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View How do I stop the warning about non-secure items or mixed content?Tips & Tricks

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I stop the warning about non-secure items or mixed content?
Date: November 30, 2006 11:59 PM
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For some reason Internet Explorer (see UPDATE below about Netscape) is unique among browsers in having an annoying popup warning box anytime a web page viewed over a secure HTTPS connection contains any content that is not secure. It can be triggered by an image in an email message, or an advertisement on the page, which obviously presents no security risk. If you've ever seen this popup you know what I mean:


*** This image is part of this post, not a real popup. Clicking won't make it go away. ***

In Web Mail some users choose the option under "Preferences / Web Mail Options" to use a Secure Session. If you are seeing the mixed content warning, then you have changed this setting. This option is handy for users who are on shared local networks with other users, or on a wireless connection, and don't want their browser traffic (and email) to be susceptible to snooping by a clever hacker. The secure session encrypts the connection to the Web Mail server and protects the content to and from your browser. Users not in one of these scenarios don't have much real use for this setting, other than perhaps a feeling of increased security (usually a misconception), at the expense of slightly lowered performance. That's why we default it to Off. (Note that the login page is always secure to protect you).

A side effect of using the Secure Session option in Web Mail, is that our ads, and content of your own email messages, will often cause this annoying popup message if you use Internet Explorer. The message is pretty useless and fortunately it can be turned off. To disable the message, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Tools menu, then Internet Options.
  2. Select the Security tab at the top, then click the Custom Level button.
  3. Scroll down about halfway to the Miscellaneous section and look for the setting for "Display Mixed Content".
  4. Select the Enable option.

Now you won't have to deal with that annoying (and for most users completely useless) popup message anymore. If you are a rare user for whom this is actually an important warning, you know who you are, and you will know what is best in your own situation. The rest of us will just turn it off.

UPDATE - I've found that Netscape also has a similar setting, but it doesn't come up as often as it does in Internet Explorer. To disable it in Netscape 7/8 go to Edit / Preferences / Privacy and Security / SSL - and uncheck the bottom box that says, "Viewing a Page with an encrypted/unencrypted mix."

View Why does Web Mail have advertisements?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Why does Web Mail have advertisements?
Date: November 29, 2006 5:45 PM
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Advertisements generate revenue that helps us continue to invest in our web mail application. Features like spamBlocker and our recently launched Anonymous Email Addresses are possible in part because of that advertising revenue. There is no setting that allows you to turn the advertisements off in Web Mail. Of course you could bypass the advertisements completely by using software like Outlook Express or EarthLink Mailbox to check your email. But then you wouldn't get the extra benefits and features of using Web Mail.

Advertisements shouldn't slow down Web Mail, as they are programmed to always load last and all features are fully visible and usable without waiting for an advertisement to load. You can click any feature in the page and use it whether or not an advertisement has loaded, and you don't have to wait.

The ads have been a feature of Web Mail since we first launched it several years ago, and they have never been optional. Web Mail is one of the products that we offer free to everyone. But as a paid user you also get Internet access, email service using any software you like (without ads) and all the other things that come with the service, and you also get the convenience of using Web Mail. We understand that ads can sometimes be annoying, but we work hard to maintain a good user experience even with them.

UPDATE - On June 11, 2008 we added an Ad-Free Web Mail Option. Read about it here.

View FIXED - slowness sending and reporting spamBugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       FIXED - slowness sending and reporting spam
Date: November 29, 2006 12:51 PM
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For a few weeks now some users have been reporting very slow response when clicking on "This Is Spam", or on "This Is Not Spam", and also sometimes when just sending an email. I'm happy to report that this was fixed this morning. One of the servers that sends out messages from Web Mail was not working right and was responding very slowly, taking up to a minute to respond sometimes. Those features should be very speedy now. If anyone sees this issue again please do report it.

