Email At Apple Stores

Apple stores are an oasis of technology for the road warrior, or even the casual passerby who wants to access the Internet. Apple's retail philosophy is that the stores are considered to be like a great library, where you can come in, browse the products and Web, and feel comfortable. Part of this is being able to access the stores' open AirPort Wi-Fi network using your own computer.

First, all Apple stores have a T1 (1.5 mbps) or T3 (45 mbps) connection to the Internet, which provides plenty of upload and download speeds for the store's computers, as well as the file transfers performed by the store's Xserve computer. The Internet link is connected to the store's several AirPort Extreme base stations, which provide either 11 mbps or 54 mbps connections to any computer within range. In order to connect to the AirPort network, you might need to change some settings on your OS X computer.

Overall, you must have an AirPort card installed, turn on the AirPort software on your computer, and then configure your Network setting to use DHCP, so the store's network will automatically assign your computer an IP address. If you can handle that without instructions, go to it! Otherwise?

First, you must an AirPort card installed in your computer--some models come with the card installed, while others require that you purchase the card separately and have it installed (or do it yourself).

Next, you can simply run the program "AirPort Setup Assistant" and it will configure your computer and AirPort software to receive the store's network. Or you can take a few steps yourself to quickly configure your computer. If you want to configure manually, continue…

Next, the AirPort software on your computer must be turned on. If you've configured your laptop to show the AirPort status icon in the menu bar, just click on the icon (upper right somewhere), and make sure the "AirPort: On" status is displayed. If not, scroll down to "Turn AirPort On" and select that option.

If you don't have the AirPort status displayed in the menu bar, find the Internet Connect program in your Applications folder, double-click to run it, and click on the "Turn AirPort Off" button. You should now have some wireless broadcasting going on!

At this point, you may have an Internet connection--open your Safari browser and see you can surf a Web page. If so…you're all set! If not, continue…

Click on the Network Settings icon in the Dock, and then on the Network (globe-looking) icon. Click on the Location drop-down menu and select Automatic. Click on the Show drop-down menu and select AirPort. Select the AirPort button among the four (AirPort, TCP/IP, AppleTalk, Proxies). Make sure the "By default, join:" drop-down menu says Automatic.

Your computer should link up with the store's AirPort network at this point, and then to the in-store network, and your computer should be assigned an IP address within 30 seconds or so. If not, click on the TCP/IP button to display your setting, and make sure the "Configure IPv4" drop-down menu says, "Using DHCP." If not, select that option. Now wait and see if the network assigns you an IP address, which should appear in the "IP Address:" space. If that space is blank (just to the left of the "Renew DHCP Lease" button), then you haven't connected.

If you're still not hooked up, head to the Genius Bar and get some advice.

Once you're connected, you don't have to change any settings to receive your email. The Mail program will simply log in to your email server (pop3) and download the email to your computer.

However, if you want to send email, you'll have to change one setting for your e-mail program, essentially adding Apple's .mac server to the list of out-going mail servers used by your e-mail program.

Select "Preferences" under the "Mail" menu, and then click on "Accounts" to show the various options for your mail account. In the option bar, selected "Account Information," and then look down to the bottom option, "Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP)."

Click on the drop-down menu and select "Add Server…" A new information pane will appear, so for "Outgoing Mail Server" type smtp.mac.com. Don't change any of the other settings, but click on "OK" to close the pane, then press on the red "Close" button for the peferences pane--the program should ask you if you want to save the changes, so just say "Yes."

That's it? You should now be able to send mail out-bound using Apple's .mac server.