Plan outgoing e-mail (Windows SharePoint Services)

Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0


Topic Last Modified: 2006-10-09

In this article:

  • About outgoing e-mail

  • General requirements

  • Outbound SMTP server

  • From and Reply-to addresses

  • Character set

Outgoing e-mail is the foundation on which site administrators can implement several compelling e-mail notification features. These features help end users track changes and updates to individual site collections and allow site administrators to deliver status messages. These e-mail features include both e-mail alerts and administrative messages.

  • Alerts   In a large and growing site collection, users need an efficient way to keep up with updates to lists, libraries, discussions, and other important parts of the site. Setting up alerts provides an effective means to stay on top of changes. For example, if several different groups are dependent on each other for reviewing documents, individuals in each group can set up alerts to be notified whenever there are changes to the documents they are responsible for. Users can specify which areas of the site collection or which documents they want to track and decide how often they want to receive alerts.


    Users must have at least View permissions to set up alerts.

  • Administrative messages   Site administrators might want to receive notices when users request access to a site or when site owners have exceeded their specified storage space. Setting up outgoing e-mail enables site administrators to receive automatic notifications for site administration issues.

This article will help site administrators understand both the uses for integrating outgoing e-mail and the requirements for integrating it into their site collections.

About outgoing e-mail

Properly configuring outgoing e-mail is a requirement for implementing e-mail alerts and notifications. The outgoing e-mail feature uses an outbound Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) service to relay e-mail alerts and notifications.

Outgoing e-mail support can be enabled at both the server farm level (available in the Operations section of Central Administration) and at the Web application level (available in the Application Management section of Central Administration). Therefore, you can specify different settings for a specific Web application. Outgoing e-mail settings at the Web application level override those set up at the server farm level.

General requirements

The outgoing e-mail settings include several components that must be considered when planning for this feature:

  • An SMTP service to relay e-mail alerts and notifications. You will need the DNS name or IP address of the SMTP mail server to use.

  • An address to use in the header of an alert message that identifies who the message is from.

  • A Reply-to address that is displayed in the To field of a message when a user replies to an alert or notification.

  • A character set to use in the body of alert messages.

Outbound SMTP server

The SMTP service is a component of Internet Information Services (IIS); however, it is not enabled by default with IIS. It can be enabled by using the Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.

After determining which SMTP server to use, the SMTP server must be configured to allow anonymous access and to allow e-mail messages to be relayed. Additionally, the SMTP server must have Internet access if you want the ability to send messages to external e-mail addresses.

For more information about installing, configuring, and managing the SMTP service, see the Help for Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager (


Only a member of the Farm Administrators group can configure an SMTP server. The user must also be a member of the local Administrators group on the server.

From and Reply-to addresses

The two e-mail addresses that you can specify when configuring outgoing e-mail settings are the From address and the Reply-to address.

  • From address   Alerts and notifications are sent from an administrative account on the server farm. This account is probably not the one you want to be displayed in the From field of an e-mail message. The address that you use does not need to correspond to an actual e-mail account; it can be a simple friendly address that is recognizable to an end user. For example, "Site administrator" might be an appropriate From address.

  • Reply-to address   This is the address that will be displayed in the To field of a message if a user replies to an alert or notification. The Reply-to address should also be a monitored account to ensure that end users receive prompt feedback for issues they might have. For example, a Help Desk alias might be an appropriate Reply-to address.

Character set

When you configure e-mail settings, you will need to specify the character set to use in the body of e-mail messages. A character set is a mapping of characters to their identifying code values. The default character set for outgoing e-mail is Unicode UTF-8, which allows most combination of characters (including bidirectional text) to co-exist in a single document. In most cases, the default setting of UTF-8 works well, although East Asian languages are best rendered with their own character set.

Be aware that if you select a specific language code, the text is less likely to appear correctly in mail readers configured for other languages.