View Why do I get spam not addressed to me?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Why do I get spam not addressed to me?
Date: November 26, 2006 11:12 AM
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Users often report getting spam messages that don't appear to be addressed to them. The To: line of the message will contain some other address, and the user wonders why the message was delivered to them at all.

The reason is that the To: line and the CC: lines in email are not actually used to route or deliver messages at all. Those are only informational lines that are part of the body of the message, and are called "message headers". And because they have no effect on message delivery, the content of those lines can be anything the sender wants them to be. Well-behaved email software always puts the actual recipients in the To: and CC: lines. But spammers don't follow the rules and don't use email software that follows the rules.

The actual recipient of a message is determined by what are called "envelope headers" which are set during the sending transaction between the sender and the email server. The sending software instructs the email server on who to send the message to during the sending transaction. The envelope headers also contain the IP number of the machine sending the message, and other information about the route the message took to reach you.

To see the actual address a message was sent to, you have to use the View All Headers feature in Web Mail. Most other email software also allows you to view these headers. Look for a header called X-ELNK-Loop. That is a special header inserted by the EarthLink mail server to always show the actual address the message was sent to by the sender. This will be the mailbox that the message gets delivered to, and since our server puts that header in there, it can't be faked.

So when a message shows up in your mailbox it is always addressed to you, but spammers will often hide this fact using bogus message headers.

View How can I tell when a message has been opened?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How can I tell when a message has been opened?
Date: November 20, 2006 7:34 PM
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We are often asked by users if there is a way to tell when the recipient of a message has opened or read the message. There isn't any way for EarthLink to know if a remote recipient has read your message, but there are third-party applications you can install on your own computer that work with some popular email applications like Outlook. These will not work with Web Mail, and I'm not recommending any of them here, only mentioning that they exist. You can find them on Google.

These applications work by embedding some HTML code in the outgoing message so that when viewed by the recipient, it will send a ping back to the application on your computer and tell you when the message was opened. The reliability isn't 100%, as the recipient could be using a plain-text email reader that doesn't activate the embedded HTML, or various security tools on their own computer that will block this mechanism without the user even knowing it was there in the first place. It can also be blocked by your own security software or firewall on your end.

The concept of "read confirmations" or "read receipts" originated in the old days with closed email systems that hosted both the sender and recipient (like pre-Internet online services), so the system could "know" when the recipient opened the message. This isn't possible with messages sent over the Internet except by using software like that described above. There isn't any accepted standard for mail transport systems to support such a feature between remote systems, and privacy concerns would mandate that any such mechanism be voluntary for the recipient.

Some email applications (including Outlook) give you the option to request a receipt confirmation when you send a message, but these require the recipient to be using email software that supports this feature, and the recipient must also approve the confirmation to be sent back to you. This is basically just a reply from the recipient telling you they got the message, it isn't automatic. For techies, Outlook and some other applications implement the Disposition-Notification-To header suggested in RFC 2298. This is not generally supported by Internet mail systems, only by particular end-user applications.

So the short answer is that EarthLink can't tell when a message has been read (and neither can any other ISP), and any other method is only totally reliable with cooperation between the sender and recipient. Asking for a good old-fashioned Reply is the only surefire way to know your message has been read.

View Why doesn't my Vacation Message work every time?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Why doesn't my Vacation Message work every time?
Date: November 8, 2006 6:06 PM
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When users set up an auto-reply message, using either the Vacation Message feature or the auto-reply feature in spamBlocker, they find that not every message sent to their mailbox gets the automatic response. That's correct, not every message sent to you gets an auto-reply, but every *sender* does get an auto-reply. Here's how it works:

The first time any unique sender emails a message to you when you have an auto-reply enabled, they get the response. But each sender only gets one auto-reply per day. If they send a subsequent message within that day, they won't get another auto-reply. If they send another message the next day they'll get another auto-reply from your mailbox. This is by design, and works that way on both the Vacation Message feature, and the automatic reply when you use spamBlocker on High, which goes to senders not yet in your allowed sender list.

