Forwarding University of Sydney student email

Update: Thank you to all who have con­trib­uted to the dis­cus­sion below. For the impa­tient, here is a sum­mary of what you might like to do:

  • If you hate Sydney Mail, fear not: you have options.
  • To redir­ect your Sydney Mail email to another email account, you can either a) use a “redir­ect” rule in Sydney Mail or b) get your email cli­ent (such as Gmail) to pick it up via POP3 (for this, see the main post below). Both a) and b) do the job.
  • To send email from within Gmail as if you were send­ing it from Sydney Mail, add your Sydney Mail address under the Addresses tab in Set­tings in Gmail.
  • How­ever, some recip­i­ents, such as those using Out­look, may see that the sender of your email is “xyz@​gmail.​com on behalf of abcd1​2​3​4​@​uni.​sydney.​edu.​au”. If you don’t like this, you can fix this by get­ting Gmail to send email via SMTP. To find out the address of the SMTP server, see these instruc­tions.

“Sydney Mail is a new and sig­ni­fic­antly improved stu­dent email ser­vice,” announced the email from the uni­ver­sity proudly.

The truth is that the uni­ver­sity has delivered some­thing that’s bet­ter, but is rather defi­cient in its own right: they’ve out­sourced email to Microsoft so it’s all now run off Out­look Web Access. I could go on and on about why I would never use it, but I’ll just show you how to avoid using it.

The exist­ing email sys­tem allows you to for­ward to a per­sonal email address, and the uni­ver­sity provides instruc­tions for how to do it on the new sys­tem. Don’t fol­low those instruc­tions! It is true that email will be for­war­ded from Out­look to your per­sonal email but what hap­pens is that the emails are lit­er­ally for­war­ded! If Bob sends you an email, when it pops up in your per­sonal email, the From field will show your uni­ver­sity email as opposed to Bob, which is incred­ibly inconvenient.

The solu­tion? Get your mail cli­ent to retrieve mail from Out­look via POP3. If you’re using Gmail like me, go to Set­tings > Accounts. Look for the “Get mail from other accounts” sec­tion and click the “Add a mail account you own” link. A win­dow will then pop up; try the fol­low­ing settings:

Settings

Email sent to your uni­ver­sity email won’t get for­war­ded instantly like it used to, but it’s a much bet­ter solu­tion than the one offered by the university.

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  1. Tommy Chen’s avatar

    Wow, that’s dumb (the for­ward­ing mech­an­ism). You need to pub­li­cise this more. Pub­lish it in the Gavel?

    Reply

  2. Dan’s avatar

    Yes, we will dis­trib­ute this pearl of wis­dom. I can’t see why they can’t have out­sourced this to Google instead of Microsoft.

    Reply

    1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

      It might have been partly due to the integ­ra­tion of Sky­Drive, which lets you store and share doc­u­ments. Google has Google Docs, but that doesn’t pre­serve format­ting 100%.

      Reply

    2. Georgina’s avatar

      I hear that one of the reas­ons the uni­ver­sity didn’t go with gmail (like Macquarie Uni did) was that google wouldn’t (or couldn’t) guar­an­tee that stu­dent data wouldn’t be stored in Singapore.

      The @uni.sydney.edu.au accounts are hos­ted in the US.

      Reply

      1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

        That’s inter­est­ing — what’s wrong with Singapore?

        Reply

        1. Georgina’s avatar

          I really don’t know. I’d like to think that whatever com­mit­tee is respons­ible for this change care­fully con­sidered US pri­vacy /​ anti-​​terrorism laws and stuff, but con­sid­er­ing ICT really didn’t con­sult any­one from fac­ulties… meh. You’re the law stu­dent. I’m going to maths.

          Reply

        2. Martin’s avatar

          Not just what’s wrong with Singa­pore but what’s wrong with Singa­pore that’s worse than what’s wrong with the US. (Like­wise for what’s bet­ter, of course.) There’s a lot more about the deal that I would like to know.

          I would have been happy if usyd mail had just added some stor­age space.

          Reply

          1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

            Actu­ally, one addi­tional prob­lem is solved. People some­times (stu­pidly) used their uni email as their primary email, which caused all kinds of hassles once they left uni. Since this is for life, it’s argu­ably bet­ter than the uni host­ing the email itself.

            Reply

            1. Martin’s avatar

              Once you leave uni they’ll chase you the rest of your life for dona­tions. Alumni magazines will turn up every­where you go. A uni-​​provided life­time email would only help that.

              Hmm. Actu­ally not much of an argu­ment since whether it is external or internal they’ll know the email address.

