How to Specify a Preferred SMTP Server on a Mac

Each email account in the Mail app can have its own outgoing server

Configuring the Apple Mail application on Macs running macOS or OS X to include all your email accounts is relatively simple. Several popular email providers, including Google, Yahoo, Exchange, and AOL, are preconfigured in the Mail application, so you don't need to enter information other than your login name and password to set up access up some of your email accounts. They are already configured with a default SMTP server. That isn't the case with all email providers.

If you have email providers that you enter manually under Add Other Account in Apple Mail, you need to input all the provider's information, including the SMTP server. The necessary information you need to enter is available from the email provider.

In addition to setting up your iCloud email account, take the time to set up your Gmail or any other email providers in the Mail application so you can access them all from within the Mail app.

Information is this article applies to macOS Big Sur (11) through OS X Lion (10.7).

Outgoing Email Servers

The Mail application attempts to send mail through the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server it thinks is the default outgoing email server. You may never need to make a change to the default email server listed for an account, but you may be asked to by an ISP or an employer to use a preferred SMTP server. In that case, you can specify the preferred outgoing mail server or change the existing choice for each account if needed. The app then sends each outgoing email using the SMTP account you specify.

How to Add or Change an SMTP Server

To set a preferred outgoing SMTP mail server for an account in the Mail app in macOS or OS X:

  1. Open the Mail application by clicking its icon on the Dock.

  2. Click Mail in the menu bar and select Preferences from the drop-down menu.

    Preferences in Apple Mail
  3. Click the Accounts tab in the screen that opens and highlight the account for which you want to specify an outgoing email server.

    If the account isn't already listed, click the plus sign to add an account. Select the type of account from the screen that opens and enter any requested information.

    The Accounts tab in Mail
  4. Select the Server Settings tab.

    The Server Settings tab
  5. Choose the preferred server from the drop-down list next to Outgoing Mail Account.

    To edit or add a new outgoing mail server for an account, click Edit SMTP Server list in the drop-down menu and make the change. Click OK to close the editing screen and then select the preferred server from the drop-down list.

    The Outgoing Mail Account menu
  6. Close the Accounts window.

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