Accessing email and address book over my home network?
September 1, 2004 6:55 PM   Subscribe

EmailFilter: I have a Windows XP Pro laptop and an OS X iMac. I need to store my email and contacts on the iMac but access them over my home network from the laptop. How can I do this? [mi]

I used to share my email and contacts between two Windows boxes running Outlook. (I shared the .pst file and accessed it from either.) Now I need to do the same thing between my mac and pc. Simply downloading messages twice is not a good solution. I'm willing to use a different email client.

Can I use Thunderbird to share a profile from the iMac to the laptop? I tried that, but can't get it to work. What are some other solutions?
posted by Sfving to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Does your mail service do IMAP? With IMAP, you leave the messages on the server, so it's cake to access them from anywhere. Much better than POP3.
posted by smackfu at 7:03 PM on September 1, 2004

Response by poster: I looked into IMAP, but my ISP (Cox) only does POP3, and I don't want to change my email address. Also, IMAP won't let me access my contacts from anywhere.
posted by Sfving at 7:16 PM on September 1, 2004

I use Microsoft Exchange at home, and access it through my laptop using Outlook Web Access. Hell, I access it anywhere via the same, and it works great. A little bit of a pain to set up, for sure. But there are also companies that will host an OWA setup for 6 bucks a month or so.
posted by adampsyche at 7:17 PM on September 1, 2004

This is very complicated, but if OS X is as Unixy as they say, this is what you would do (yeah, it's overkill, hey, I'm into that):

- Run sendmail or some other local mail service (I strongly suggest Qmail). DO NOT ALLOW IT ACCESS TO ANYTHING BUT LOCALHOST.
- Run a fetchmail daemon from cron to collect your mail from your various POP3 accounts.
- Run a POP3 service to access your mail. I reccomend akpop3d (easy to set up and reasonably secure).
- You can, alternately, use IMAP, rather than POP3 (more popular but less supported, sorry). I've not set this up (mail is in /var/spool, old skool), but last I heard, imapd from pine was still good.
- Run your favourite email client anywhere. Personally, I just ssh into my server and use pine locally (faster and nicer).

Don't even begin to ask me how to do this. I work on linux, sorry. My hints would be of NO help to you.

Last choice, which is much less portable across the internet, but way easier, is using VNC (or something similar).
posted by shepd at 10:48 PM on September 1, 2004

Use Eudora on both platforms. You can make an alias to the Windows /Mail/ directory on the Mac, in theory. Expect slowness.
posted by joeclark at 4:55 AM on September 2, 2004

Sounds like this won't work for you, but it might for others perusing the thread: achieve your goals with a .Mac account. Works natively on the iMac with Mail and Address Book, works via a browser interface from the Windows laptop, everything is IMAP, the contents of your Address Book are synchronized by iSync... Simple, relatively fast, the message store is backed up somewhere even I can't screw it up... Yes, it's an Apple-centric solution, but for my Macintosh is my primary machine, so the fact that my work laptop only connects to my personal mail via a browser isn't much of a negative.
posted by JollyWanker at 5:33 AM on September 2, 2004

Yeah, I think the answer is to get a real email provider. Of course, you could use Eudora and designate your usb flash drive as the repository for your email, which you would then carry to your other machine. Or run a script that synchronizes your eudora folder with the flash drive. Added bonus of always having a backup of your email. And you can wear that usb thingy around your neck like a dork (I just got one!)
posted by mecran01 at 6:59 AM on September 2, 2004

not a windows/iMac thing, but i used to share a pop3 account between two computers (home and work). set the laptop to NOT delete files from the server, set the iMac the same way. allow both programs to delete files from the server if deleted locally.

next, make sure the contact lists you have on the laptop can be exported to the iMac. thunderbird makes this easy as it's the same file format no matter which platform. just regularly copy the address book file from your laptop profile to the iMac or vice versa whenever you make changes.

you can also export mail messages if needed, as the mailbox files will be the same format on both computers when using thunderbird.

not a clean fix, not as clean as IMAP anyway, but it's low-tech and ought to be easy to implement.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:07 PM on September 14, 2004

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