            2. Nate’s avatar

              Thank god for this or I’d never have found how to get con­nec­ted! Way to go one step for­ward two steps back­wards. I would have been just happy if USyd mail had added maybe a couple of mega­bytes of stor­age space… I just use my per­sonal email for attach­ments and such.

              Reply

            3. Nate’s avatar

              So how do I access USyd email via POP3 on cam­pus? I’m using the SIT cache if that’s of any help.

              Reply

              1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                http://​www​.usyd​.edu​.au/​i​c​t​/​s​w​i​t​c​h​/​p​d​f​/​e​m​a​i​l​/​E​M​L​0​1​0​O​t​h​e​r​m​a​i​l​s​e​r​v​e​r​s​.​pdf

                I’m not sure if it’s pos­sible to access it dir­ectly if you’re on the IT net­work (or even if you’re on the main uni net­work), because none of those ports would be access­ible via the proxy.

                If you have a com­puter out­side the uni that you can SSH into (e.g. one at home) and that com­puter has unfettered access to the inter­net, then you could use:

                ssh –L 995:outlook.com:995 username@​example.​com

                That will cre­ate a tun­nel where out​look​.com:995 is access­ible via localhost:995

                That should work, but I can’t test it.

                Reply

                1. Nate’s avatar

                  That’s another thing, don’t they block ssh out at the uni?

                  Reply

                  1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                    If you are on the School of IT net­work, you have unfettered SSH access out. If you’re just on the uni wire­less, unless you’re con­nec­ted via VPN using the !10 option (for an external IP address) then you can’t SSH out; but with this option, you have to pay for the data used…

                    Reply

                  2. Anon’s avatar

                    This isn’t a solu­tion, it’s a hack. Pulling from gmail via pop just to for­ward it to another account? Bah!

                    And the solu­tion they provide doesn’t actu­ally work, at least not in Firefox.

                    God­dam sel­lout. Someone needs to be shot for this debacle.

                    Reply

                    1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                      Yes, imple­ment­ing such a big change in the middle of semester — what were they thinking?

                      Reply

                    2. lewis’s avatar

                      Agreed with middle of semester, this is caus­ing havok!

                      Also, can any­one else con­firm that the uni’s (new) solu­tion link doesn’t work in fire­fox? Takes me to a broken page.

                      Reply

                    3. Jake’s avatar

                      I went to the set­tings and redir­ec­ted all mail sent to my Sydney Mail account to my usyd​.edu​.au account. 8 Hours later, 7000 emails in my Sydney Mail account and rising!

                      So yeah. don’t try that one.

                      Also I think this was a ter­rible decision by who­ever decided it, and ter­rible timing.

                      Reply

                      1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                        Oh wow, so they… redir­ect to each other, and there’s noth­ing to stop that?

                        Reply

                        1. Matthew’s avatar

                          A redir­ect loop hap­pens ’cause Microsoft stu­pidly remove/​rewrite all the head­ers in the email when it’s for­war­ded, so loop detec­tion doesn’t work. The other server doesn’t see it’s own trail in the mes­sage head­ers so thinks it’s a new mes­sage and duti­fully for­wards it again.

                          Dumb.

                          Have they fixed ‘for­ward’ now ?. Last time I tried ‘Please con­tact your sys­tem administrator’.

                          Reply

                          1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                            Wow, this is com­pletely unre­li­able. I just tried adding the rule again, and the pop up win­dow never man­aged to fin­ish load…

                            Reply

                          2. Ben’s avatar

                            This is awe­some. Want to hear more.

                            Reply

                          3. Danny’s avatar

                            For­ward­ing from out​look​.com sort of works, but doesn’t pre­serve To: header (it rewrites it to be the for­ward address) nor any Received: head­ers before arrival at out​look​.com.

                            This could make track­ing down prob­lems — e.g. with mail­ing lists — rather difficult.

                            Reply

                            1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                              I’m sure Microsoft has lots of bright people. Where are they?

                              Reply

                              1. Matthew’s avatar

                                Work­ing on the Exchange server back end. It’s a large clustered data­base with mul­tiple ‘data stores’ on each node and some how it all has to stay in sync, but with quite short response time as there are 1000s of users click­ing on but­tons and expect­ing ‘instant’ response.
                                The fact that such a com­plex sys­tem can work as well as it does means some one has a group of clever systems/​database people work­ing on it.

                                I sus­pect the OWA UI is rather low down the list of pri­or­it­ies — espe­cially since the sys­tem is basic­ally designed around Office Out­look as the client.

                                Reply

                                1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                                  So the Exchange server where the mail is kept is actu­ally at the Uni­ver­sity and not man­aged by Microsoft?

