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Close Jump to a page in your message list09/02/08

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Jump to a page in your message list
Date: September 2, 2008 11:06 AM
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Users often ask how to navigate quickly to a page in the middle of their message list when they have hundreds of messages saved. It can be tedious to keep clicking Next, Next...

Currently we don't have a "jump-to-page" feature, but there are a couple of shortcuts you can take. You can increase your messages-per-page setting in Preferences, from the default of 20 to as high as 200. That might solve the problem, but know that over dialup the pages will be slower. Broadband users should all just set this to 200.

You can also use a trick to sort of have a jump-to-page feature. After you have navigated to the second page in your message list, look at the URL displayed in your browser and you will see something like "?start=101" and the number will be in increments of your messages-per-page setting, plus 1, referencing the first message on that particular page. So you can just type over that and hit enter to go to a particular page. In my example, the messages-per-page is set to 100, so I could type 101, 201, 301, etc to jump to any page. The page indicator shows you how many pages you have, so if have 20 pages of 100 messages (2000 messages saved), and you want to jump to the middle, you could enter "start=1001" to go directly to the middle page.

Close How do I insert a picture in the body of a message?02/11/08

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I insert a picture in the body of a message?
Date: February 11, 2008 5:57 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

Users frequently ask for instructions to insert pictures inline in outgoing messages using Web Mail.

Web Mail is one convenient way to access your EarthLink email, but like many other Web Mail services (browser-accessed email) EarthLink Web Mail does not currently have a feature to insert pictures inline in outgoing messages. We will be adding the ability to do this in an upcoming release. Currently you can only attach pictures as files to be opened by the recipient. To add attachments to a message, click on Browse at the bottom of the compose window.

You can put pictures inline using most installed email software with your EarthLink account, including EarthLink Mailbox or Outlook Express. You can download EarthLink Mailbox software here, and get setup instructions for that and other email software here.

Like most other users, I look forward to having this feature added to Web Mail and I'm pushing to get it done as soon as we can.

Close Never put your password in an email message02/11/08

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Never put your password in an email message
Date: February 11, 2008 4:44 PM
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Lately we've had reports of scammers setting up an EarthLink mailbox with an official sounding name like "accountupdate@earthlink.net" or something similar. Then they send out email to all the earthlink addresses they can find (or randomly hit) asking you to "confirm" your account information by sending back your password. They are very clever at making the email look and sound official.

NEVER ever send your password to anyone in an email. EarthLink will never ask any user to do this under any circumstances. If you are ever asked for information like this in an official-looking email, it is a scam, 100% of the time. Do not reply to the message. Once the scammer has your password, they usually begin sending out spam from your account, thus hiding their own identity. This also can result in your own access being suspended due to no fault of your own, and your account can be turned off until you call in and get it straightened out.

When we get these reports or we catch them through our own monitoring, we immediately shut down the scammer accounts. But beware, as scammers are persistent and will keep trying, and we usually can't catch them until after some damage is done. Always safeguard your account information, particularly your password.

If you think you might have been a victim and need to change your password, just click on My Account at the top of any EarthLink web page. Log in there, select the email profile you need to update, and click on the Edit link beside Password. Change it to something new that is known only to you.

Close How do I save Web Mail messages to my computer?01/15/08

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I save Web Mail messages to my computer?
Date: January 15, 2008 2:46 PM
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A lot of users have asked about saving or copying messages from Web Mail to their computer, particularly the Sent copies that are in Web Mail. Some users want to know how to just save a single message as a file (which is easy to do) and others want to know how to move messages in bulk just to free up their online storage space. We can do that too.

There are several ways to accomplish this, but first it is important to understand the difference between accessing your mailbox via Web Mail, or via any other email software like Outlook Express, EarthLink Mailbox, Apple Mail, etc. The two main advantages of using Web Mail are that you can access your mailbox from any browser on any computer, and you don't have to install or configure any software. All messages are stored on the server and you just view them using your browser. With any email software installed on your computer (called POP software or a POP client) you are downloading the messages to your own computer hard drive, and then viewing and managing the local copies on your own computer. Some advantages of this are that you can view or compose messages while offline, and your storage space is only limited by the size of your hard drives.

