Microsoft Outlook for Mac comes with nearly 200 pre-defined POP and IMAP account configurations that include incoming and outgoing mail settings for some of the most popular E-mail services such as Gmail, Hotmail and MobileMe. When a user attempts to create a new account in Outlook, he is first prompted for his E-mail address. If the domain of the E-mail address matches a domain in the pre-defined configurations then Outlook will automatically configure the account for him.
An administrator can include account settings for his organization by modifying the autoConfigDB.xml file found within the Microsoft Outlook.app application package. This file can be installed after installation of Office for Mac 2011 or it can be included in a custom package he prepares for deployment.
Note: While this procedure is relatively benign, it is neither endorsed nor supported by Microsoft.
Modifying the autoConfigDB.xml file
Locate the autoConfigDB.xml file by right-clicking or Control-clicking the Microsoft Outlook.app application package and selecting Show Package Contents from the contextual menu.
Use a text editor such as BBEdit or Mac OS X’s TextEdit to open the file. The contents between each set of <config> and </config> element tags represent the settings for one E-mail service. A sample account configuration looks like this:
<ServiceName>Talking Moose Industries</ServiceName>
Copy an existing config section and paste it back into the file. Configs are ordered alphabetically by EmailDomain. Modify the newly pasted config to match settings for the organization. Below is a list of required and optional element tags.
Available element tags
<EmailDomains> and </EmailDomains>
These tags are only used when one E-mail service provider hosts services for multiple domains. The first config in the autoConfigDB.xml file demonstrates that the same configuration settings are used for Microsoft’s multiple domains such as hotmail.com and live.com. These tags will only contain two or more <EmailDomain> and </EmailDomain> (singular) element tags. May be omitted when specifying just one E-mail domain.
<EmailDomain> and </EmailDomain>
Contain a single E-mail domain such as talkingmoose.pvt. Required.
<OutgoingType> and </OutgoingType>
Contain the type of outgoing mail server. For all practical purposes this will be SMTP. Required.
<OutgoingServer> and </OutgoingServer>
Contain the address of the SMTP server. Required.
<OutgoingServerPort> and </OutgoingServerPort>
Contain an alternate SMTP server port if not using 25. May be omitted if using port 25.
<OutgoingServerReqSSL> and </OutgoingServerReqSSL>
Contain true or false depending on whether or not the SMTP server requires SSL connections. May be omitted if false.
<AuthRequired> and </AuthRequired>
Contain a true or false depending on whether or not the user’s SMTP server requires authentication to send mail. May be omitted if false.
<IncomingType> and </IncomingType>
Contain either POP3, IMAP or IMAP4. Required.
<IncomingServer> and </IncomingServer>
Contain the address of the POP or IMAP server. Required.
<IncomingServerReqSSL> and </IncomingServerReqSSL>
Contain true or false depending on whether or not the POP or IMAP server requires SSL connections. May be omitted if false.
<ServiceName> and </ServiceName>
Contain a description for the configuration settings. This is not used for the account name. Required.
<AccountIDRequiresDomain> and </AccountIDRequiresDomain>
Contain a true or false depending on whether or not the user’s account name can be specified as “username” or must be specified as “firstname.lastname@example.org”. May be omitted if false.
<IMAPMailboxIdle> and </IMAPMailboxIdle>
Contain a true or false depending on whether or not the user’s IMAP account supports the IDLE command. May be omitted if false.
The autoConfigDB.xml file cannot be modified prior to installation of Office for Mac 2011, which means it must be pushed to computers as part of a re-packaged version of the software or as a separate file. Administrators can use tools such as Apple Remote Desktop, Casper and Composer, or InstaDMG to repackage or deploy the file.
Updates to Office for Mac 2011 could overwrite this file. It should be redeployed after installing any Office updates.