Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thunderbird and Exchange / OWA

Thunderbird does not work natively with Exchange/OWA.  That is the short answer I have been giving people for a long time.  In the past few days I have stumbled upon some software that is designed to sit between you and the exchange server and act as an interpreter.  That would be DavMail.  DavMail is not new, and like Thunderbird is an open source project so there are no licences to buy.   You simply download it and install it.

How does this affect the situation of using Thunderbird with Exchange servers?  It changes everything!

Until now we have been able (on some occasions) to convince the exchange server admin that turning on IMAP on exchange was a good idea, but for every success there have been probably a dozen failures and out of the box Exchange is totally inaccessible to standards compliant mail programs.  Evolution, Thunderbird, even the OSX Mail program can all benefit from this software because it make exchange 'just another mail server'.  The real beauty of this is that it does it's magic  from your computer so you don't need to go cap in hand to some system admin to ask them please do something, you simply install it an go from there.

When I installed the software it was simple, painless and just worked.  What is different is the way you set up accounts in Thunderbird.  Because you have put all he remote locations into DavMail, the server names you use are not the ones you would expect from the information provided by the Exchange administrator.  The server names for Thunderbird are simply localhost.  The user names are Domainname/username and will be the same as you use for OWA.

The instructions given for setting up mail accounts on the web site are only for version 2 of Thunderbird.
To setup in Thunderbird 6 and latter do the following.
Give the account setup wizard your mail address and your correct password and click next. it will look for settings and fail.

Once you get to the unable to detect your settings, manually edit the entries in the dialog as shown below. Remember to put your OWA signon in to the box at the bottom.

When you click the Re-test button, Thunderbird will show it has found your account settings and proceeds to allow you to create the account.

You are done, you have your Exchange/OWA account in Thunderbird. You can now add calendars and address books as shown on the MailDav web site.

 For those using Linux there are instructions on UBUNTU here 


The ExQuilla add-on supports Microsoft Exchange 2007 and later and is now available in Beta from the Mozilla Addon site. When used in conjunction with the Exchange calender provider for lightning  most Exchange features are available directly within Thunderbird


  1. Cool! Thank you for the hint. Does it work with the new Mozilla Lightning 1.0?

    1. Yes it works with all versions of Mozilla software

  2. HI Matt! I was able to get TB 9.0.1 email to connect via OWA and the DavMail Gateway with my office's Exchange Mail Server. With the Lightning 1.1 extension I was also able to get the Calendar function to sync up too. However the Address Book is not syncing. When I follow the Directory instructions on the DavMail website at, there is mention of a SOGo Connector Thunderbird extension; however it doesn't work with TB 9.0.1. Is there any other way in TB 9.0.1 to get an Address Book to sync up via OWA or ? with a MS Exchange 2010 server? Please advise. Thanks!

  3. Thank you very much, Matt. :)

    TB 9 versus exchange 2003: 1-0


  4. Thank you much. it works great! Finally got exchange on thunderbird...!!yay

  5. Glad it worked for you. Too bad the SOGO extension that's key to this whole thing doesn't work with any recent Thunderbird unless you're militant enough to recompile it yourself.

  6. Matt,

    Had been trying to connect to our server so I could get personal email and work email together offline. Was for personal setup so did _not_ want to had to ask our sysadmin (a great cooperative guy!) for a special favor just for me. Did the DavMail and is working great.

    Thanks very much for this!

    Loving Thunderbird so far :-))


  7. What if Exchange Server is configured in "Mail" option of Cobtrol Panel of Windows Xp?

  8. What is puzzling to me is the fact that I can easily connect my iPhone to an exchange server with working calendar, contacts, and mail sync. What does the iPhone mail app do that Thunderbird cannot?

    1. Speak the emapi email language that exchange uses. Thunderbird is 'standards compliant' EMAPI is not included in the standard. That is because EMAPI is a proprietary protocol owned and licensed by Microsoft. I would guess that Apple purchased some sort of License from Microsoft. Mozilla will not.

  9. I love it! I now can do email again my way. It works with Thunderbird 85 (I mean Thunderbird 14)>

  10. It is painless even without davmail. I used to work with DavMail, it works fine, but I did not like the dependency of running a third application as a service. Now not using Davmail, here you can find the instructions -

  11. Thanks for the hint. Everybody told me before that thunderbird and pop3 will not work for exchange server, but it worked perfect within half an hour without the need of help by the admin. Great!
    It is even possible to run DavMail without installation, just copy the program directory and execute davmail.exe.

    There is just a problem with a wrong email address when defining calendar entries. At our exchange server, the user name is different than the email address, and I get "" as address (only) for calendar events. I am not aware if this is a problem of davmail or thunderbird. Does anyone have exerience or hints regarding this?

  12. Hi Matt, I need your help to configure Thunderbird 17.0.5 for my office exchange server mail id in my system. Could you please help me on this.


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