This also includes sending messages to yourself. You can only get one auto-reply per day.

There are some very good reasons for this design, mainly to prevent something similar to what is called a "forwarding loop". In this case we call it a bounce loop. What if the sender had an auto-reply on their own mailbox? Then a loop would be started with emails going back and forth as fast as the servers could handle them, until the service melted down and no one could get messages. Or what about spammers that use bogus addresses that can't be replied to? Same thing would happen, your auto-reply would go to a bogus address, that message would bounce back to you with a "user unknown" error, prompting your mailbox to fire off another auto-reply to the server that bounced you, which would probably cause another message back to you. Etc.

So even though it might confuse you when trying to test it, rest assured that every sender gets your message, but no more than once per day. When you create a new Vacation Message, unfortunately you only get to test it once on your own. You'll need another mailbox or the assistance of a friend to test it again. I know this might leave you with a feeling of uncertainty about whether it is really working or not. But it really is. Here's one suggestion that I use myself. Go to My Account and set up another mailbox or two, which takes only a couple of minutes and is free for most subscribers. Then send yourself a message from those and check your auto-reply. Then just delete those extra mailboxes until next time you need one.

View Where did my messages go?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Where did my messages go?
Date: November 6, 2006 8:49 PM
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We see a couple of reports every day in the Feedback mailbox from users who say that the messages in their Web Mail Inbox disappeared. Since EarthLink never deletes messages from any user's Inbox, we take such reports very seriously. If this has ever happened to you, maybe this explanation will help.

In every single report I've ever investigated, the problem came down to a misunderstanding about how email software works. When we check the logs, invariably the messages were deleted by the use of an email software program like Outlook Express or TA Mailbox, that the user was running on their own computer (sometimes inadvertently), and not from Web Mail.

Could we ever actually lose someone's email due to a problem with our systems? Perhaps. But we go to great lengths to make this a very remote possibility. And I'm not aware of any case when it ever occurred. The mailbox was probably emptied by an email program like Outlook Express and the messages are sitting somewhere on a home or office computer, and therefore can't be viewed anymore in Web Mail. Sometimes another family member or coworker may have inadvertently run the email software that has your account set up, and they accidentally retrieved your messages unknown to you. And course, it could have been you, and you either forgot, or didn't realize how the two ways to check email were different. Again, check any computers that have your email account set up on them in an email software program like Outlook Express or Eudora.

When you check email using email software on your computer, the application uses what is called POP3 protocol to retrieve a copy of the messages from our server and put them on your local computer to be viewed by your email software. And unless you have changed the default settings of your software, it then deletes the server copies for you automatically. This is what is meant by "retrieving" your mail. Most email applications do this automatically when they are run, and then continue to do so on timed intervals unless you shut them down.

Web Mail on the other hand, is a way to view messages that are on our servers using your browser. And it does not make any local copies on your computer. So you can check Web Mail from multiple computers and see the same messages, plus any new ones that have arrived. We never automatically delete any messages from anyone's mailbox except Trash and Spam, which are cleaned periodically for your benefit. So when messages go missing from your Inbox, look on any computers that have your email account set up on them and you will probably find it.

If you often switch between using Web Mail and an email software application on your computer (perhaps at work and at home), you may want to set your software to leave the messages on the server. You can find help changing this setting here (scroll down). Then your messages will always be visible in Web Mail. If you do this you'll need to check Web Mail frequently to make sure your mailbox doesn't fill up and stop accepting messages.

UPDATE: here's a concise answer in response to a user's question, which may also be helpful.

And here's another article where I've updated this information and explained it in more detail.

View High-priority open bugs as of 11/04/06Bugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       High-priority open bugs as of 11/04/06
Date: November 4, 2006 11:07 AM
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Here is a list of some current user-facing issues that are high on our list to fix in upcoming releases:

  • (FIXED) In preview mode, some users can't select messages. See details and workarounds here.

