Science Division Users Guide to SciMail

If after reviewing this document you have questions or need assistance, contact Science Computing Services.


Introduction to SciMail Return to Top

SciMail is the email system of the Science Division of The City College of New York. There are several ways to access your SciMail account, including:

  • Mail client using the POP protocol (e.g., Outlook, Eudora)
  • Mail client using the IMAP protocol (e.g., Outlook, Eudora, Mulberry, Pine)
  • SciMail Web client (a specialized IMAP client)

You must use the SciMail Web client to use certain features of SciMail (find more info in the FAQ section below), including:

  • mail forwarding
  • automated 'vacation' replies
  • changing your password
  • checking your email quota

Using the online help. In the SciMail Web client, context-sensitive help is accessed by selecting the [?] icon. However, we recommend that you first view this Users' Guide to SciMail, since although th e built-in help has much useful information, it is sometimes more suitable for advanced users and system administrators. You can view this Guide anytime by selecting [Help] from the SciMail toolbar.

Getting an account. To apply for an account, download form, fill it out, and bring the printout to Science Computing Services in room J-302. Y ou need to bring a current CCNY ID card; other conditions are described on the form.


SciMail Web Client Return to Top

The SciMail Web client allows you to manage your account from any Internet computer using just a web browser. The Web client does not download messages to your local PC; they stay on the SciMail server until you delete them. This allows you to view your messages from multiple locations. You can choose to download a copy of a message or attachment to your local PC. The SciMail Web client allows you to create folders for organizing your mail.

A disadvantage of the Web client is that it can be a little slow over dialup. It is recommended for users who want to access their mail from multiple computers or locations, for use on computers shared by multiple users, and for those who don't want to configure and manage a local IMAP client.

Access the SciMail web client at: (standard connection, non-secure) (secure connection - recommended)

If shown Security Alert dialog box, click Yes to proceed.

Mail client using the POP protocol Return to Top

POP has been a most popular mail method because it is simple and, once the messages are downloaded, very fast. (Note: The mail system on the original SCISUN was a POP mail server.) Typically, a POP-configured client (e.g., Outlook, Eudora) downloads messages from the server to your PC, and then deletes the messages from the server. You then manage all your mail on your local PC. A downside of POP is that if you need to review an old message and you are not at your office computer, you might not be able to access that message. People have developed ways around that, such as setting the mail server to "Leave messages on the server", but if you get a lot of mail you may exceed your quota on the server.

POP mail clients can only read mail from a single 'folder' on the server…the InBox. So if you use sometimes use the SciMail Web client and you create multiple folders, those won't be visible to your POP-configured client. Similarly, if you POP your mail down, it will no longer be visible to the Web Client, which only sees mail on the server.

When configuring a local mail client for POP mail, use hostname as the POP (receiving) and SMTP (sending) mail server. (However, since we have also assigned the legacy 'scisun' hostname to the SciMail server, it will also work if you use hostname instead.)

Mail client using the IMAP protocol Return to Top

IMAP provides powerful features for people who receive a lot of email, and want to be able to manage their mail from multiple computers and locations. Typically, an IMAP-configured client (e.g., Outlook, Eudora, Mulberry) downloads just headers of messages, so you know the date/sender/subject of all your messages; the full text and/or attachments are downloaded only when you indicate you want to read that message.

Like POP, IMAP allows you to use familiar mail clients on your local PC; unlike POP, IMAP keeps messages on the server, and you can view and manage folders on the server as well. It gives one the 'illusion' that your email messages are local, but they are always resident on the server; thus, you have the same view of your email from all locations.

Using a program like Outlook Express configured with the IMAP protocol is completely compatible with using the SciMail web client -- in fact, the Web client is nothing more than another IMAP mail client.

For IMAP, you should be using a reasonably up-to-date email client, not a 3-year old version. In addition, note that many clients (and many IMAP servers) implement IMAP in idiosyncratic and/or incomplete ways. The most complete IMAP client is a program called Mulberry, but it costs money; Outlook Express and other popular mail clients are sufficient for most users. The Unix mail client "Pine" supports IMAP; for more information, see FAQ below on using Pine.

As implied above, there is a learning curve for IMAP, so we recommend it for people who receive a lot of email, need to access it from multiple locations, and are ready to deal with the learning curve; for others, the web client or the POP protocol is recommended.

When configuring a local mail client for IMAP mail, use hostname as the IMAP (receiving) and SMTP (sending) mail server. (However, since we have also assigned the legacy 'scisun' hostname to the SciMail server, it will also work if you use hostname instead.)

Click here for general information about IMAP.

Email address Return to Top

Having a SciMail account means that you are assigned an account name (also called an ID), a password, and a disk quota for your mail. The email address for all SciMail accounts is:

(Note: mail sent to or will also be delivered to the same SciMail account.)

