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Email at Oxford today

Email in Oxford is part of the Nexus service, run by the University's IT Services. Nexus gives you access to a number of services in addition to email, such as calendars, address book and the option of sharing information with other Nexus users.

This document offers information about email at Oxford in general. The Nexus pages offer specific information about the Nexus service, such as set-up and configuration details.

1. Getting started

New University members

All new members of the University are automatically given an Oxford Username and an email account once a University card has been issued. Details about the Oxford account (which is also known as the Single Sign-On account or SSO) are sent to your University address (college or department). Please allow several days after receiving your card for the email account details to reach you. If you haven't received your account details and activation code, please contact the IT Services Help Centre.

Before you can start using your Oxford account you need to activate it. Go to the Webauth page and enter your activation code which you will find in the letter with your account details.

The SSO account is not only used for email but is also the means by which you get access to a range of Oxford services (see the Oxford username page for details).

Access your email

You can access your Oxford email in different ways; directly online or via a program (client) installed on your computer (or mobile device). Users of Microsoft clients (such as Outlook or Entourage) get access other features in addition to email (such as calendar, address book, to-do lists). If you choose to use an email client, you have to set it up. More information about Nexus email, including configuration details for a series of clients, are available on the Nexus email page.

About Oxford email

If you are unfamiliar with email, you should read our New Email Users guide, which will lead you through the steps involved in setting up your email account and reading your email.

If you are already familiar with setting up email clients, see our Experienced Email Users manual; this should provide all the information you need to configure your software at Oxford.

2. Passwords

Use your Single Sign-On (SSO) / Oxford Username and password to access the Oxford email.

Change password
You can change your SSO password on the Webauth page.
Forgotten/expired password
If you have forgotten your SSO password, or it has expired, you can reset it via Webauth provided you have previously set up a Webauth security question.

If you have not set up a security question, or have forgotten the answer, you will need to obtain a Rescue Code from the IT Services Help Centre. Rescue Codes can be issued in person, by internal University post to your college/department, or by email to a member of your registered local IT support staff on request from them.

More password information
See Changing passwords for more information about passwords.

3. Unwanted email (viruses, spam, junk-email)

We all receive unwanted email, sometimes of an offensive nature. It is very hard to totally avoid this, but it can usually be contained to a mere irritation. Most incoming mail is scanned in order to tag junk mail, and IT Services recommends applying a filter to screen you from the worst excesses.

IT Services will take action against any Oxford user who is identified as having originated or passed on junk or chain mail. Serious cases will be referred to the Proctors.

Junk, chain and hoax email
What is it and how can you avoid it? Some general information on our junk mail page. Make sure to activate your Nexus spam filter to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
Fake emails/phishing
All email users will almost certainly receive occasional fake emails (also know as "phishing") trying to persuade them to provide personal details, passwords, credit card numbers etc. by various means such as linking to a fraudulent web site. Read some tips about How to Recognise Fake Emails. Often Viewing the Full Email Headers can provide clues about the authenticity of a message and the headers are also required by IT Services if you ask us to investigate a message. IT Services particularly encourages users to report Phishing Scams asking for passwords to University systems in order to protect other users and the University as a whole.
Computer viruses are commonly spread by email. Your email is scanned centrally to detect viruses and junk mail. Messages containing viruses are deleted, and junk mail is tagged so that you can filter it out. Most email clients will allow you to set up filters, either to automatically delete unwanted messages, or put messages in appropriate folder (see information about your email program for details). IT Services maintain a set of detailed web pages about Viruses and how to deal with them.
Sometimes people may receive offensive mail that is directed to them personally. If a user is persistently harassed, or is threatened by email, then there are various measure that can be taken to shield them. If you are in this situation, then please contact IT Servies Help Centre (telephone (2)73200), and we shall arrange for one of our staff to discuss this with you confidentially. The Proctors regard any form of harassment as a serious University offence, and will deal severely with cases originating from within the University.
Secure email
Email is not a very secure medium. You can protect your privacy by encoding the email message before it is sent (using a system such as Pretty Good Privacy, PGP), and you can make a secure connection to the mail server (using SSL). PGP and SSL are explained in pages about Secure email.

4. Other Email Topics

How do Oxford Email Addresses work? We have some notes on the local conventions which should clarify matters.
Contacts/address book
Many people maintain large and important address books containing email addresses of their work and personal contacts. Nexus provides two distinct address books: a global Oxford one and a personal address book for each user. For more information, see Nexus Contacts.

When you first start using Nexus, you will probably want to import your address book from your existing email client so that you can access all your existing contacts from Nexus. For more information, see Nexus Contacts page.

Mailing Lists
If you want to have regular email discussions between a group of people, you should look at Mailing Lists.
The mail system, previous to the current mail system Nexus, was called 'Herald'. To ease the migration of accounts to Nexus, email addresses of the form were still honoured for a time. However, this support was removed in November 2011.

5. Got problems?

  • Help with many common email problems is included in the Email FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
  • More information about Nexus can be found on the Nexus pages.
  • What do you if an email which you have sent comes back to you? Ther are various reasons why this could happen, explained in Failed email.
  • If you have set up your email client to store your password away so that you do not have to type it in each time you read email, here are some tips on changing Stored Passwords.
  • If you simply cannot get connected to the network at all, we have some more general information about General Connection Problems.

6. Non-IT Services email

A number of units within the University have opted to manage their own email servers. If you are eligible to use these services you should contact their support services directly for further information.

7. When you leave

Once your University card has expired any accounts with IT Services will be deactivated. This means that you will not be able access your email account. However, if you have set up email forwarding before your card expires, this will generally work for a further two months. For students who leave in the summer, your mailbox will be deleted three months€™ later. Those returning in the autumn are advised to double-check that IT Services Registration knows that you are returning, and have made preparations to preserve your mailbox data. Please see Finishing at Oxford for more details.


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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 21 January 2019