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Frequently Asked (Tech) Questions
Last updated: 2023-03-07
Note: you are looking at the Tech FAQ. For general questions, see the general FAQ.
Can I bring my own domain?
Domains other than
altmail.se are currently not
supported. Never say never, but at this point we do not have any plans
to add this going forward.
Can I have a larger quota? Or more aliases?
Unfortunately not while we are in the beta stage. Once we launch our commercial offering, we will offer upgraded plans for people who want a bigger mailbox or even more aliases.
What email clients do you recommend?
We provide standard IMAP and SMTP protocols to access your account, so it should not matter which client you use as long as it is standards compliant and matches your personal needs and preferences. That said, we use Mutt in the console, Thunderbird on the desktop and K-9 on Android. All of these programs work perfectly fine. These are, however, only meant to give you a taste; many other clients exist and we do not officially endorse any of them.
Where, oh where, is my webmail?
Fair question: it is customary (perhaps mandatory) nowadays for every email service provider to also host a webmail for their users. We do not do this for several reasons:
- Just as web applications are mostly inferior compared to real desktop applications (where both exist), we strongly believe that webmail is technically inferior, and will always be technically inferior, to real email client applications. The fact that Big Tech mailer corporations all push their own in-house developed webmail interfaces does not change our view, even if some of these might work okay from a user perspective (if one can afford and is willing to waste enormous computing power). On the contrary, this push to bespoke shiny in-browser clients is better seen as a strategic path to vendor lock-in. Avoid it if you can.
- We have yet to see an open source webmail which we actually liked (does not suck to host and maintain, or is not laden with usability or privacy issues).
- A webmail, while it can (technically and theoretically) be fully secure, encourages insecure computing practices, such as accessing it from untrusted computers you come across in an ad-hoc manner. It is much harder for your password to be compromised if you do not walk around typing it into random computers, only have it configured in mail clients in your own trusted devices.
- Letting people use a webmail and nothing but a webmail to access their mailbox (sandboxed into a browser) nudges them towards keeping mail on the server instead of sensibly archiving it offline, outside of their online account. On the other hand, such offline archival is made very easy by "normal" clients. While people are of course allowed to leave mail in their account for as long as they wish, we do not want to incentivise that.
How do I forward my mail to a mailbox at another provider?
Auto-forwarding (redirecting) of incoming email is intentionally not supported. The only supported way to use your AltMail.se account is to access your mailbox via IMAP, that is, via a standards-compliant email client of your choosing.
Most people who want to configure forwarding wish to do so in order to have all their incoming email (to several different accounts at various providers) visible in a single place. To achieve this, we recommend that you add your AltMail.se account beside any other existing account(s) in your email client, and let your client connect to all the servers and fetch incoming mail for you. Since most modern email clients allow setting up multiple accounts at different providers, you will still access all your mail via a single client. You can even move your stored email across accounts, should the need arise. This is the correct approach to handling multiple accounts, which we fully support.
Auto-forwarding is problematic for a number of reasons: it is technically difficult to make sure that no spam gets forwarded or that it won't be abused to avert sender quotas (rate limits). It requires special attention to avoid filling the storage quota at the origin in case the account owner never logs in there – or to not lose email in a no-keep scenario in the face of delivery failures. Further, it breaks modern email features such as DKIM signatures. On the other hand, auto-forwarding has basically no legitimate use that cannot be achieved in a better way (see above).
Why is there no POP3 access to mailboxes?
We consider POP3 to be obsolete; supporting it would only add more administrative burden and potential security attack surface to our operations without any clear benefit. We believe that IMAP is clearly superior, and all email clients used today should be able to work with it. If you have a problem using IMAP, please consider upgrading your client.
What is the largest email I can send or receive?
The maximum total raw message size for any email processed by our
35 MB (megabytes). Messages larger than this
limit are rejected by our mail exchanger, both inbound and outbound.