Faculty and staff in the Science Division are typically assigned a CCNY mail alias, using a standard format used throughout the College, comprised of first letter of first name plus last name, so John Smith would be assigned the alias (or perhaps Mail addressed to your CCNY mail alias is typically delivered to your SciMail account.

Account quota Return to Top

Determine quota mail usage by using the SciMail web client; after logging in, select [Mailboxes] and in the upper right corner your current usage and quota will be displayed (e.g., used 8M of 40M). Messages in all Mailboxes count towards the quota. Some local IMAP clients will also be able to show your quota information.

If you reach 90% (subject to change) or more of your quota , you receive periodic warning messages when using the SciMail web client; some local IMAP clients are also able to display the warning.

Try to keep usage below 90% of quota. If you are at or close to 100% of quota, you may not be able to delete messages with the Web client. That is because we configured the SciMail web client to "Move Deleted Messages to Trash Folder". A Move is really a Copy + Delete_Original, and if the Copy action fails because you have exceeded quota, then the Delete action will fail. If this happens you have a couple of options. i) use a local IMAP client to delete messages (deleting messages with IMAP usually involves two steps: 'mark for deletion' and 'expunge'); or ii) temporarily (or permanently) change your Trash Management settings so that messages are 'marked' (then expunge) or are deleted 'immediately'... see FAQ in this document on changing default settings.

If you reach 100% of quota, you will not be able to receive new messages until you make room. TIP: If you have exceeded quota and are in a hurry to send a message out using the Web client, make sure to uncheck the 'Save Copy" option in the Compose window.

Forwarding mail Return to Top

To configure SciMail to forward incoming messages to a different account, use the Web client:

Select [Rules] from the toolbar; scroll down and mark the [Redirect All Mail to:] checkbox; type the new email destination(s) into the text box…click the [Update] button. You can list several accounts to receive the forwarded mail; just separate them with a comma or Carriage Return.

To turn off the forwarding, unmark the [Redirect All Mail to:] checkbox and select [Update]. You may retain the textbox content for future activation of the same forwarding.

Forwarding options:

(Keep a Copy) If checked, a copy of incoming messages is delivered to your
SciMail account, as well as forwarding copies to the other designated

(Do not Redirect Automatic Messages) If checked, this prevents
machine-generated messages from being forwarded (e.g., mailing list
messages, auto-reply messages, error messages). If you want -all- messages
forwarded, including machine-generated messages, uncheck this option.

(Preserve To/Cc fields) If checked, the messages will be 'mirrored', making
it seem that the messages were originally sent directly to the forward

Vacation reply (auto reply) Return to Top

To set up an automatic vacation reply, use the Web client:

Select [Rules] from the toolbar, mark the "Vacation Message" checkbox, type your automatic response into the "Vacation Message" textbox, then select the [Update]
button at the bottom.

Unlike some systems, each new message will receive the auto-reply, so someone who sends you 4 emails while you are away will receive 4 'vacation' replies.

To turn off the automatic response, unmark the "Vacation Message"
checkbox and select [Update]. You may retain the textbox content for future
activation of the automatic response.

Forgotten password Return to Top

Passwords are case-sensitive, so first make sure that you haven't set Caps_On; that is a common cause of password problems. Next, contact Science Computing Services; however, as a security measure, you may be required to come in person to the SCS office in room J-302 with your CCNY ID in order for us to reset your password.

Name of POP/IMAP/SMTP server Return to Top

When configuring a local mail client, enter as the POP or IMAP server (for receiving mail) and as the SMTP server (for sending) mail. Use the same hostname for LDAP as well. Since we have also assigned the legacy 'scisun' hostname to the SciMail server, it will also work if you use hostname Important! If you are off-campus, there are issues with using the SciMail server to Send mail; see other FAQ that addresses this.

Sorting messages (Web client) Return to Top

By default, incoming mail in the Web client is sorted by Date, with most recent messages displayed first. If you click on any of the column field names, such as Sender or Subject, the mails will be sorted by those fields instead. Clicking on a field again toggles between ascending and descending order.

You can select a different default sorting scheme by selecting Settings and modifying the Mailbox Viewer options.

Search/Filter massages (Web client)? Return to Top

The Search command searches for the word in all fields as well as in the body of the email message. The Filter command filters and displays the selected field only, not
the actual body of the e-mail message.

If both of your Filter and Search boxes contains some word(s), then it will filter the selected field first, and then go through the filtered mails to search for the keyword. The displayed mails will have both the properties.

Note that after you have filtered your mails, if you clear the "Filter" box and enter a keyword in the "Search" box, -all- the messages will be searched for that keyword.

