Email FAQs

Written by Jasmine Robinson on October 22, 2009

Last updated January 2010



Q:  I received a message from “System Administrator” saying that a message I wrote never got to a recipient.  I know I didn’t write that message, has someone taken control of my mailbox?

A:  Look in the Sent Items folder of your email client for the message.  If there are one or more messages in your Sent Items folder that you did not send, then your mailbox has been compromised.  Change your password immediately by using the link on the portal site and then contact the Helpcenter to let them know of the situation.

Q:  I don’t see any messages in the Sent Items folder that I didn’t send, why am I getting these non-delivery reports?

A:  E-mail does not have a very good safeguard to prevent others from sending email using your own return address.  This is called spoofing and is used widely in both virus attacks and spam distribution.  The malicious sender changes the text in the return address field of an email and it will appear to have come from that address.  Recipients and email systems are none the wiser.  If the message goes through, the recipient will think the mail came from a trusted source.  If, as in this case, it cannot be delivered, the responsible email system will try to return the message to what it believes was the sender, which is you, the spoofed address.

Q:  I received a message asking for my email password.  Is this for real?

A:  No!  No legitimate institution, be it the District or otherwise, should ever ask for a password via email.  Never respond to any email asking for any password.

Q:  How often should I change my password?  Are there any suggestions for a good password?

A:  You should change your password at least once a semester.   Never use any part of your own name or your email address in your password.  Passwords are considered strong if they have at least 8 characters and consist of a combination of letters, numbers, and some symbols (such as !, #, @, etc.).  There aren’t any restrictions on what characters you can use in a password.

Q:  There is nothing sensitive in my email account, should I still change my password?

A:  Yes.  Spammers and virus makers use mailboxes from innocent people to distribute their wares.  If your email password is discovered or guessed by one of these people, the entire District email system will become temporarily blacklisted on the internet causing a District-wide email outage.  Also, your own email address will be rendered permanently useless and you will need to have it changed.

Q:  OK, I get it!  Where do I change my password?

A:  Go to the portal site and click on the change password link.

Q:  I forgot my email password.  Can you give it to me?

A:  For your protection ITS does not have access to your passwords.  Passwords are encrypted once they are in the system and cannot be retrieved. Contact your division dean or supervisor to have them initiate a password reset on your account.  Once your password has been reset, you must change it.  ITS will not respond to trouble tickets, phone calls, or emails regarding password changes as there is no way to verify the identity of the requestor.



Q:  My email is down today and I really need my email, what’s wrong with the system?

A:  If you cannot access your email, check with office mates or co-workers to see if they are able to access email.  If it seems the problem is consistent with those around you, then there is likely a service outage.  Contact the Helpcenter via telephone to alert them to the new situation (web and email based services may not be functioning).

Q:  I cannot access email, but those around me are not having any issues.  What now?

A:  Try closing your email application and opening it again, or restarting your computer.

Q:  Still no good… Next?

A:  Check to see if your network access is working by opening any webpage from your browser, such as Google.  If you cannot access the internet then your network connection has been lost.  Contact the Helpcenter and tell them that you cannot access email and whether or not you have network connectivity.  Knowing whether or not you have network connectivity will expedite the resolution of your case.

Q:  I have to click on Send/Receive before I will get any new messages.  It used to be automatic, what happened?

A:  This may be the result of a minor service interruption.  Outlook has the ability to continue working even without a connection to the email servers.  When this happens, Outlook will switch into an offline mode and will automatically reconnect when service returns.  In this instance, Outlook never returned to online mode.  Check for a red message in the bottom of your Outlook window.  If there is such a message, then click it and clear the offline check mark.

Q:  I downloaded some software off the internet to aid me in using my District email, and now I cannot access my District email account.  Can someone help me with this software?

A:  Unfortunately no, the District cannot support any software that is not specifically provided by the District.



Q:  I’m getting a lot of spam lately, is the District spam filter broken?

A:  The District spam filter is by design not entirely fool-proof.  ITS has taken the position that we will let some of the less obvious spam through the system in order to decrease the risk of trapping legitimate emails in the filter.  The spam that you’re getting did not score high enough on our scale to be deemed completely unwanted and thus was allowed through.

Q:  Can you adjust the spam filter to capture more spam for me?

A:  No, the settings affect all users.  We recommend using the Junk E-mail filter built into Microsoft Outlook to filter out any remaining spam that reaches your inbox.

Q:  I’d rather not have the District spam filter on my mailbox.  Can you turn it off?

A:  Yes we can.  Please go to the portal site and use the IT Services Request Form.



Q:  I want to send an email to everyone at my college.  I see the distribution list, but no one received the message.  Why?

A:  It is the District’s policy that the college presidents decide which individuals are allowed access to those distribution lists.  If you cannot send to the list, or your recipients are not getting the message, then the college president has not given you permission to access that list.

Q:  I know I don’t have access to the college distribution list, but I really need to send this message out.  What can I do?

A:  Contact your division dean or supervisor to send out the message.  After their review they may decide to send the message on your behalf to the college distribution list.

Q:  Is it permitted to compose a message with all of the users in the To: line?

A:  Absolutely not.  This is considered spamming and is against our internet service provider’s (ISP’s) terms of service (TOS) agreement.