When you use both Web Mail and other email software, understand that the only folder in Web Mail that is accessible by your other email software is the Inbox. This isn't a limitation created by EarthLink; it is just how the POP protocol works with all email software. POP software (Outlook, etc.) has no concept of online folders, and can only download messages from the online Inbox to your computer. Then once you have the messages on your computer, obviously you can sort and store them in local folders.

If you aren't completely clear on how Web Mail and other email software access your mailbox differently and how they can work together if you use both, then please read this FAQ for more information. It's essential to understand that part first.

        Continue reading "How do I save Web Mail messages to my computer?" » »

Close How do I recover my password?01/07/08

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I recover my password?
Date: January 7, 2008 1:24 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

Since it comes up fairly frequently, I've added this recent Q&A to the FAQ section of the blog.

Posted by: Judy   |   December 27, 2007 1:43 PM
I bet no one has ever done this before. I have my email address and password saved so that I don't have to enter it when I check my emails and for some reason my computer at home lost that information. So now on my one computer at home, I can't check my email any longer because I can't remember my password.

I also have it all automatic on my computer at work so I can check it here but that doesn't help me because I don't know what my password is.

Can you help me find out what it is?

Sure, many people have done this before.

If you have forgotten your password, click on My Account at the top of any page. On that login page, there is a link under the password box that says, "I forgot my password." Click that, and you will be able to provide answers to your security questions that you set up previously. You will then be asked to provide a new password, and change your existing password. Then you will have to use the new one for everything, and the places where you have the old one saved (like in your browser) will also need to be updated when the login fails.

You can also call customer support and ask them to recover the current password for you. They will ask your permission to retrieve it and read it to you. If you don't want them to see it, follow my other instructions above.

Email Guy

Close What do the Forward options mean?10/17/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       What do the Forward options mean?
Date: October 17, 2007 10:54 AM
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Some users have been confused by the new control for forwarding messages.

When you click on Forward, you now see two choices for how you would like to forward your message. These choices have always existed, but you could only change them in the Preferences and then use the same selection all the time. This didn't meet the needs of many users, so we've exposed this option on the compose toolbar. For now you must make a selection each time you want to Forward a message. We will be improving this soon to give the best of both worlds, where you can change the choice inline, or use a single click to use your default choice.

Here's what the two selections mean:     forward-click.gif

Inline text - this means that the original message text from the sender will be copied into your outgoing message body, and you will see it below what you are typing. This allows easy reference to what the sender said when you are responding to it. This option is most appropriate for regular message correspondence.

As attachment - this is the default forwarding type used by some other webmail services. It means that the original message will be sent along with your message, but as a file attachment. The recipient will not see the forwarded message in your message body, but will need to click on the attached file to view the original message. And if that message was re-forwarded several times, the reader might see a common "nesting" effect where you have to click down through several layers to get to the original. This is all controlled by how each subsequent sender handles the message. In the case of complex HTML emails with formatting and inline images, particularly newsletters, jokes with pictures, and things copied from web pages, you are safest using the "As Attachment" option to make sure your recipient gets the exact original message displayed as intended.

In both cases, any file attachments that came with the message you received and are now forwarding, are resent along with the new message. Don't be confused by inline images that are actually remote links retrieved at viewing time only, those files are not included in the original message and not forwarded in your message. Depending on how the original sender set them up, they may or may not go through.

In most cases your selection of inline text or attachment has no effect on how attachments to the original message are handled. In some cases, depending on how well-behaved the email program used by the sender was, you may need to use "As attachment" in order to make sure all of the original content and files are included in your Forward. One major Web Mail service in particular seems to have this problem with their outgoing messages. So if you get reports of recipients not receiving your forwarded attachments, use the "As Attachment" option. Note that this potential problem only applies to forwarding a message already sent to you. When you create an original message and attach a file to it, that file will always be correctly sent to the recipient.

There have been a few reports from users with old browsers that the forwarding selector doesn't work for them. The oldest browsers we test on and support are IE 5.5, Safari 1.3, and Firefox 1.5. On all other browsers (plus these) we test the most recent versions. If you are having trouble with a supported browser, try clearing your browser cache (delete temporary Internet files) and then restart your browser. If that fails, see if there is an update to your browser available for your operating system.