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Saving copies of Sent Items (Web client) Return to Top

Saving copies of sent mail: The default is to save a copy of all sent messages in the Sent Items folder; to not save a copy for a particular message, just uncheck the box when composing a message. If you usually or never want to save a copy, you can remove that option as follows: click [Settings] from the toolbar… scroll down to the field and select the item in the list (it's near the top of list).

Deleting/purging messages: The default setting is for deleted messages to be immediately moved to the Trash folder. IMPORTANT!! Messages left in the Trash folder for more than 1 week are automatically deleted!! You can manually delete messages from the Trash folder or click the [Empty Trash] button, which appears near the top of the Mailboxes page if there are any messages in Trash. You can change some of these Tra sh Management options by clicking [Settings] and scrolling down to Trash Management.

Using Pine Client (UNIX) Return to Top

Yes, but it has to be one that supports modern mail protocols; UNIX clients that work include Netscape and Pine (a character-based mail client); note that the legacy Unix mail client called 'mail' does not support modern mail protocols and so will not work with SciMail.

Since the version of Pine on SCISUN does not work well with SciMail, and it is not feasible to upgrade it, if you want to have the option of using Pine, please request an account on a new computer setup by Science Computing Services called pinehost, which has a supported version of Pine configured to manage SciMail accounts; send requests to Using an account on pinehost, you can use pine, telnet, ssh, and ftp, in the usual ways, to access and manage your mail.

Once you have this account, follow these instructions:

Telnet (or ssh) to; login using your pinehost account name and password--these will usually be the same as your scisun and SciMail account name and password. Once logged in, start Pine by entering 'pine'.

When you first start Pine, you will be prompted to login to your SciMail account. Enter your SciMail account name (usually you can just press Enter to accept the displayed default); then enter your SciMail password. Then use Pine as usual. All the mail folders you see are SciMail folders; since you are using Pine as a standard IMAP client, using it is compatible with using other IMAP clients, including the SciMail web client.

=Here are tips for a few common tasks:

…to SAVE a plain text message to a file in your pinehost home directory, use the pine 'Export' command.

…to EXTRACT an attachment in a message, first view the message, then select the pine 'ViewAttachments', highlight the desired attachment and select the pine 'Save' command.

=To MOVE a message from one SciMail folder to another, use the Pine 'Save' command; the move is executed as a 'copy & delete original' command, so the original copy will be marked for deletion.

Reading mail from off-campus Return to Top

There are no restrictions on reading email from off-campus -- all methods will work from anywhere, including the web client or a local POP or IMAP client. Note that if you are working on someone else's computer, the simplest approach is to use the SciMa il web client ( or

Sending mail from off-campus Return to Top

This is more complicated; we'll start with the easy parts, and work our way to the more complicated ones.

  1. You can use the SciMail web client to Send mail from any computer on the Internet, whether it is on campus or off-campus.

  2. If you want to use SciMail with a local mail client like Outlook or Eudora on an off-campus computer, a common approach is to configure the client to use the SMTP host of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to Send your mail (while entering '' as your POP/IMAP host for receiving mail.) Contact their technical support for the name of their STMP server.

  3. The short answer is yes.

    If you are off-campus and you don't want to use the SciMail web client, and you cannot use some other SMTP server, then you get to read the interesting part. To prevent spammers from using our mail server to send (i.e., relay) thousands of unsolicited m essages, the SciMail server (like all mail servers) maintains some criteria for permitting relaying of messages, especially for off-campus computers that want to send messages to other off-campus computers (that's what spammers want to do). SciMail will only agree to relay your mail to another off-campus computer if it can determine that you are a legitimate user.

    The way it does so is referred to as "CheckMail/Authentication-Before-Sending". Since when you check for mail you are required to login with your username and password, that means that you have been authenticated; SciMail will then allow you to Send ma il from the computer you just used to check for new mail. Remember, you must do a 'Check/Receive mail' before you will be allowed to Send mail; note that some email clients 'receive & send' mail at the same time, so if you have mail in the 'send' queue y ou may get an Error message the *first time* because you have not been authenticated yet; just do it again, and it will work the second time. The authentication is necessarily time-limited, so if you haven't 'checked mail' in a while, you may have to do it again just before you send another message. It seems complicated, but in practice it works well. IMPORTANT: This method required *no special setup* in your mail client.

    Don't confuse this with another method called SMTP Authentication--you may see SMTP Authentication mentioned in your mail client settings but don't select it, as that option is not able to pass through the College firewall, and so will not work. If it b ecomes available later we will send out notification. Finally, please note again that the procedure being described here only applies to using local mail clients from *off-campus* computers.

Encrypting communications and/or password (SSL) Return to Top

If you don't want to send your SciMail password across the network in clear-text, here are your options.

First, when using the SciMail web client, use the https:// address; this will encrypt your entire session.