  • A few users can't type anything into an html (rich text) message. See details and workaround here.

  • (FIXED) Trash folder contents are being deleted sooner than the preference setting. See details here.

  • Can't reply inline with quoted original html message. The bar on the left margin that indicates the original content, doesn't break to allow inline entry of your reply, and the reply must only be above or below the original message.
  • (FIXED) After Moving/Deleting the last message Web Mail should then display the remaining last message in the list.

  • (FIXED) Importing Address Book contacts with multiple email addresses cuts off the non-default addresses.

  • (FIXED) Text type file attachments will not allow you save/view them except for inline.

  • (FIXED) When forwarding, there is no indication of attached files being forwarded (although they are).

  • (FIXED) On the message listing, message line spacing is now too high by about 20% in 5.11.2.

  • (FIXED) Plain text compose font size is slightly different when editing than size when viewing plain text messages.

  • (FIXED) Rich text compose font size is slightly different when entering it than when viewing the received message.

  • Firefox browsers which do not have WMP set as default player cannot play audio captcha on the Allowed Sender request page.

  • (FIXED) The audio captcha only works on Windows.

  • Rich text compose does not work with MAC/IE and Safari.

  • Web Mail doesn't honor "Content-Disposition: inline" headers. This may cause some content to show up as an attachment when the sender intended it to be part of the message body.

  • (FIXED) Web Mail cannot display .eml files forwarded from TA mailbox or other clients.

  • Web Mail login.jsp file does not cache resulting in longer startup time.

  • (FIXED) Pasting html text into webmail compose doesn't always work right.

  • (FIXED) Auto-add address prompt on send should be automatically enabled with SB on High.

  • Delete from Suspect folder does not put in trash but deletes permanently.

Please report other issues either here or by using the Feedback link in Web Mail.
View FIXED - Trash is being deleted before my settingBugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       FIXED - Trash is being deleted before my setting
Date: November 3, 2006 3:40 PM
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In Web Mail preferences you can set the automatic deletion of the Trash Folder to 1, 7, 14, or 30 days, or Never. Currently there is a bug where Trash is auto-deleted at a maximum of 14 days, and settings higher than that are not being honored.

This bug also exists for the Suspect Email folder if you are using spamBlocker on High. That folder has the same settings.


UPDATE - This bug is now expected to be fixed in around the end of March, so that setting 30 days or Never will work correctly. In the meantime, please don't put email in the Trash that you want to keep permanently.

View Does Known Spam use my storage quota?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Does Known Spam use my storage quota?
Date: November 3, 2006 3:36 PM
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No. Whether you have your preference set to save messages in the Known Spam folder or not, it is never counted in your quota and does not show up as space used in the storage indicator.

The default spamBlocker setting is to delete all Known Spam immediately, and if you click the folder you only see a graph showing how many messages were caught and deleted. If you change the setting to not delete Known Spam immediately, then the most recent 100 messages up to 10 days old are saved, but do NOT count in your quota.

View FIXED - In preview mode, can't select messagesBugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       FIXED - In preview mode, can't select messages
Date: November 3, 2006 11:47 AM
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UPDATE - FIXED! See release notes.

Since 5.11.2 was released we've had a few reports of users who are using the preview mode (Show Preview at upper right of page) and they report not being able to click and select messages to view. The first message in the list shows up fine, but others can't be selected.

You can turn off the preview mode until we get this fixed, and then messages will view fine. This can be toggled at the upper right of the page by clicking Hide Preview, and can also be set in preferences.

Check this other bug report for some other possible workarounds.

If anyone can provide more information to help us reproduce this, please post it here.