Close Keeping your EarthLink mailbox09/26/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Keeping your EarthLink mailbox
Date: September 26, 2007 1:22 PM
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When circumstances change users sometimes change how they get their Internet access, due to moving to another town, work-related access, or other reasons. We've had a lot of questions lately about how to keep an EarthLink mailbox if you won't be using EarthLink to access the Internet. A related scenario is if your Internet access provider has been using EarthLink to provide your mailboxes, and that provider is moving their email to another place and offering you a new email address. I've also gotten a lot of questions from users in that situation.

In both cases the answer is yes, you can keep your EarthLink mailbox and address. We have an email-only plan for $3.95 per month. If you have an EarthLink mailbox already then you can simply call customer service at 1-800-EARTHLINK and tell them you want to convert your mailbox to a "Premium Mail" account. Even if your EarthLink account or mailbox has already been closed, you can still do this for a few weeks as your mailbox won't have been deleted yet and can be recovered. We can just re-open it for you.

Read more about Premium Mail here. But don't sign up through that web page; you must call customer service in order to convert over an existing mailbox.

Close Why am I getting bounced messages I didn't send?09/14/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Why am I getting bounced messages I didn't send?
Date: September 14, 2007 11:03 AM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

A common technique used by unscrupulous spammers is to use a stolen email address in the From header of their message. Or a made-up one that happens to match yours. So your address might go out to thousands of mailboxes as a spam sender. Many of these messages will bounce since spammers use email lists that are often computer generated and guess at what are likely real addresses to send to. It's common for spammers to guess potentially valid addresses by taking a common username and adding valid domains to it. For example, chances are there will be a " bob@ " at just about any provider's domain. They send out so many that a lot of these guesses will hit. But when they don't hit, some of the messages will bounce back to you, cluttering your mailbox with bounced messages you never sent in the first place.

This practice is fraudulent and illegal, and sometimes the culprits can be tracked down and stopped. But don't count on it, as these scam artists usually relay their messages through compromised computers to cover their tracks. You can find more information, and report these incidents here.

Usually if you wait a few days the spammer will move on to using some other victim's address and you will stop getting bombarded with these bounced messages. Unfortunately there isn't much you can do but wait.

We have some ideas about ways to block most of these "fake" bounces and only accept real bounces. Fake bounces can usually be identified because the original message didn't come from within EarthLink, but the spoofed address used by the spammer was an EarthLink address. We're looking into a method called BATV which can identify these fake bounces for us. Look for an update on this later.

Don't worry about the safety of your mailbox when this happens. Just because a spammer has used your address as the From line in their outgoing messages, does not in any way mean they have compromised your mailbox or have any access to your messages.

Close Does Web Mail support mobile devices?07/31/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Does Web Mail support mobile devices?
Date: July 31, 2007 9:01 PM
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Users often ask if they can access the EarthLink Web Mail site (webmail.earthlink.net) using the browser on their mobile phone or other hand-held device.

Generally the answer is no, as the browsers on most mobile devices are not supported by Web Mail. It may work for you in some cases but we don't really support it, and the display format of Web Mail is not set up for small screens. However, your mailbox IS accessible from most mobile devices using the email software (POP3 application) that comes on the device. If your device has email software, then the settings to use are:

  • Outgoing server set to smtpauth.earthlink.net

  • Port for outgoing server set to 587

  • Authentication is required for sending (outgoing), and enter your full email address for the login, not just the username part.

  • Incoming server set to pop.earthlink.net (or pop.mindspring.com or pop.otherdomain). Account type is POP.

If your address is not @earthlink.net then you can look up your exact server names here for any domain we support.

If your software does not allow setting the outgoing port to 587, you can try entering the server name as
all on that line. If that doesn't work, you will have to use the outgoing mail server provided by your phone provider instead of smtpauth.earthlink.net.

In the future we may provide a WAP site for accessing email from mobile browsers. In the meantime, use any email program on your mobile device instead of the browser.

Close How do I automatically forward all my email?07/17/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I automatically forward all my email?
Date: July 17, 2007 4:25 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

User "Ron" (among many others) posted this question to Ask Email Guy:

Can I have my email automatically forwarded to another email address?
Sure. In Web Mail click Preferences / Email Forwarding, and set the address there. All incoming messages will then have an exact unmodified copy automatically forwarded to the address you specify, and the original will be kept in your local mailbox unless you uncheck the option there to keep a copy. If you won't be checking the local mailbox at all, you may want to turn off the option to keep copies so that you don't fill up your storage quota.