Note that the total raw message size of an email depends on its parts
(composition) and the encodings thereof; in practice, such a large
message will only result from attaching one or more files to the
Given the standard encoding of mail attachments, if a single
attachment is added to an otherwise small email (negligible in size
compared to the attachment itself), the raw binary size of that
attachment can be up to
25 MB (megabytes) for the raw
message size to stay safely under the limit. (For the technically
curious: binary attachments are
encoded, which dilutes the original binary in such a way that every
byte will only carry 6 bits. So technically:
6/8 * 35 MB,
rounded down to account for overhead and a margin of safety.)
Are separator dots in email addresses optional?
No, they are not optional. For example,
email@example.com are two similarly looking, but
completely separate email addresses. Owning only one of them does
not imply that email sent to the other will be received by your
account. (The same is true for hyphens – they too are
Depending on the type and anticipated use of your account (and your
personality, etc.) it might or might not make sense to set up various
aliases once you have registered your account to secure some
additional email addresses for your own use. Let's say that you
register your account with the primary address
firstname.lastname@example.org. You might want to add aliases
email@example.com as well as
firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to have a more
"professional looking" email address (to put on your CV, etc). Or vice
versa, register an account with a formal name and add your nick as an
alias for extracurricular usage.
Where is my incoming mail delivered and how long does it stay there?
As a rule of thumb, incoming mail addressed to your account (either to your primary address, or any of your configured aliases) will be delivered to your INBOX.
The following exceptions apply, effective in the below order of precedence:
- If the message is detected to contain a virus or is above a threshold of gross spamminess, it is rejected at the SMTP level.
- If our mail server has accepted the message for delivery, but has categorized it as spam, the message is delivered to your Spam folder.
- If you have set up some custom server-side Sieve rule that matches the message, it is delivered (or discarded) according to that rule.
- If the recipient address you are receiving it on is subaddressed, and the corresponding folder exists, it is delivered to that folder.
Mail delivered to a folder will stay in that folder (unless you take action to move or delete it). The only exception from this is that messages in the Spam and Trash folders have a retention period of 3 weeks from the time of entering the folder (the message might have been lying around somewhere else before that; the retention period is counted from the moment it was put in Spam or Trash).
I am getting spam, what should I do?
First, it is probably inevitable that at one point or another, you will start receiving some spam in your account. You can try to combat this somewhat, by not publishing your address on public websites where scrapers (bots) can easily harvest it.
Second, you can (and should) also set up a couple aliases for relations with entities you do not fully trust. For example, if a webshop needs your email to go through with a purchase, give them an alias you reserve for your sign-ups and e-commerce. When you start getting unwanted newsletters and similar marketing spam on that address, you can just change the alias to a new one and all that spam will simply get cut off.
Depending on the nature of your online activities, a second, throwaway "burner" alias might be useful, which you can freely discard after each use (since you never expect to receive anything of value there). These aliases should be dissimilar to your primary address – if one sees only the alias, they should not be able to derive your "real" email from it. Only use your primary account email (that you cannot change) for actual direct human correspondence with people you know and trust.
Third, for real spam that reaches your Inbox, instead of just deleting it, move it into the Spam folder. (This is also what commonly existing buttons labeled "Report spam" in common mail clients do.) By moving email into the Spam folder, you provide a training sample to our spam filter, which increases the probability that future email similar to the one you just got will be correctly classified as spam.
Email classified as spam will either be outright rejected (above a certain threshold of spamminess) or delivered to your Spam folder. You do not have to worry about emptying your Spam folder; messages that have been in there for more than three weeks will be automatically deleted on an ongoing basis. In the unlikely event that legitimate email arrives into your Spam folder, please move it back to your Inbox (or any other folder except for Trash) or use the "Mark as not spam" button commonly found in clients (which does the same thing) so as to hopefully improve our spam filter.
How do I set up identities (names) for each email address I use?
The sender identity displayed to your recipients depends entirely
on what your mail client puts in the Sender field of the message
header. It is customary to assign an identity to the account (or, in
case of aliases, each outgoing address) so that you send email
"John Doe <email@example.com>" and not
firstname.lastname@example.org. The exact way to set this up
depends on your email client. If you have configured multiple
identities, you will probably be able to choose which one to use (from
a drop-down menu or similar interface) on each mail you compose.
Naturally, you may only use sender addresses that actually belong to you at the moment (your primary address plus any configured aliases); otherwise our SMTP server will reject your email.