Second, if you are using a local POP/IMAP client, you can configure it to use one of the following two encryption methods: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which encrypts the entire mail session, or SASL/encrypted, which encrypts the password before sending it. SciMail supports both methods; however, Microsoft Outlook/Outlook Express users cannot use the SASL/encrypted method since it will not work with SciMail--this is because Microsoft d oes some proprietary things with it.

SSL. Most mail clients provide a checkbox option to enable/force a secure SSL session; check that option and your entire session will be encrypted, so you don't need to do anything special to encrypt your password. (Eudora users: SSL is available starting with v5.1.)

SASL/encrypted. Most mail clients provide an option to encrypt just the password, sometimes called Secure Authentication. The password encryption methods supported by SciMail are CRAM-MD5 and DIGEST-MD5. Note that Microsoft Outlook and Outlook E xpress call it Secure Password Authentication, and it doesn't work with SciMail, so use SSL instead.

Web address (URL) of SciMail personal Web pages Return to Top

The general format is:

An exception is if you have a file called default.html; if you do, it will be displayed with the (shorter) URL:

If you want to ensure that no one can view a file, create a folder called "private" and upload the file there; when you access it, you will have to enter your account name and password (don't give it out to anyone else!).

Important! Folder and file names are case-sensitive.


…if Jane Smith (with account name jsmith) uploads a file called 'default.html', it can be viewed by the world at:

…if Jane uploads a Word file called "conference-info.doc", it can be viewed by the world at:

…if Jane creates a folder called 'private' and uploads a Word file there called "Abstract.doc", it can be viewed only with login and password at:

…some web browsers will determine that it is a Word file and will launch Microsoft Word; alternatively, user can download (Save As) the file.

NOTE: SciMail supports basic HTML; some web page features are not supported.

Renaming a SciMail personal Web file Return to Top

There is no way to rename a file except to upload the file again with the new name; then delete the old file.

UnMarking all messages (Web client) Return to Top

To unmark all messages, click the [Display] button; this checks for any new mail in the current mailbox and also refreshes the display.

Rules and Filters (Web client) Return to Top

You can setup incoming mail processing rules using the SciMail web client. (You can also use the Rules features of your local mail client, but since each client has vastly different capabilities in this area, we can't cover each one.) Here's an example f or creating a Rule that would store all of your incoming mail on a particular topic in a designated folder:

  • click on [Rules] in the SciMail Toolbar
  • type a brief name for the Rule (for example: practice rule) in the empty field, and click [Add Rule]
  • leave Priority at default setting (5)
  • click on the "Edit" link next to the new rule
    (…now we will create a Rule Condition…)
  • in Data field select 'Subject'
  • in adjacent Operation field select 'is'
  • in adjacent Parameter field type: free cash
    (…now we will create a associated Rule Action…)
  • in Action field select "Store In"
  • -in adjacent Parameter field type: Drafts
    (…storing it in Drafts may not make much sense, but everyone has a Drafts folder and so we use it in this example for convenience…)
  • click [Update]
    (…notice that additional lines appear for creating additional Conditions or additional Actions…)
    (…if we stop now, then a copy of the message will be stored in the Drafts folder, and a copy will also be delivered, as usual, to your InBox…)
    (…we will now create a second Action for this Rule…)
  • in the blank Action field, select 'Discard'
  • click [Update]
    (…by adding a Discard action, you will only have a copy in the Drafts folder and it will not be delivered to your InBox…)
    (…if you change your mind….if you later decide to remove the Discard action, just delete the text from the second Action field (the one that now says Discard), and click [Update]…)
  • to return to the list of Rules, click [Rules] on the Toolbar.
    (…if you don't want to keep any copies of mail with 'free cash' in the Subject line, you would simply enter use the "Discard" or "Reject with" actions in the first Action field…)

For more detail on SciMail web client rules, see:

External POP account feature Return to Top

SciMail can be optionally configured to periodically retrieve mail from other (POP only) mail accounts you may have. You must know and enter the full hostname of the POP mail server. You are limited to 3 remote POP accounts. Unneccesary use of this feature wastes network bandwidth; make sure to select "Disabled" in the [Poll Every] field (it's at the bottom of the list) if you don't need it active. To delete a setting altog ether, select "Never" in the [Poll Every] field. During the first few months, there will be no minimum polling interval to allow experimentation with this feature; however, after September 1, 2002, a minimum polling interval of 2 hours will likely be set (subject to change.) Note: This feature will not work with Hotmail accounts, since Hotmail does not support the POP mail protocol.


Science Computing Services
Marshak Science Building J-302
The City College of New York, CUNY
Convent Avenue & 138th Street
New York, New York 10031
  Phone: 212 650-7885
Fax: 212 650-7884


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Last modified: July 2002