How To Fix Palm Pre's "Error Sending Mail" Problem

Posted by Artem Russakovskii on July 14th, 2009 in Personal, Technology

Updated: January 30th, 2013

imageThe Problem

My fiancée Emilie has had her Palm Pre for about 2 weeks now, and one specific problem that started showing up last week has been incredibly annoying, causing us all kinds of trouble.

After Emilie got the phone, she added 3 email accounts – Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo. One day, after sending an email through the Pre, a popup showed up that said "Error sending" followed by the subject of that specific email. Swiping the error away didn't help – it just came back 5 minutes later. In fact, it has been coming back every 5 minutes of every day since, lighting up the screen each time. Thus, not only it was annoying, but it was running down the battery like crazy – a full charge lasted between 1/2 and 3/4 of the day with very mild usage.

I deleted the problematic message from the Outbox a long time ago. The error didn't disappear and kept popping up. Additionally, whichever Outbox clicking on the annoying popup led to was having trouble refreshing, even though it wouldn't display what the error actually was – just a yellow exclamation sign would show up. Refreshing the folder didn't help and would take an unusually long time.

Well, finally, I got sick of waiting for Palm to update its OS with possible fixes and set out to find one myself.

Turns out a ton of people are having the same issue, as evident in all Palm Pre forums. For example, Palm.com forum or Precentral.net forum. I really didn't like the common suggestion to delete and re-add the problematic account because

  • that just most likely temporarily pushes the problem back as I'm sure it would come back again to haunt me
  • this could potentially erase or disconnect all contacts associated with that account
  • my engineering mind would be left puzzled
  • I wasn't sure which account was having the problem (later it turned out the culprit was Yahoo)

Surprisingly, I found the clue that led me to the solution on Yahoo Answers – yeah, that place where nothing intelligent is allowed to exist (with certain exceptions).

The Solution

To make a long story short, Pre messed up Yahoo's outgoing mail settings. My particular problem was the SMTP (that's the outgoing mail server) port was set to 995, which is in fact an incoming POP3 mail server port. I don't know how it happened or if it even worked in the first place but the fact is: the right outgoing port for secure (SSL) SMTP connections is 465. Also, for some reason the SMTP username was blank but the password was filled in. WTF, Pre?

When I changed SMTP port to 465 and entered the username, as specified in that Yahoo Answers post (without the @yahoo.com part), the error message went away and the Outbox refreshed just fine. BTW, my Pre has the incoming mail server set to POP3, while the Yahoo Answers post was set to IMAP – again, why the differences? I'd frankly prefer IMAP anyway.

To get to your mail account settings, open up your email application, go to the Email menu in Pre's top left corner, tap Preferences & Accounts, then tap the offending account, scroll down, and tap Change Login Settings. When you are done, just swipe back (half swipe from right to left in the gesture area). Here's a handy screenshot I took of the relevant area:

image -> image

Confused by all the technical definitions, like SMTP, IMAP, POP3, SSL, incoming and outgoing accounts? Have a look at this helpful FAQ page, hopefully it'll clear things up.

In the meantime, here's a handy excerpt with port numbers for various connection and server types:

    POP3 – port 110
    IMAP – port 143
    SMTP – port 25
    HTTP – port 80
    Secure SMTP (SSMTP) – port 465
    Secure IMAP (IMAP4-SSL) – port 585
    IMAP4 over SSL (IMAPS) – port 993
    Secure POP3 (SSL-POP) – port 995

If you are experiencing the same symptoms, check ALL your mail settings, not just the ones I mentioned. Who knows what else your Pre may have messed up?

Update: if you are having trouble sending your mail only while on WiFi, it is possible that your home broadband router is blocking the needed ports. Try to edit the router configuration and open the ports used by your Pre's mail configuration – hopefully the problem will be solved.


Palm, are you hearing us? We are not happy with the bugs and the unhelpful error messages (or lack thereof altogether)! 3 measly updates in the last 2 months is quite pathetic. I hope you are working on a much bigger update behind the scenes.

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Artem Russakovskii is a San Francisco programmer and blogger. Follow Artem on Twitter (@ArtemR) or subscribe to the RSS feed.

In the meantime, if you found this article useful, feel free to buy me a cup of coffee below.