View Web Mail 5.11.2 released 11/3Releases

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Web Mail 5.11.2 released 11/3
Date: November 3, 2006 9:37 AM
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Version 5.11.2 was released in the wee hours this morning. This is a maintenance release that has some significant improvements, and a lot of bug fixes. If you find that any bug fix listed below still happens to you, please report it here as a comment and we'll see it. We have some other exciting releases coming up that will be described in the Plans category. Here is a list of most of the changes in this release:

  • Color & Graphics compose mode (html messages) should now work on most browsers except Safari. Up to now it only worked on Internet Explorer. You should see a new toolbar in the compose view. Safari will be added soon.

  • Spell-check should now work on html messages as well as plain text messages.
  • Spell-check should now work on most browsers.

  • The Allowed Sender Request form (when you use spamBlocker on High) now has an audio CAPTCHA option for visually impaired users that can't read the image CAPTCHA (human verification). At the moment it only works with some audio configurations. It will be enhanced in the next round.
  • The problem with the Back button having to be clicked three times is fixed.
  • The address autocomplete feature now has a loading indicator for large address books, so on the first compose of a session you will know when it is still loading.
  • The bug that caused autocomplete to fail if you had a contact name containing an apostrophe, is fixed.
  • Support for 800x600 displays is fixed so that you don't have to scroll the main window horizontally.
  • All banner ads now load last after all other content, so they should never cause a delay. All features are usable before the banners load.
  • Seaching for a word in the To header now includes the CC and BCC headers too.
  • The bug with a long CC line causing the page to expand horizontally is fixed.
  • The bug where the selected message in preview mode was not highlighted is fixed.
  • Certain special characters (including % and !) that are supposed to be allowed in email addresses, are now supported.
  • Various minor bugs in the Address Book were fixed.
  • Fixed the bug that caused an error when sending, "Due to a problem with your browser, your message cannot be sent. It has been saved in the Drafts folder." This was an incompatibility with users running Norton Security.
  • The forwarding preference now allows setting up to 10 forward addresses.
Please check the Bugs section for information on some other outstanding problems we are working on, and check Plans for other new things on the horizon.

This release also added support for a new Address Book backend that will be coming up soon, enhancing the functionality of our Address Book. More on that later.

View Can't type anything into a new message or replyBugs

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Can't type anything into a new message or reply
Date: November 2, 2006 11:18 PM
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When attempting to write a new Color & Graphics message (HTML mode), or reply to an HTML message, you are unable to type anything in the message body. This bug is caused by the "banner blocker" feature of Norton Security (and perhaps other ad blockers too), and we may not be able to fix it in Web Mail. For some reason the banner blocker is seeing our text entry window (for techies, it's an iFrame) as an advertisement and blocking it. There are three ways to get around the problem:

  1. Turn off the banner blocker feature of Norton Security.
  2. Change to plain text mode when composing.
  3. Go to Preferences and turn on the option for Secure Session. This enables HTTPS for the entire Web Mail session, and not just at login, which is the default setting. Note that if you are using Firefox or Mozilla this is going to make pages load a lot slower. Using the Secure Session will encrypt the web page so that Norton Security cannot see the content, and thus won't cause the problem anymore. Note that if you are using Internet Explorer, by default you may get security warnings about "Mixed Content" due to the banners on the page not being retrieved from a secure site. You can disable this warning in Internet Explorer by clicking on Tools / Internet Options / Security / Custom Level / Display Mixed Content / Enable.

See this article for additional information about using the Secure Session.

View Why is the Blocked Sender List limited to 500?FAQ

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Why is the Blocked Sender List limited to 500?
Date: November 1, 2006 10:28 PM
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Users often try adding every spam sender to their Blocked Sender List and quickly run into the 500 address limit. Then they ask why they can't add more. There are two reasons, but the main one is that we haven't done a good enough job of educating users about the purpose of the Blocked Sender List, and what it can and can't do for them.