Q:  Is there an alternative to using Outlook to send bulk email messages?

A:  Yes.  The District has available a mailing list service called Lyris.  Use the IT Services Request Form found on the portal site to request a list.

Q:  I’m not getting any messages for my college and/or I’m getting messages for the wrong college?  What can I do?

A:  You are most likely on the wrong college distribution list.  First, check with human resources to make sure that their records show your correct college.  Then, submit a work order to the Helpcenter to have your distribution list membership checked.

Q:  I cannot locate a name in Global Address Book even though I know this person was recently issued an email account.  What do I do?

A:  It can take up to 24 hours for the online directories to be updated.  If it has been at least a day and you do not see the new entry in Outlook, then your Global Address Book needs to be updated. To do that, at the top of your Outlook screen,  click on the down arrow to the right of Send/Receive, and choose ‘Download Address Book.’


Q:  What’s the mailbox size limit? 

A:  The mailbox size limit is set to store 700MB.  You will get a warning if you ever begin to approach that limit.  If your limit is exceeded for too long your mailbox will be disabled.

Q:  My mailbox is full and I don’t have time to clean it out.  Can you make it bigger?

A:  The typical answer is no.  Cleaning out your mailbox is something we all have to do.  Be sure to empty your Deleted Items folder and clean all folders including Inbox and Sent Items.

Q:  How big of an email can I send or receive?

A:  The maximum size for incoming and outgoing messages is set to 30MB per message.  That is both the size of the message and any attachments to the message.

Q:  I need to send/receive a message over 30MB.  What can I do?

A:  If you’re onsite, then you can share the file over the network.  This is an easy and fast process.  The Helpcenter can help you set this up yourself.  If you’re trying to send the message to an offsite recipient, then you have a few options.  You could use a compression program, such as WinZip, to compress and/or split the file into smaller pieces.  If you’re sending multiple files, try sending each one at a time.

Q:  Why can’t you just change the size limit for an email message?

A:  Our limit is rather large to begin with.  Chances are the recipient’s email server won’t be able to handle a message that is much larger. 



Q:  What is the default email address?

A:  Email that you send is normally addressed using your last name, your first initial and followed by  However, if you have a common last name then we will try to make your address unique using further combinations of letters in your first name.  If you prefer, we can configure your email address to be your first and last name together separated with a period (eg:  Contact your dean or supervisor to request this change.

Q:  I do not like my email address.  Can I change it to something custom?

A:  Not normally.  In some cases if your email address is too similar to another user’s and is causing problems, an exception can be made.  Contact your dean or supervisor to enquire about having your email address changed.

Q:  I’ve just gotten married and/or have legally changed my name.  Can you change my email address?

A:  We will change email addresses in the event of a legal name change.  You must contact Human Resources to have their records updated first.  Then have your dean or supervisor request the change to your email address.



Q:  I want to use Outlook at home just like I do at work.  How do I set that up?

A:  Configuring your Outlook for home is recommended only if you are using Microsoft Outlook 2007 or newer.  When you first start Outlook, you will be prompted to create a new profile.  Use the automatic configuration option and enter in your name, email address and password.  Outlook will automatically detect the proper settings and configure itself for you.  Any mail that you keep in a PST file on your work computer will not be available at home.

Q:  Is web based email access available?

A:  Yes, you can access your mail on the web using Outlook Web Access.  There is a link on the portal site.

Q:  I have a PDA, iPhone, Palm, Android, or something similar or I’m setting up a 3rd party email application.  What are the server names?  What protocol should I choose?

A:  If there is an option to configure your software or device for Microsoft Exchange then choose that option and set the server to

Q:  Exchange isn’t an option.  What is the alternative?

A:  Choose IMAP as your incoming mail protocol and set the server to  While on campus you may set your outgoing SMTP server to  However, once you are off campus, you will not be able to use our server to send mail.

Q:  I have a brand new email account, but I cannot access it and why is this password so complex

A:  When your account is first created, the password is purposely set to a complex combination of letters and numbers.  This makes it nearly impossible for any hacker to guess.  You will not be able to sign into your email account until after you have changed your password.  If you are signing onto a Windows based operating system while on our network you will automatically be prompted to change your password.  If you are trying to connect to your email from off of our network or you are not using Windows, then you must go to the portal site and click on the change password link to set your new password.  Type in your email address, password provided (be sure to use capitals when appropriate as the password is case sensitive) and a new password.

Q:  After I change my password I can no longer access my email.  What happened?

A:  Your handheld device or email application is set to synchronize mail on a schedule and does so without prompting you for a password each time.  When you change your password, the schedule will continue to attempt to check your email using the old password.  Our email system will lock access to your account when anyone tries to access it with the wrong password after a few unsuccessful tries.  Change your password in your device or application settings and within an hour or so your account will unlock.



Q:  What is the Helpcenter?  What can they help me with?

A:  The Helpcenter is staffed during normal business hours and they can answer questions and fix most problems over the phone.  If the problem is more involved, they can dispatch a technician to visit your workstation.

Call extension 6543 from on campus or (650) 574-6543 from off campus.  You may email the Helpcenter at  You may submit work orders using the IT Services Request Form available on the portal site.