1. About this Guide
This guide provides some basic 'getting started' information on using email at Oxford University. It is aimed at people who have used email before and are reasonably familiar with its operation and some of the common jargon that is sometimes involved. If you are new to using email, or if you find you don't understand parts of this guide, there is an alternative New Email Users' guide that explains things more fully.
The main central email server at Oxford University is called Nexus. Nexus is one of the systems run by IT Services.
Nexus has many advantages over "free" email accounts from companies such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo, including greater reliability, speed, security, a wide variety of access methods and a backup policy. The Nexus account also includes access to other features in addition to email, such as calendaring, address books, and to-do lists.
If you already have an external web-based email account, there is nothing to prevent you from continuing to use this while in Oxford, although (for the reasons given above) you are advised to migrate your email to Nexus. Alternatively, if you continue to use your external account, you could set up your Nexus account to forward to your external one (or vice versa), so that you can be contacted using your "standard" Oxford email address. (Auto-forwarding is configured via the Nexus account settings page)
Any current member of the University can use Nexus. All new staff and students have a Oxford account (also called Single Sign-On or SSO) set up for them automatically following the issue of a new University Card. The account is used to access Nexus and other central University services. Details of the account get sent via the internal post to either your college in the case of undergraduates, or department in the case of postgraduates and staff. If the letter has not arrived within two working days of receiving your University Card, please contact IT Services, e.g. via our Problem Report web page and a replacement set of details will be put in the internal mail. Alternatively, you can visit IT Services in person.
Once you have received the details, new Oxford accounts need to be activated by visiting https://webauth.ox.ac.uk/activate.
Oxford accounts (also known as Single Sign-On or SSO accounts) are increasingly used as the basis for accessing other services such as Weblearn and also the IT Services online self-registration services. Even if you have no need to use the Nexus email facility, you should activate your Nexus/SSO account as you will almost certainly need to use its username and password for other purposes.
Any longstanding University member who has never activated their Oxford account should contact IT Services for activation details.
As well as providing email, an account on Nexus also provides access to web-space for the setting up of personal web pages. More information on this is available elsewhere.
The email storage quota provided by Nexus is currently 2 Gb.
3. Oxford Email Addresses
When you register for an Oxford account, you will be issued with an email address for use with that account. For most users, this is based on their college affiliation, for example
email@example.com. Graduate and staff users also get an email address relating to their departmental affiliation, for example
Incoming mail sent to either college and departmental addresses will normally be delivered to the same Nexus email account. Outgoing messages will always be "stamped" as originating from one particular version. (Users with more than one Oxford email address can use the Nexus account settings to specify which one Nexus should use when sending mail.)
A few university departments and colleges run their own email system and prefer their members to use that. If you find yourself in this category, you can still use your Nexus account, although having two email accounts may make life unnecessarily complicated. If you have both a college and departmental affiliation, you could, for example, request that your college email address delivers it messages to the college system, and your departmental email address to Nexus.
4. Connecting to the Network
Many colleges and departments provide some communal computers via which you can access email. If you want to use email from your own computer, you will need to get your machine linked up to the University network and configure its basic communications software. Many college rooms now provide connection points onto the high-speed campus ethernet network. How you set up an ethernet connection depends on where you are - your college or departmental IT support staff can provide local information about this.
The University also provides a wireless network which University members can use. To connect to this, you need a valid and active IT Services Remote Access Account (please note that this is different from your SSO account). More information about university wireless is available on the Wireless Networking pages.
From off-campus, the most popular form of email and internet access is a broadband connection via a commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most ISPs also still provide a low-speed service using a modem.
5. Accessing Nexus email
Email on Nexus can be accessed in different ways:
- Via a web interface - just link your web browser to Nexus Outlook Web Access: https://nexus.ox.ac.uk/owa.
- Via an email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird.
There are separate web pages detailing how to set up various email clients to use Nexus.
You can access your email on any computer with an internet connection and on some mobile devices. You do not have to use only one or the same method all the time; you can access your email account interchangeably by the different methods.
6. Accessing Existing Email Accounts
If you have an existing email account, for example via an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as BT or NTL, you should be able to access this via your connection to the Oxford Network. Equally, you can access your Nexus account via a broadband or modem connection to an ISP's system. To access Nexus via another ISP, you can use the same email client configuration details listed above, except that you must configure your client to use
authenticated SMTP for the sending of mail. The details of this vary between clients and are described in the various IT Services email client configuration pages.
Note also that certain restricted Oxford internal web pages may not be accessible via connections through other ISPs. In order to access such pages, you should make use of our VPN Service.
7. Where to go from here
Information on more advanced Nexus operations as well as general topics are available in separate web pages available via the main email index page.