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Keep Your MobileMe Email Address without iCloud

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[Updated 18 May 2012: Due to ambiguous information from Apple and conflicting reports from users, we’ve updated this article to reflect our current beliefs about what happens when someone migrates a MobileMe email address to iCloud. -Adam]

If you’ve already migrated your MobileMe account to iCloud, move right along — nothing to see here. But if you haven’t yet done so because one or more of your devices doesn’t meet Apple’s system requirements for iCloud, you should be aware that Apple is now offering MobileMe users a way to keep their existing email addresses — and possibly their calendars too — even after MobileMe shuts down for good on 30 June 2012.

Until a couple of weeks ago, it looked as though the end of MobileMe would mean the permanent disappearance of access to email for me.com or mac.com addresses that hadn’t been upgraded to iCloud. Apple supported the MobileMe-to-iCloud transition only on Macs running Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and on PCs running Windows 7 or Vista, so people with older desktop operating systems couldn’t migrate their old MobileMe accounts, even if they had iOS devices that support iCloud.

At the beginning of May, however, Apple sent email messages to people with valid but unconverted me.com and mac.com addresses, informing them that they could keep those addresses even if they couldn’t sign up for iCloud. In case you didn’t get one of these email messages, here’s a quote from Apple’s MobileMe Transition and iCloud page:

What if I just want to keep using my email on all my devices?
As of May 1, you can choose to keep using your mail after MobileMe ends, even on devices that don’t meet the iCloud system requirements. Just go to me.com/move and select the option to keep using your email after MobileMe ends. Once you have completed this short process, your mail will continue to work on devices that don’t meet the iCloud requirements after MobileMe ends on June 30th, 2012.

Because I migrated my own MobileMe account to iCloud a long time ago, I didn’t get this message from Apple and couldn’t walk through the steps myself. So, please take the following as second-hand information, compiled from a variety of sources on the Web, personal email messages, and the comments to an earlier version of this article.

If you visit that page and sign in with your old address, you’ll see two “Next” buttons, one next to “All My Devices Are Compatible” and the other next to “Not all my devices meet requirements.” If you click the latter, you’re prompted to agree to the iCloud Terms of Service, after which your email — but not other MobileMe data — is transitioned to iCloud in such a way that you can continue to use it on your existing devices. If you later upgrade your devices so they are fully iCloud-compatible, you can then use them to sign in to iCloud and access the remaining features as well.

However, what happens next is somewhat ambiguous, and I’ve read conflicting reports. The MobileMe Transition and iCloud page doesn’t specify whether continuing access to email will be available only via a Web browser (and if so, at which URL) or also using conventional email clients such as Mail. Assuming you can keep using Mail with your existing settings, it’s unclear whether that will continue to be true after June 30th, or whether changes will be required.

Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together:

  • As far as Web-based access goes, people who have made the partial transition can continue, for now, to check their mail at www.me.com, and in fact, some people are redirected from www.icloud.com to www.me.com. Apple support reps have reportedly said that after June 30th, Web-based email access will switch to www.icloud.com.

  • Some people say they can, for the time being, continue to access their email accounts in Mail on a Mac or iOS device without altering any settings at all. But other information suggests that after this partial iCloud transition, one must go through the same steps to access iCloud email that would be required of someone who has done the full migration and wanted to use a pre-Lion or pre-iOS 5 device. That is: In Mail, delete your existing MobileMe account: Choose Mail > Preferences, click Accounts, select your MobileMe account in the list on the left, and click the – (minus) button. Then click the + (plus) button to add a new account and fill in your mac.com or me.com address and password. But now hold down Option while clicking Continue. This bypasses Mail’s automated setup process (which would configure the account for the MobileMe servers — not what you want). On the next screen, choose IMAP from the Account Type pop-up menu. Enter imap.mail.me.com for the incoming mail server address, click Continue, and enter smtp.mail.me.com for the outgoing mail server address. On an iOS device, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, tap Add Account, and then tap Other followed by Add Mail Account; fill in your details; and then, with IMAP selected, enter the IMAP and SMTP server addresses mentioned above.

    It could be that existing MobileMe account settings will work for now, but that after June 30th the new iCloud settings will be required. It could also be the case that different settings are working for different people. One person told me that after moving his email, although imap.mail.me.com did not work for incoming mail, smtp.mail.me.com did work for outgoing mail. I’m not sure what to make of that.

  • If you have performed a conventional, full MobileMe-to-iCloud transition using a Mac running Lion or a PC running Windows 7 or Vista, you can still access your iCloud calendars on a Mac running Snow Leopard — in a Web browser, via BusyCal, or, with some extra effort, using iCal. (For more information, see “iCal in Snow Leopard Can Participate in iCloud,” 11 December 2011.) Circumstantial evidence suggests that if, on the special me.com/move page, you click the Next button next to “All My Devices Are Compatible” (even if they aren’t), not only your email but also your calendars will be transitioned to iCloud. It’s unclear what happens to the rest of your data in that case; how, if at all, this process differs from a complete MobileMe-to-iCloud transition; and whether you can (temporarily or permanently) continue to access your calendars in iCal or Calendars with your existing settings.

In short, although it’s fantastic that people still running Snow Leopard can hang onto their MobileMe email accounts, Apple has left a lot of the details vague and confusing. If you can add any clarifications from your own experiences in the comments, please do!