Adding every individual sender of a spam message to your Blocked Sender List is a losing battle and will never be successful at controlling spam. The majority of spam has random From addresses and made-up domains, and the return address is almost always bogus. A lot of the worst fraudsters will actually use harvested "real" addresses for their From address, that go back to some unsuspecting user. So adding these bogus addresses to the Blocked Sender List is unlikely to block any subsequent spam. You will run through 500 one-time throwaway addresses in a very short time, and your list will be full but won't be doing anything to control spam.

There are however, "honest" spammers (relatively speaking) that do use real addresses, and these are usually marketing companies or web sites that have you on their mailing list and don't make it easy for you to get off their list. Or perhaps they bought your email address in a bulk mailing list and never really had your permission to send solicitations to you. These are the kind of senders that you can effectively stop by using the Block List. They use a real return address, they have a legitimate web site, but you just don't want to be on their mailing list anymore. For this reason, when you click on the This Is Spam button, we give you the option to automatically add the sender's domain to your Block List. So if you are getting email from BigWebSiteStore-dot-com then just use the automatic option to block the domain. This will be more effective, and use a lot less entries, than blocking individual addresses. You should first try to use their unsubscribe link, which really honest marketers provide in any message they send out.

You can also effectively use the block list if there is a specific known sender you want to block, one that you know is using a real email address. To do this, you'll have to go directly to the Block List page by clicking on Spamblocker then Settings, or by clicking Preferences then Blocked Sender List.

I said there was a second reason for the limit, and it has to do with maintaining good performance for all users. We accept over 100 million incoming messages a day (thousands every second at times), and that is not counting the many known spammers that we block by IP number and don't accept their email at all. Even with our limit of 500 for your Blocked Sender List, if all users had a list of 500, and we had to process every single incoming message through this filter to make a delivery decision, the system would slow down a lot. Not all users use the feature, but it is easy to see that the larger the list, the slower all incoming email will be for everyone, and in fact the queue could back up to the point that messages couldn't be delivered. If we allowed large list sizes, then everyone would suffer and the larger lists still wouldn't be much of a benefit.

If you want a much more effective way to control all spam, then consider using spamBlocker set to High. This uses the reverse of a Block List, and instead uses what we call an Allow List. At this time, your Allow List is equal to the list of contacts in your Address Book. So you can allow any sender by adding them to your Address Book. The default setting in your Preferences is to automatically prompt you to add all addresses to your Address Book when you send a message to them or reply to them. For those who send to you first, they get an autoreply (which you can customize) to fill out a one-time form asking to be added to your list, and you will then get a request in your Inbox to add them and allow their messages.

Learn more about using spamBlocker on High here.

In the near future we'll be separating the Allow List and the Address Book contact list, so that you can manage them independently. I also would like to add the ability to block top-level domains, so you could block all messages coming from some remote country you never heard of. And I'd like to add things like being able to sort and manage your list more effectively, automatically remove addresses in a domain you subsequently add, and more. These things are on the list, and hopefully we'll get to them. Other suggestions are welcome.

View Ask Email GuyGeneral

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Ask Email Guy
Date: November 1, 2006 11:55 AM
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What kind of Web Mail problem are you having?

Before posting your question here, check the Frequently Asked Questions
-- and --
use the Search feature
to to see if your question has been answered before.

This thread is intended for problem solving, not general support. But If you don't find answers anywhere else, then ask your question here and I'll try to help. Be sure to read the Ground Rules.

Click here to Post or click the Comment link.

View Tell Us About ItGeneral

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Tell Us About It
Date: November 1, 2006 7:14 AM
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Use this open forum to suggest a new topic, a new feature, or comment about something you can't find anywhere else on this site. If your comment leads to an interesting discussion I'll start a new topic entry and copy your comments there if appropriate. This is an open thread, but with some reasonable limits. Please read the Ground Rules.

If you want to ask a question for the host, a better place is the Ask Email Guy section.

Try using the search feature to see if your topic has already been opened. If you find it then that would be the best place for your comments. If you don't find it, please put them here.

Click here to Post or click the Comment link.