1. Introduction

These notes cover use of Sociology mail. If you use Duke mail, they are not relevant. Sociology provides a secure, reliable IMAP/SMTP-based departmental email service. A departmental email address is, where userid is replaced by your Linux id. All issues relating to use of Sociology Email should be directed to departmental IT support staff.

Your Duke NetID provides access to an Office 365 mail service, which is a cloud-based implementation of Microsoft Exchange. A Duke mail address is, with netid replaced by your Duke NetID. Receipt of a NetID does not guarantee Duke mail access. Access also requires provisioning of a mailbox, which can be requested on your behalf by Sociology IT staff.

2. Sociology Email Client Options

For desktop and laptop use, more full-featured clients like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail are recommended.

Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads use a variety of email clients, typically supporting IMAP configuration. See the IT staff for configuration assistance as needed.

Sociology email is also accessible through a WebMail client (described below) that provides basic functionality.

Inveterate Gmail users may prefer to forward Sociology mail to Gmail and handle it as a separate account that maintains your Duke identity, thus allowing you to operate within the Gmail user interface. Trinity College policy prohibits anyone who handles sensitive, confidential or proprietary information, as Duke has no business agreements with Google to ensure the safe handling and protection of information leaving Duke. Those in this situation should confine their email use to the Sociology or Duke mail systems.

3. Mail Client Configuration

Any modern mail client supporting secure IMAP and SMTP connections may be used for accessing Sociology mail. Each must be configured to:

We cannot cover all specifics of email client configuration, so we will discuss the common Outlook use case and note the information required for other configuring other clients.

4. Outlook Configuration

Current releases of Outlook are adept at IMAP/SMTP configuration with minimal information required from the user as illustrated below for the Microsoft Outlook 2016 client for Windows.

  1. Open the Outlook 2016 application.
  2. Select File, then Account Settings. Select the dropdown Account Settings...


  3. In the subsequent Account Settings window, click New...

  4. In the resulting Add Account window enter:

    • Your given name
    • Your Sociology email address
    • Your password twice

    Then click Next>


  5. Configuration proceeds:
    • A network connection is established
    • Settings for the account are obtained
    • Login proceeds and a test message is sent.
    If all succeeds, the dialog will report:

    Your IMAP e-mail account is successfully configured.

  6. Click Finish.

  7. With Outlook focused in this newly created account, turn off the folder subscription feature.
    • Click Folder, then select IMAP Folders

    • In the resulting IMAP Folders dialog, uncheck the option:
    • "When displaying hierarchy in Outlook, show only subscribed folders."
    • Click OK

    This will allow any and all folders to display on the left along with the INBOX.

5. IMAP Configuration

IMAP allows you to store your INBOX and folders in a central server location accessible anywhere and from many types of devices. IMAP retains current copies of your INBOX on the mail server and folders under your network home directory. These are included in nightly system backups. IMAP access requires authentication over an encrypted SSL connection.

The information relevant to an IMAP client configuration will include most or all of the following:

Clients vary in how they request this information, but all incorporate it in some manner. You may have the option of storing your password permanently as part of the configuration, or not storing it and the client prompting you each time you open the account. The former is more convenient and generally secure. The last item in this list is the location where IMAP looks for your mail folders. The prefix Mail is a reference to a special subdirectory under your home directory where folders are stored.

6. SMTP Configuration

Sending mail is more complex. Sending a message involves relaying it to an SMTP server, which then begins the process of delivery. When at home or on the road, you are outside the domain, and the Sociology mail server does not trust you for the purpose relaying mail unless you authenticate to it. [This protects against the server being used to relay spam.]

For fixed location PCs, like home desktops, it may be best to use the SMTP server of your Internet service provider. Typically the provider requires no authentication and provides SMTP service on port 25. SMTP specifications for Time Warner Road Runner and Verizon DSL in the Durham area are:

With laptops, tablets and smartphones, use of authenticated SMTP allows you to relay mail through Sociology. The mail client identifies you to the mail server. Once this is done, you are able to send mail from almost anywhere.

SMTP technology has evolved two robust methods of authentication, although the TLS method is preferred.

Both methods require the following information somewhere during the configuration process:

The table below summarizes the key settings for these two SMTP methods for some commonly used email clients. In general either method will work, unless otherwise noted. Under notes see the links which provide detailed instructions for configuring several of the clients. We recommend use of the TLS method. When having problems or in doubt, please contact a computing staff member.

Email Client Secure SMTP Settings and Other Notes


SSL Method

TLS Method (Recommended)


Mozilla Thunderbird
(Windows or Mac)

* Use secure connection: SSL
* Port: 465

* Use secure connection: TLS
* Port: 587

Do not use the "TLS, if available" option (considered insecure)


* My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication: (./)
* Outgoing server (SMTP): 465
* Use the following type of encrypted connection: SSL

* My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication: (./)
* Outgoing server (SMTP): 25
* Use the following type of encrypted connection: TLS

To map your remote folders, open the More Settings ... for your account, then the Advanced tab, and enter Mail/ into the Root folder path box


* My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication: (./)
* Outgoing server (SMTP): 465
* Use the following type of encrypted connection: SSL

* My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication: (./)
* Outgoing server (SMTP): 587
* Use the following type of encrypted connection: TLS

This client does NOT play nicely with the Sociology SMTP server. In lieu of this we specify the Duke OIT SMTP server ( with port 465 or 587). This requires that you also select More Options... and fill in the resulting dialog box with your NetID and NetID password to allow authenticated access through this alternate server.