                                  Reply

                                  1. Matthew’s avatar

                                    No, the exchange serv­ers and OWA front end appear to be in Seattle. It’s not related in any­way to the Exchange ser­vice Usyd runs for it staff.
                                    It just ‘hap­pens’ that the stu­dent ser­vice was out­sourced to Microsoft who nat­ur­ally run it on their own products.

                                    Stu­dent Email has been one of the largest and most vis­ible out­sourcings at Usyd to date.

                                  2. Donna’s avatar

                                    Thanks Enoch! why can’t that just be lis­ted on the sydney mail site and save every­one tons of grief — until I found your site I never came accross the pdf for using other mail servers:

                                    http://​www​.usyd​.edu​.au/​i​c​t​/​s​w​i​t​c​h​/​p​d​f​/​e​m​a​i​l​/​E​M​L​0​1​0​O​t​h​e​r​m​a​i​l​s​e​r​v​e​r​s​.​pdf

                                    Another prob­lem with out­look redir­ec­tion is that mail appears as being sent to gmail rather than the uni.sydney, so when you press reply in gmail it sends it from gmail — not a good look if you are doing a phd and have a bit of external email­ing — our email address is our ‘busi­ness card’.

                                    Reply

                                    1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                                      What you do is set up Gmail to send from your uni.sydney address.

                                      Go to Set­tings > Accounts, and under “Send mail as”, add your uni.sydney address. Fol­low the instruc­tions to get it veri­fied, and you’ll be able to send mes­sages from Gmail as if you sent it from uni.sydney.

                                      Also, under “When receiv­ing a mes­sage”, select “Reply from the same address to which the mes­sage was sent” — that way, when you click Reply on a mes­sage sent to uni.sydney, your reply will by default appear as though sent from uni.sydney.

                                      Yes, that PDF took a lot of search­ing to find; I have no idea why they hid it away.

                                      Reply

                                      1. Matthew’s avatar

                                        My test­ing showed that ‘Reply from the same address to which the mes­sage was sent’ won’t actu­ally work if you use the ‘for­ward’ fil­ter on uni​.sydney​.edu​.au as Exchange rewrites the mes­sage header to the address you are for­ward­ing to, so there is no imme­di­ate way to tell that any par­tic­u­lar mes­sage was for­war­ded.
                                        If you use the POP down­load approach, it will of course work as above.

                                        Reply

                                        1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                                          Good point (although really, Exchange shouldn’t be rewrit­ing headers)

                                          Looks like the POP approach is the pre­ferred option.

                                          Reply

                                        2. Bell’s avatar

                                          Thanks soo much dude. I’ve been pulling my hair out for the last half hour try­ing to work out how to do this. In the end I figured that with a uni the size of USYD, there must be at least ONE per­son who was in the same boat as me, but with much much more tech know-​​how. I thank you for being that per­son :D

                                          Note no short­age of info on how to redir­ect mail TO out­look eh…

                                          Reply

                                          1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                                            You’re wel­come

                                            Reply

                                          2. John Jiang’s avatar

                                            Hey Enoch,

                                            Any idea on what the smtp server for out​look​.com is? Try­ing to get rid of “on behalf of” in gmail.

                                            Reply

                                            1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                                              See my com­ment on 12 May at 1:27 PM. I really should go and refactor this post.

                                              When I send an email using Gmail pre­tend­ing to be my uni email, a recip­i­ent on Out­look sees “on behalf of”… is this what you mean? If so, I know of no way to fix it.

                                              Reply

                                                1. Enoch Lau’s avatar

                                                  Aha. Although the instruc­tions to find out the SMTP server seem rather both­er­some… and although it doesn’t dis­play prop­erly, I’ve never had a prob­lem, say, email­ing a lec­turer from Gmail…

                                                  Reply

                                                2. John Jiang’s avatar

                                                  Neither, but it’s just com­fort­ing to know that the emails are being delivered the way you want it to

                                                  Reply

                                                3. Jimmy’s avatar

                                                  Just wanted to say:
                                                  Thanks mate!

                                                  Reply

                                                4. Daniel Yeo’s avatar

                                                  This was all the help I needed. Thanks!

                                                  Reply

                                                5. Michelle’s avatar

                                                  Help!!!!
                                                  I have tried either ways: a) for­ward­ing emails from uni mail to gmail and b) import­ing emails from the gmail end, boths ways didn’t work!!!

                                                  For a), I tried send­ing myself an email to my uni mail, my uni mail received it but didn’t for­ward it to gmail!

                                                  For b), it says ‘Could not val­id­ate this com­bin­a­tion of email address and password’

                                                  Any idea?

                                                  Reply

                                                6. Michelle’s avatar

                                                  Sorry, please ignore my last mes­senge, I’ve solved the problem!

                                                  Thanks so much!! Great post!

                                                  Reply

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