Email Guy

Close What happens when I report spam?04/23/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       What happens when I report spam?
Date: April 23, 2007 6:58 PM
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Users wonder if anything really happens when they use the "This Is Spam" feature in Web Mail, since they usually don't see an immediate result. We hope to add some features later that allow you to see reports about the effect of your own reporting. But in the meantime, know that several very useful things do happen, and please continue to use that feature. Here are some of the things that happen when you report a message as spam:

  • The IP number of the message origination is automatically checked against public blacklists of known spam sources, and against lists of dynamic IP numbers. A dynamic IP number is one reserved for assignment to individual end-user's computers on a per-connection basis and should never be hosting a mail server that originates messages. So email that comes from a server at a dynamic IP number is almost always being generated by spam-bots on compromised computers (search Google for "bot-net" for more info). When an actual human user sends email they should be sending through a legitimate mail server hosted by their provider, or they host their own mail server on a fixed IP number that they own. So when you report a message as spam, and the originating IP number is found to be a dynamic IP number, that IP number is added to a global block list at EarthLink and no more email is accepted from that IP number. So in these cases, the result of your report is almost immediate. That doesn't mean you won't get more spam from the same sender, since the spammer may use a large bot-net that contains many compromised computers. But at least one source gets blocked, and over time many do. Our IP block list has over 200 million blocked numbers at any given time.
    Note that the IP block described above does NOT result in blocking a real user from sending legitimate email, as they will be using the *outgoing* mail server set in their email software, which is not the same as the mail server where EarthLink accepts incoming email from other servers (MX server). Only connections to the latter are blocked, which doesn't affect anything legitimate that a user is doing, it only blocks the spam-bot mail server running on the unsuspecting user's computer.

  • If the originating IP number is found on a public blacklist of known spam sources or open proxies (such as the CBL), your report results in it being blocked from sending any more email to EarthLink users, just as described above.

  • The messages you report are compiled and analyzed along with all other reported spam, to create new content-based filtering rules that recognize the characteristics of that particular spam, but in a way that prevents false-positive blocking of legitimate messages. Not every spam report can result in a new rule being created, but when a critical mass of similar spam is reported, it does often result in a new block being created. Once a rule is created, those messages are then flagged as Known Spam for all EarthLink users, and deleted according to your own account settings.

  • The total count of reports from the "This Is Spam" feature is closely monitored and tracked, and when we see that number going up or down, we know how effective our efforts are at blocking spam.

So yes, we do act on your reports of "This Is Spam". Please do keep using this feature. And watch for some news later this year about us creating ways to give you more insight into the direct effect of your own reporting.

Close How do I add another email address?04/19/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I add another email address?
Date: April 19, 2007 6:06 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

I've answered this question enough to warrant adding it to our FAQ list now. There are a couple of pending comments with the question again, so I'll just answer it here for everyone and add it to our FAQ.

Click on "My Account" at the top of any EarthLink page. Log in there with your primary account (might be your only one if you have never done this). Then click on Profiles. Most accounts allow up to eight profiles (mailboxes) with no extra charge.

Close What is the size limit for messages and attachments?02/28/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       What is the size limit for messages and attachments?
Date: February 28, 2007 10:40 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

The total allowed message size at EarthLink, including the message text and all attached files, is 10MB. This limit applies to both incoming and outgoing messages, and applies whether you use Web Mail or other email software.

A 10MB limit is used by most major email providers, so even if we allowed larger limits, many of your recipients wouldn't be able to receive the file. Email isn't really a suitable medium for moving around very large files, and was never intended for that use. If you need to give someone a large file, use one of the many free services that let you upload any size file and then email a link to your recipient to retrieve it. Or post the files on your own web site if you have one.

For techies: we also make an allowance for the MIME encoding bloat so that you can actually send or receive a 10MB file. Some services advertise a 10MB limit, but enforce it after MIME encoding, so that you can actually only send about 6.5 MB in attached files on those services. We allow a full 10MB plus a little margin. (MIME just refers to a set of encoding standards used to turn all email content into ASCII text for transport, and the email program on the other end knows how to un-encode it. ASCII basically refers to the set of characters you see on an English keyboard, plus a few others. That's why if you "View Message Source" for an email message with attachments, you see a big block of printable text for your attached files. That's encoded binary data.)

