folder (mentioned above) is used by DreamHost for any messages older than a certain date which get archived (moved) to the old-messages folder. During the setup of a new email account on DreamHost, you will be prompted to specify a maximum number of messages in your inbox and a maximum age for messages in the inbox. Any messages that exceed either of these limits will be automatically moved to the old-messages folder unless you request to have them deleted instead.

The old-messages folder will continue to fill up until you reach 25GB at which point you may need to delete or move some of your message off the email server. For long-term storage of emails, use email software on your computer with locally store folders.

You may want to use the folder named Archive (created above) for your own archival use. Or you could use the old-messages folder as your archive folder. Some devices and software will automatically look for (or create) a folder named Archive. So, it is probably a good idea to just plan on using the Archive folder for messages you want moved out of your inbox.

Email Archive, Backup, and Removal

An email archive is generally a place to put emails that you no longer want in your inbox, but don’t want to delete. The emails get moved to the archive folder to save them.

Another definition of archive is a locally stored folder on your computer where emails are moved and taken off the email service. This might be done to free up space if you reach the maximum limit and wish to avoid paying for additional storage. It might also be done to ensure emails aren’t sitting in the cloud where hackers might access them.

A backup of your emails can be created by copying your emails to a local folder on your computer, or copying them into another email service for safe keeping.

A backup is typically a copy of something available elsewhere. [Read More] An archive typically contains something that doesn’t exist elsewhere.

Email Folders: Inbox, Sent, Drafts, Junk, Trash, Archive

When an email account is created with DreamHost, the only folder initially present is the Inbox. As explained above, folders are created as they are needed.

Some email software (mail clients) will create folders the moment you configure an email account on your device. So, if the necessary folders are not present, they will be created. Different devices and different email programs have different default names for folders.

  • Inbox
  • Sent (or Sent Messages)
  • Drafts (or Draft)
  • Junk (or Spam)
  • Trash

As you can see in the list above, there can be different folder names depending on the email system and different email programs you use. Ideally, when you setup a device, it will use existing folders rather than creating new ones.

If you end up with multiple folders for similar purposes, such as Draft and Drafts, it will create some confusion. Emails will show up in different folders depending on what system they were created with. To have consistency and continuity between devices, you’ll want to make sure they are all configured to use the same folders. This is described below.

Apple Mac Mail, iOS Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook

Mail client software allows you to check email for one or more accounts simultaneously. These programs have features and ease of use typically not found in the web interface for email services. When you use the web interface for AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or a webmail portal for a website, there may be ads and limited features. So, using an email client has advantages. Below are descriptions of a few popular email clients.

  • Apple Mail only runs on Apple computers, but for those using Apple mobile devices and computers, it provides a familiar interface across all products. Apple Mail can check email for just about any account or service.
  • Microsoft Outlook software is available for Windows and Apple. When paired with Microsoft Outlook email service or business-class Exchange services, it offers enhanced access to calendar, contacts, and other data.
  • Thunderbird is free, feature-rich, and runs on Apple, Windows, and Linux. It provides detailed progress and status on synchronization and other processes better than other clients.

Periodically Checking Webmail

It’s helpful to periodically check the Webmail interface to make sure everything looks okay. For example, you may go to Webmail and see that some email client has created a folder different than one you’ve decided to use across all your devices. You may login and see a Deleted Messages folder that you didn’t create. Check your email clients to see if one of them is configured to use Deleted Messages instead of Trash.

This is usually a problem when the Mail app in iOS or macOS can’t find suggested default folders. In fact, if you go into Webmail and create the default folders after having already setup Mail clients, those Mail clients may subsequently switch to the default folders once they become available (instead of using incorrect folders or local device folders).

Questions or Comments

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