Mail can’t get your mail unless it knows the details of your email account. The first time you open Mail, then, it asks you for your name, email address, and email account password. If you use a common email service like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, or Microsoft Exchange, or a common Internet provider like Verizon or Comcast, then you’re in luck; Apple has rounded up the acronym-laden server settings for 30 popular mail services and taught Mail to fill them in for you.
All you have to do is type your email name and password into the boxes. If Mail recognizes the suffix (for example, @gmail.com), and if “Automatically set up account” is turned on, then Mail does the heavy lifting for you. Mail is ready to go online.
You can perform exactly the same account setup in the Internet Accounts pane in System Preferences. There’s no advantage of one method or the other, except that the System Preferences pane lets you enter your account information for online calendars and address books, too.
Now, if you use a service provider that Mail doesn’t recognize when you type in your email name and password—you weirdo—then you have to set up your mail account the long way. Mail prompts you along, and you confront the dialog boxes shown in Figure 18-1, where you’re supposed to type in various settings to specify your email account. Some of this information may require a call to your Internet service provider (ISP).