My company took the Exchange ActiveSync server offline; they want me to use their email client instead of iOS mail (or the Outlook app), in the mistaken belief that this is "more secure."

I thought that when they took this offline, I would also lose connection through OS X Mac Mail (set up in system preferences), because I thought they would use the same protocols. But my phone apps went down this evening and Mac mail is still working.

So this makes me think there could be a backdoor? I already checked and there is no IMAP server. How does Mac Mail connect? Is there a way that I could railroad this vector to get my email back on my phone?


You can get excruciating detail from Mac mail client as follows:

  • open mail
  • select the window menu -> connection doctor
  • tick the log connection detail
  • note the wall clock time and select check again
  • open the log folder and look over the text logs that document exactly what mail servers are being queried, what messages are exchanged between the mac and the iOS device.

If the Mac can still connect, either your exchange setup has a director set up to point to the correct mail server (I believe Microsoft markets that as auto discovery) or it send a reconfiguration message to the mail client to update settings. Safari will also watch for you signing into web mail and offer to set up the mail client.

Best of luck taking those settings to iOS - you might be able to still connect after looking over the Mac connection details.

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Both IOS and OSX can connect to an Exchange server using the Exchange protocols as well as POP and IMAP though the latter two are trivial to turn off on an Exchange server. This may be what your company's email admins have done.

It could be that you were connecting to your exchange server via POP or IMAP. I would try deleting the account on your IOS device and re-adding it. When you are setting it up again you will notice that there is an option for setting it up as "Exchange." Once you tap on that you have the option to tap on POP, IMAP or Exchange. Choose the latter. All you will need to know is your username, password, email address, Active Directory domain and mail server URL (the URL you go to for webmail, often mail.company.com or the like). If you have all of that the IOS mail.app will connect to the Exchange server using native Exchange security and email protocols.

As an aside I use the free MS Outlook IOS app (partly to keep mail, contacts and calendar separate from my personal stuff) and find it to be an excellent email application, well worth a try.

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  • I had been using Outlook as well, but that went down at the same time as iOS mail. – gregmacfarlane Jan 7 '16 at 14:32

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