Close How do I save (or delete) my login and password?02/23/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I save (or delete) my login and password?
Date: February 23, 2007 8:01 AM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

Users ask for help saving their email address or password on the login page, or help removing a saved email address or password on the login page.

First understand that in addition to the "Remember My Email Login" checkbox feature on the Web Mail login page, your browser also has a form autocomplete feature, and the difference between the two can sometimes be confusing. Your browser has the ability to save all form entries including passwords. Web Mail will never save your password, and only has the option to save your email address.

Leaving the browser feature aside for the moment, here's how the Remember Me feature on the login page works. When you check that option, your email address will be pre-loaded in the login box next time you visit the page. If it isn't working, there are two possible causes:

  1. You are blocking or deleting cookies. The only way Web Mail can save this email address for you is by saving a cookie in your browser. You must allow cookies for earthlink.net to be saved. If you subsequently delete all your browser cookies, the saved email address will be lost.
  2. You may be using an incorrect URL (browser address) to go to Web Mail. You must alway use only "webmail.earthlink.net" for your login page in order for the email address to be remembered. If you are a hosting customer, the correct URL is "webmail.hosting.earthlink.net".
Once you have saved your email address by using the checkbox on the login page, you can remove it simply by unchecking the box, and logging in to Web Mail.

        Continue reading "How do I save (or delete) my login and password?" » »

Close How do I view messages in Known Spam?02/13/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I view messages in Known Spam?
Date: February 13, 2007 8:05 AM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

When you click on Known Spam you will see a a graph of message counts per day instead of a list of messages. The caption at the top of that screen says,

"All Known spam that is sent to your address is currently being deleted. The graph below shows how much spam has been caught by Known spam Blocking over time."
That is the default setting, to count it and delete it. Our false positive rate (flagging a good message as spam) is less than one in one million, so this method is best for most users and allows us to provide better service without storing all of the 100+ million spam messages we process every single day.

You can change that setting by clicking on spamBlocker / Settings and scrolling down until you see the setting that says, "Delete Known Spam Immediately" and just change that to Off. Then you will see a message listing similar to other folders when you click on Known Spam. The most recent 100 Known Spam messages up to 10 days old will be saved in that folder. When a message in that folder reaches 10 days old it will be deleted automatically unless you move it to another folder. If the message count goes over 100 in less than 10 days, only the last 100 are saved.

One reason users get confused about the Known Spam folder is because of a bug in the message count shown beside the Known Spam folder name on the main Web Mail page. That is being fixed in the upcoming release. It should always show zero if the messages have been deleted, and should always show the correct count if they are being saved.

Close How can my other email software play nice with Web Mail?01/28/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How can my other email software play nice with Web Mail?
Date: January 28, 2007 9:04 AM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

This post is a variation on the "Where Did My Messages Go" article I published a while back, as it warrants publishing again. Also, in an upcoming release of Web Mail, a proactive explanation similar to this is going to be incorporated into the First Time User dialog that comes up the very first time you log in to Web Mail, to try and head off this confusion and make sure users understand it when they begin using Web Mail.

Note: everywhere below that I refer to Outlook or Outlook Express, that applies to any email software you have installed on your computer whether it is EarthLink Mailbox, Eudora, Thunderbird, etc. They are all POP3 email clients and all work the same way.)

In the Web Mail Feedback mailbox (click the Feedback link inside Web Mail), one of the most common sources of questions continues to be users who get confused about the difference between Web Mail and other email software like Outlook Express or EarthLink Mailbox. The questions usually take the form of "Why were my messages deleted without my permission?" or "Why did my messages just disappear while I was using Web Mail?" and they often use much more aggressive language than that. These users are frustrated or angry because they don't understand what happened. Then the next time they go into their other email software, their "lost" messages magically appear. Then we get another round of questions with the theme of "Why do my messages go to my Outlook Express, I want them to go to Web Mail?" or "How come I can get my messages in my Outlook at work but then I can't see them when I'm at home?"

This article is going to answer all of those questions, and when we get them in the Feedback mailbox, I'm going to just refer the user to this article.

