Many technology professionals become frustrated when connecting Macs to Exchange servers. The frustration typically results from a misunderstanding of Microsoft Exchange technologies. Here’s what Lion users and administrators should know.

Exchange Web Services is the key

When connecting a Mac OS X Lion system, the email server should be running Exchange 2007 or 2010. Microsoft Exchange 2003 does not leverage the newer Exchange Web Services (EWS) introduced with the 2007 platform. iPhones and iPads leverage ActiveSync technology, which is one of the reasons those mobile devices typically work with Exchange 2003 servers.

While there are workarounds for connecting Lion systems to Exchange 2003 servers, including leveraging POP3, IMAP or browser-based OWA technologies, those solutions are less secure and support fewer capabilities. Anyone considering such options should remember that Microsoft suspended mainstream support for Microsoft Exchange 2003 in April 2009. Organizations still dependent upon Exchange 2003 infrastructure should already be planning if not implementing their Exchange 2010 migrations.

Connecting Lion Mail

Assuming an SSL certificate is installed, DNS A and MX records are properly configured, and the organization’s firewall passes the appropriate traffic, you can follow these steps to connect Mac OS X Lion’s Mail application to an Exchange 2007/2010 server:

  1. Open Mail.
  2. Click File and select Add Account.
  3. Specify the user’s name in the Full Name field. Enter the email address and type the password associated with the user’s Windows/Exchange user account, then click the Continue button. Mail will search for the associated email server; users may have to click Connect if Mail reports it cannot verify the identity of the email server.
  4. When the Incoming Mail Server screen appears, select Exchange from the Account Type drop down menu.
  5. Within the Incoming Mail Server field, specify the email server, providing again the user name and password.
  6. Check the Contacts and Calendars boxes if you wish also to synchronize those items, then click Continue.
  7. If SSL is to be used, check the Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) box on the Incoming Mail Security screen and then click Continue.
  8. An Account Summary will appear. Review the information entered to ensure accuracy, then click Create.

Connecting Outlook 2011

Microsoft Outlook 2011 users can configure the application to connect to properly configured Exchange servers by following these steps:

  1. Open Outlook 2011.
  2. Click Tools and select Accounts. If an account already exists, click the + icon and select Exchange. Otherwise, click Exchange Account from the Add an Account screen.
  3. Enter the email address within the E-mail address field, then specify the authentication method. The most common method is likely the default user name and password configuration. Once you supply the requisite information, click the Add Account button (note Outlook selects the Configure automatically box by default).
  4. If Outlook is unable to automatically configure the account, you will need to specify the server address, then click Add Account.
  5. The Accounts screen will then appear. If additional settings must be configured, click the Advanced button. From the Server tab, you can override and update ports and change the server address, among other options. The Delegates and Security tabs, meanwhile, enable configuring delegate users, digital signing, and encryption certificates.