A Palm Pilot. A cell phone. A Blackberry. If you’re one of,
or you support one of, today’s typical power users, these are three devices
that you’ve probably gotten used to supporting in some fashion. You’ve probably
heard the complaints and researched one of the potential solutions, too–the
Treo 600 or 650 from PalmOne. Of course, it’s one thing to find a solution. Once
found, you need to find ways to make the new technology fit neatly (or at least
mostly) into your computing environment in order to achieve the best return and
to keep your support staff from going insane.

Of all of the services your users need on the go, email
probably ranks at the top of the list. Here’s how to configure a Treo to work
with external email services.

Author’s Note

In this series of articles, I’ll go over some ways that you
can neatly integrate the Treo 600 into your environment. Each of the articles
assumes that you’re using Outlook with Exchange (although for this article, any
mail system will do) and that you actually have
a Treo 600 (or 650, for which these articles should still hold true).

I’ll also include some tips on connecting to mail systems
other than Exchange. After all, you probably have one or two mail accounts for
which you might use POP–not everything is Exchange, after all!

For this article, I’ll go over how to get Palm’s VersaMail
product up and running and downloading mail from a variety of mail systems.

Palm VersaMail

One of the more readily available and straightforward
solutions is Palm VersaMail available for purchase and download from the
PalmOne Web site.
The software costs $29.95 and lets your Treo synchronize directly with any POP3
or IMAP-compliant mail system. VersaMail works over any network connection
supported by your handheld or can be synchronized during a HotSync operation.

The VersaMail Palm client can also render basic HTML, making
it suitable for use with some Web-based mail systems. You can also configure
the application to schedule send and receive operations.

Installing VersaMail

First, you have to get VersaMail. For this article, I
downloaded VersaMail from the Web and used that installer to get things up and
running. When you download the installer, don’t get concerned if you can’t find
the installation file immediately. It’s buried about 8 levels deep in the
package.

When you start the installation, you’ll get the usual Windows
information including the license. Next, the meaty part begins by asking you to
select the user for which you want to install the application. The next time
that user HotSyncs the handheld with the PC, the VersaMail application is
installed, as you can see in Figure A.

Figure A

Select the user for whom the VersaMail client should be installed

When you’re done with the installation, a window pops up
telling you that you’re ready to sync your handheld. To do this, just press the
HotSync button and let the Palm software install VersaMail for you.

After the first HotSync operation during which VersaMail is
installed, your Treo displays a message indicating that you need to reset the
handheld. To do so, just click the Reset button on the message screen.

Creating accounts–POP3

The VersaMail client on your Treo can connect with multiple
email providers and download mail for you on a schedule. First, I’ll set up a
POP3 account on the handheld and set up a schedule to download new mail every
hour.

To get started, from the home menu, choose the VersaMail
option as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Tap the VersaMail icon to read mail and set up accounts

Once in VersaMail, press the Menu button and choose Accounts
| Account Setup. The Account Setup screen, along with a listing of any accounts
you might have set up, appears. Tap the New option to create a new account. A
screen similar to the one shown in Figure C comes into view.

Figure C

Choose your settings and name your new account

In Figure C, you can see that I’ve named my new account ‘TR
test’, with ‘Other’ for the mail service. I’m also using POP to check this
account. If you expand these two items, you get complete lists of the offerings.
A list of mail services included in VersaMail is shown in Figure D. The only
two protocols available from this screen are POP and IMAP.

Figure D

VersaMail comes preconfigured with mail services from most of the major
wireless providers

One option shown in Figure C is the “Synchronize Only
Account” checkbox. If you select this, VersaMail will only receive mail
for this account when you HotSync the handheld. Keep this deselected if you
want the handheld to be able to receive mail from this account at other times.

Tap the Next button to continue.

On the next screen, enter your username and password for the
account you’re setting up. Personally, I
wish this option was after you indicate the servers to use since it’s less confusing
for new users that way, but it is what it is. As you can see in Figure E, I’ve
provided a username for the account and the Password field reads “Assigned”
meaning that I entered a password. During password entry on the Treo, the
password field is visible since it’s very easy to make a mistake. This masking
after the password is initially entered provides a little more security from
people looking over your shoulder.

Figure E

Provide a username and password for the new account

The next screen asks you for three pieces of information:
the email address associated with this account and for the incoming (POP3) and
outgoing (SMTP) mail server names for this account. I’ve provided a screenshot
with this information in Figure F. Tap Next when you’re done.

