Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A fix for when Thunderbird cannot send e-mails

Are you finding you cannot send e-mail from Thunderbird? Does Thunderbird keep asking you for a password, but ignores it when you enter one? If this is you, read on.

I have just had one of those annoying wastes of a couple of hours when something which worked on my computer suddenly decided not to, for no apparent reason.

In this particular case it was that my e-mail client, Mozilla Thunderbird, suddenly decided not to send e-mails. It would receive them fine, but not send them. Instead, it would display a pop-up box asking for the password to the server, but when I entered it, it simply repeated the request. If I cancelled the request, I got a message saying it could not connect to the SMPT server.

I tried the Thunderbird Help Forum, and Googling things like "Thunderbird cannot send e-mail asks for password", and all combinations in between. I found numerous similar complaints and requests for help going back over the years, all from people who'd been using Thunderbird and who suddenly found they could receive, but not send, e-mails, and that repeated attempts to enter the password were refused.

Well, I finally worked out a solution. I am not sure if it is a wise one, but it works for me, so along with my advice on Installing FAX services for Windows XP, I offer it as a 'public service'.

1. Open Thunderbird

2. From the menu bar at the top, click Tools> Account Settings> Outgoing Server (SMPT) [from left hand menu in the new window]

3. Highlight the account currently in use (or the one you wish to use) and select Edit

4. In the box which opens, under Security and Authentication unclick Use name and password

5. Click OK

6. Try sending again

It works for me. If it works for you, leave a message.

John Richardson

(PS: I just tried doing the reverse on my wife's computer, setting it to use the name and password, and sure enough it locked up. I have set it back!)

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  1. Sounds more like a broadband problem to me - we've been hit the same way today (on can receive but not send.

    Lynda, Plymouth

  2. Thanks for that comment, Lynda. Yes, I've just 'reset' my account settings to the password-required version and, bingo, we're back.

    However, this did work during the 'down' period, too. So for some people it may be effective when they need it short-term.

  3. Well, nowadays most SMTP servers require authentication, to prevent the sending of SPAM by unauthorized folks. That's why you need username and password in your SMTP server settings.

    However, if, during maintenance or for some other reason your provider temporarily substitutes an SMTP server which does not require authentication, then Thunderbird gets confused by the fact that you provided username and password, and fails.

    If you ask me, providers should notify their users of such (even temporary) changes, but often they forget or can't be bothered.

  4. Thanks wnpaul. It would have saved me an hour if Virgin (my supplier) had indeed bothered to give notice of maintenanc. Also the (temporary) solution is so easy, whereas some people have obviously struggled on for hours or days trying to work this out.

    I just hope it helps someone out there!

  5. Yes, like a good googler, I did the same thing you did. In fact on a different computer, I was able to send fine with the authentication set. REGARDLESS, on the problem computer, your tip got me back in business. Thank you for taking the time to post this tip.

  6. Looking at the settings, it was already set to need password confirmation. Thats why it was happening. The only reason it asks for a password is if you tell it to ask for one.

    If I take it off, it doesnt need password, but fails to send saying 'An error occurred while sending mail. The mail server responded, relay not permitted.'

  7. Dear Anon, I think you'll find this is a different problem, which occurs when you are trying to send a message from, for example, a laptop that is connected to someone else's ISP via a wireless connection.

    I have also had this problem - where you can receive, but not send, e-mails.

    In this case, however, the solution is simply to send the e-mail via webmail, which your ISP may well include. If not you'll have to use hotmail, google or some such to send (and copy it to yourself).

    Hope this helps.

  8. Had the same problem. But if I turned off the "Use name and password" option I got a message telling me that it is required. The solution I found was to enter my entire e-mail adr. instead of just the username.

  9. Rod Dawes, Stafford UK
    This suddenly happened to me with Thunderbird 17.0.7.
    Your solution works, thank you,although it is now a drop-down box in which you have to select "None"

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