        Continue reading "How can my other email software play nice with Web Mail?" » »

Close What is that winmail.dat file?01/19/07

From: Email Guy
Subject:       What is that winmail.dat file?
Date: January 19, 2007 4:29 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

User ALWAYSMILEN3 posted the question below in the Ask Email Guy section, and I since this is a very common issue I decided to publish my answer up front here for everyone's benefit. This problem has been around for years now and still frustrates people who receive email from users of the various flavors of Microsoft Outlook.


Posted by: ALWAYSMILEN3 | January 19, 2007 11:49 AM | (228)

My somewhat acerbic response (not at the user) is below:

Alwaysmilen3 - I'm going to break one of my published rules here and give you some help with your MS Outlook software, because this issue is a real pet peeve for me.

That winmail.dat file isn't created by Web Mail. It is a file that is created by Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange, and it is only understood by them. Learn more about it here.

In Microsoft's infinite wisdom they found it necessary to send attached files in a proprietary format rather than use MIME like every other email software in the world does. You can stop this from happening by changing the settings in those MS programs, so that when email is received by a non-Microsoft email reader (like our Web Mail) you won't get a useless winmail.dat file but instead you'll get the real attachment in its original format.

Here's Microsoft's explanation and fix for it: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290809

You'll see them calling this a TNEF format like it is a real standard that other email programs are supposed to understand, but the fact is they entirely made it up and expected the world to support it (or force everyone to use Outlook). In fact, the full name of the format is MS-TNEF. The real standard in use by the rest of the universe is called MIME. Anyway, they tell you how to fix the problem there. Look down to the section that says "How to Specify E-mail Format".

There are also some freeware decoders you can download for those winmail.dat files. Find them on Google.

I generally like and use MS stuff, but winmail.dat has always irritated me in particular since I've never been an Outlook user. Since I felt the need to speak out on this topic, I probably should emphasize my disclaimer here (which appears elsewhere on this blog) that this comment is my opinion, and doesn't necessarily represent the position or opinion of EarthLink.

Ed. Note - Frequent commenter Bob corrected me in the comments below, pointing out that Outlook Express does not create these files, it is only Outlook and MS Exchange. Outlook Express can't read these messages either, and it doesn't even show you the winmail.dat, it just ignores it entirely. Correction has been made above to not include Outlook Express as one that creates these files.

Close How do I delete all messages at one time?12/27/06

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I delete all messages at one time?
Date: December 27, 2006 8:33 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

Users ask how they can delete all the messages in their Inbox (or other folder) without having to do them one at a time, or 20 at a time (default page size).

Click the Folders link on the left, and on that page you can delete all the messages in any folder with one click. Deleting from that page does NOT move messages to the Trash, it deletes them permanently, so use it carefully.

You can also change the messages-per-page setting under Preferences / Web Mail Options and set it as high as 200. Then select all messages on a page at once by using the topmost checkbox. If there is one you want to leave alone, just uncheck it. You can delete or move all checked messages at one time. Note that a higher messages-per-page setting will result in slower loading.

Close Did EarthLink delete my messages?12/01/06

From: Email Guy
Subject:       Did EarthLink delete my messages?
Date: December 1, 2006 10:43 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

EarthLink will never delete any messages from your Inbox or any other folder you create in Web Mail for storing your messages. Only Trash and Spam are ever automatically deleted.

If you can't find your messages, see these articles for help:


(Ed. Note - I backdated this entry as it was created just to put another common form of the question in the FAQ list)

Close How do I stop the warning about non-secure items or mixed content?11/30/06

From: Email Guy
Subject:       How do I stop the warning about non-secure items or mixed content?
Date: November 30, 2006 11:59 PM
Permalink   |   Comment About This

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).

        Continue reading "How do I stop the warning about non-secure items or mixed content?" » »

Close Why does Web Mail have advertisements?11/29/06

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.

Close Why do I get spam not addressed to me?11/26/06

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.

Close How can I tell when a message has been opened?11/20/06

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.

Close Why doesn't my Vacation Message work every time?11/08/06

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:

        Continue reading "Why doesn't my Vacation Message work every time?" » »

Close Where did my messages go?11/06/06

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.

        Continue reading "Where did my messages go?" » »

Close Does Known Spam use my storage quota?11/03/06

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.

Close Why is the Blocked Sender List limited to 500?11/01/06

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.