Figure F

Provide your email address and mail server names

When you’re done with the email address and server settings
screen, your account is set up and can be used. However, you’ll notice that the
window telling you that you’re done has a Next button at the bottom, which is
unusual since it also has a Done button. Tap the Next button to set up more
options for your new account, as you can see in Figure G.

Figure G

The ‘Done’ screen has a Next button where you can provide more information

The first post-configuration screen lets you set some
incoming mail options. The first option, “Get unread mail ONLY”, is
quite useful if you have saved all of your mail on the server in the past. If
you fail to select this option, your handheld will download every message in your account, which
could quickly eat up your memory and your monthly bandwidth allotment from your
provider. The second option “Delete messages on the server when they are
deleted in VersaMail” is pretty straightforward, so I won’t say any more
about it. The last option, “Leave mail on server (e.g. to view on a
desktop later.)” is also pretty self-evident.

The other three options, port number, SSL and maximum
message size, let you specify how your connection works. By default, VersaMail
uses the standard port, which is 110, does not use SSL, and imposes a 5K
message size limit to avoid overloading the handheld. See Figure H for a sample.
You can change any of the settings, if you like.

Figure H

Decide how you want your incoming mail to work

In Figure I, I’ve provided a sample of the next screen, on
which you configure some outgoing mail options, including your Display Name,
which recipients of messages will see when you send them mail, a reply to
address, if you want replies to go to a different account and a BCC option
which lets you send a copy of all sent messages to a different account. I’ve
only configured a display name.

Figure I

Decide how you want sent mail to be handled

On the next screen, you can configure a signature which will
show at the bottom of any message you send from the handheld. I have not provided
a screenshot for this.

On the final screen, you can indicate that the handheld
should use advanced sending options including SSL and enhanced SMTP.

Once you’re done setting up an account, from the menu,
choose Option | Auto Get Mail to set up a regular schedule to automatically
download new mail. You can choose the frequency and the time and date range
during which you want the handheld to get your mail. Figure J shows you how.

Figure J

Decide how often you want to get your mail

When you’re done, tap the Get Mail button at the bottom of
the VersaMail window to download your mail from the accounts you’ve configured.
You’ll then see the screen shown in Figure K.

Figure K

VersaMail downloads any new mail it finds

Creating accounts–IMAP

The easiest way to handle Exchange connections with
VersaMail is to enable IMAP on your Exchange server and open up the appropriate
ports in your firewall to allow traffic from the Internet to use the protocol. Otherwise,
in order to sync with an Exchange server, you’ll need to use your sync cable,
which defeats the purpose a little since you probably want to untether yourself
from your desk.

The Treo 600 is somewhat limited in its networking expansion
capabilities. The only real Wi-Fi support comes from a third party, in fact. The
Treo 650 includes more capabilities, including Bluetooth and a reasonable Wi-Fi
card. However, the Treo 650 is not yet (at least, as of this writing) supported
on the Verizon Wireless network. Of course, POP on your Exchange server is also
an option, as long as you remember to leave the mail on the server.

Since I always have a wireless connection through my
wireless provider, I try to use that as the default when possible, as long as
the usage charges don’t kill me.

To create an IMAP account in VersaMail, start the program
and choose Menu | Accounts | Account Setup. Next, tap the New icon. From here,
follow the same directions as above, making sure you insert the name or IP
address of your IMAP server in the incoming mail server field.

Once the new account is created, tap the Get Mail button to
download new message that make their way to your IMAP/Exchange server.

One great thing about IMAP is its ability to work with
multiple folders, making it easier for you or your users to manage their mail. Using
VersaMail, you can create new IMAP-enabled folders on the fly that are
automatically replicated to your IMAP server.

To create a new folder in VersaMail from your Treo, choose
the folder list in the upper right hand corner of the screen and select Edit
Folders. This opens a window entitled Edit IMAP Folders as seen in Figure L.

Figure L

Tap the New button to create a new IMAP mail folder

To add a new folder, tap New. On the screen show below in
Figure M, type in the name of the new folder. If you want to create the folder
on the IMAP server when you do your next Get Mail, choose the checkbox “Also
create on server”.

Figure M

Type the name for your new IMAP folder

The next time you tap Get Mail, also make sure that the
checkbox “Sync IMAP folders” in enabled, as seen in Figure N.

Figure N

Make sure to enable this option if you want folders fully synced.

Versatility with VersaMail

VersaMail builds on the functionality included with your
Treo by giving you ways other than HotSync to automatically get mail. Better,
it works very well with both the Treo 600 and the 650, as long as you have a
data plan with your wireless carrier.