Apple Mail

Server port: 465
Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) (./)

Server port: 587
Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) (./)

The port specification distinguishes the method used.

Later versions of Apple Mail use a set of default ports (25, 465, 587) and elegantly find the one that works.

To map your remote folders select Mail > Preferences... > Accounts. Select the Advanced tab. Type Mail into the IMAP Path Prefix field.

There are some environments - typically WiFi settings you encounter when travelling - that block the use of third-party SMTP servers. They may require the use of specific SMTP settings that they provide. Your fall-back options are:

  1. Temporarily reconfigure the SMTP settings of your client with those provided.
  2. Use WebMail [as described below].

  3. Use Alpine [as described below].

7. Other Email Client Options

WebMail requires only a browser and may be used from any desktop or laptop.

  1. Open your browser to

  2. Gaining access requires you to first complete the Duke Login with your NetID credentials.

  3. The WebMall login page will open. Complete this login with your Sociology credentials.

WebMail is linked on the departmental resources page.

This service is based on the Roundcube webmail product, for which there are online help pages.

Alpine for Linux - a text-based, keystroke driven mailer, considered pre-historic by most, but reliable - is available via machines with installed SSH clients and may be useful in a pinch.

  1. Open the SSH client.
  2. Open a terminal session to the host

  3. Enter your Linux userid and password.
  4. At the shell prompt, type alpine and press the Enter key.

8. Managing Your Email Alias

When OIT sets up the mail function for a user NetID, they also create an email alias (their term is "full name alias"). This alias is a representation of your given name - with spaces replaced by periods - that by default points to your NetID. For example, the alias bart.simpson might point to the NetID bs432. The purpose of the alias is to provide an email address that others can easily remember - in this case


Proceed as follows:

  1. Open the Account Self-Service link.

  2. Under MANAGE DIRECTORY LISTINGS, select Change your full name alias.

  3. In the subsequent display, change the field below will be delivered to address to your Sociology email address.

  4. Click the Update button.

Note that the full name alias may only alias Duke addresses. You cannot, for example, alias a Gmail address.

9. Email Forwarding

It is advisable to set forwarding of your secondary Duke email address to the primary one.

9.1. Forwarding From Office 365 to Sociology

If your Sociology address is primary, set up NetID forwarding to Sociology as follows:

  1. Go to site.

  2. Login to the Outlook Web App client.
  3. Select the Settings gear button in the upper right corner and select Options.

  4. Under shortcuts to other things you can do, select Forward your email.

  5. Under forwarding fill in the Forward my email to box with your Sociology email address.

  6. If you wish to retain a copy of received messages under Office 365, check the Keep a copy of forwarded messages in Outlook Web App box.

  7. Click the save button to start forwarding.

Repeat this process and clear the Forward my email to box, if you later decide to stop forwarding.

9.2. Forwarding From Sociology to Office 365

If your NetID address is primary, set up Sociology forwarding to your NetID as follows:

  1. Open an SSH terminal session to

  2. Authenticate with your Linux userid and password.
  3. At the shell prompt type: pico .forward [Note the leading dot (.) is required in the file name.]

  4. A blank editor window will open. Into this window type your NetID email address.
  5. Type Ctrl-X (hold down Ctrl key and type X) to save the file and exit the pico editor.

  6. Type exit to terminate the terminal session.

These steps create a file called .forward. From the time of creation, all incoming mail is forwarded to the address listed in this file. To stop forwarding, open another terminal session and either delete or rename the .forward file:

10. Flagging Spam

The majority of mail flowing over the Internet is spam, so eliminating it is a priority. Much spam is blocked at the Duke perimeter by OIT, which has contracted with a firm called Proofpoint to provide granular filtering of all email coming into Duke. While quite thorough, occasional spam does get through. The Sociology mail server flags questionable mail with a subject prefix of ***SPAM*** and leaves it to the receipt to make an informed decision.

If you want spam-flagged messages to be filtered into a spam folder please contact Bob Jackson.

If you are finding valid messages being consistently flagged, please also bring this to Bob's attention.

Occasional mail gets through containing a payload - usually a link to an external site that is seeking to phish your credentials by posing as a valid Duke site. The IT Security Office issues security alerts for widespread or dangerous exploits.

11. Email Best Practices

  1. Use folders for archiving mail. A large INBOX is burdensome on the mail system, your mail client and you.
  2. It is standard practice to save copies of sent messages in a special folder. The email client does this for you. The name of this folder varies by client. It is best to configure your email client to NOT save attachments that accompany those messages to reduce the size of this folder. Normally you have master copies of attachments saved elsewhere.
  3. When receiving email with large attachments, save the attachments you need to a hard drive and delete the message or determine how to save just the body of the message without the attachments.
  4. Do not set your email client to automatically check for new mail more frequently than every 10 minutes. When time is of the essence, there is usually a manual check for new mail feature you can use for those occasions.

  5. If you use a spam folder, regularly inspect and clean it out.
  6. Do not give out or publish information regarding departmental distribution lists. These are for internal use only. When using such lists, use the blind carbon copy (BCC) field for the recipient instead of the TO field. This protects the list name.

  7. Avoid publishing online your email address or those of your colleagues. [As a deterrent to email address harvesting, the addresses published in our web page roster are graphic images.]
  8. Up-to-date antivirus software is mandatory on desktop and laptop devices.
  9. Beware of phishing attacks. Never divulge sensitive personal or financial information by email. Do not click on suspicious links.
  10. Beware of spear phishing attacks - targeted messages from someone you may know with content intended to induce you to reveal information. If the content is suspicious or unexpected, verify with the sender before opening links or attached documents.

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