Finally, once you’ve done all this, don’t forget to deal with any other data that’s still on the MobileMe servers — I’m thinking especially of any files on your iDisk. The only safe assumption is that they will all be irrevocably deleted at the end of June, so don’t wait to find them new homes! I offer suggestions for doing so, as well as a great deal of other helpful information about moving to iCloud, in “Take Control of iCloud.”

Check out the Take Control ebooks that expand on the topic in this article:

Learn to configure your iCloud life optimally so you can view media on different devices, save and share photos, sync and access passwords and data, sync documents between multiple devices, find a missing device, and more. iCloud sounds simple, but can become complex quickly, and this book has the advice you need to avoid problems and get the most out of iCloud.

 

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Comments about Keep Your MobileMe Email Address without iCloud

Enrico (ACMT)  2012-05-14 09:01
People with computers not meeting iCloud's specifications will LOSE any possibility to sync. Those people should seriously consider switching to Gmail for calendar and email syncing between old and new devices.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-14 09:17
As I explained in the article, you can continue to sync mail and calendars on your Macs. However, it is true that you'll lose syncing of that data on iOS devices, and there, Gmail might be a better option.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-14 09:09
You know, I have updated to iCloud, and my me.com email kept working in Apple Mail for quite some time. But recently, it started to be flaky about connecting, and to fix it I had to delete the old MobileMe account and create a new one for iCloud. So even if you have updated to iCloud, you may need to tweak your account information in Apple Mail.
Devesh   2012-05-14 14:30
I recently made the move while staying in 10.6.8 and using Eudora. (I know my days are numbered there, but this feels like a partial reprieve...) However any time I've tried to see my mail online, logging in to iCloud brings me back to my old Mobile.Me account. The fine folks at Apple Express Lane Chat Support assured me this was normal and it would automagically shift to the iCloud version when The Change happens. I'll rest a little easier when I've actually seen that...
Mark Martinez  2012-05-14 14:06
Any idea if forwarding will be preserved? Mail sent to me at me.com and mac.com is currently forwarded. I'd like to keep it that way.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-14 14:25
My educated guess is that forwarding will continue to work as before, as long as you follow the steps in the article to move your email and calendar accounts. If you don't, I presume it will break.
Médard  2012-05-15 01:53
Mmmmh...

I followed the given method, but Mail doesn't seem to be happy with the new account ;->

So, I recreated the original MobileMe account -- no matter if there a duplicate account, I want to be able to see my mail ;-)

By the way, I am staying with Snow Leopard, not very glad to be *obliged* to upgrade to Lion in order to get iCloud.

I understood that the Mail migration is a good move from Apple, though!

Also, I subscribed to iCloud on my iPad -- retaining my Dropbox account :-)

No such thing as Scriptogram on iCloud!
Neil Laubenthal  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2012-05-15 06:20
Does anybody know if iTunes purchases with the me.com email will still be available? My wife purchased most of her iTunes stuff with her @laubenthal.net email but did get a few with her @me.com email. The @me.com email has already been converted over to iCloud for her iDevices and MBP; but I haven't seen anything about whether @me.com will still work for iTunes after June 30.

Thanks.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-15 08:27
Your Apple ID (which is what the @me.com address is) will continue to work, and it will still reflect whatever purchases were previously made with it. That's tracked separately from the rest of iCloud data.
Peter Hinman  2012-05-15 07:55
I'm still confused about the interaction of SL with iCloud. On both my iCal and Address Book in 10.6.8, I see calendars/groups listed under the iCloud header that seem both to work fine and sync with my iPhone/iPad. I did not go through any of the machinations described in the December article. My main problem is that contacts seem to replicate -- in some cases I have as many as six copies of a contact between iCloud, on my mac, and presumably MobileMe, although those are not listed separately.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-15 08:29
I can't say what's going on in your case specifically, but one common cause of duplicated contacts and calendar entries is when you sync an iOS device BOTH with iTunes via USB AND with iCloud (or MobileMe). It's got to be one or the other—if you're using iCloud, turn off iTunes syncing. Of course, just turning that off won't eliminate the existing duplicates; you'll have to weed those out yourself. But if that was the source of the problem, it'll prevent future duplicates.
Peter Hinman  2012-05-15 11:23
Yes, that's probably at least part of the problem with duplicates. But I still don't understand the first part of my question -- how is my 10.6.8 seeming well-connected to iCloud when supposedly it can't be?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-15 11:24
I truly do not know!
pwrmacbob  2012-05-16 19:42
My kids iMac has OS X Lion, but they both have older iPod touches without iOS 5. If they do not sync their mail between devices, then moving to iCloud is not a problem. If they do currently sync between devices, I guess they would have a problem? Would this be a correct statement?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-17 00:12
It's still possible to check email on the older devices, even after moving to iCloud, because you can just set them up to use regular IMAP accounts (with the addresses shown in this article). But contacts won't sync, and neither will most other data.
I am seriously confusled. I am tryng to figure out what to do with my MobileMe account: should I move to iCloud? When? How? Not?

I did receive an email from MobileMe givjng me the option of saving my email addresses once the service ends. I took it, and several days later received an email from Apple reassuring me that my email addreess/s would still work once MM turned belly up. Meantime my MM web access still works, and mail, calendar, iDisk etc. all work so my MM account is still active (and syncing my calendars). When I acccess https://www.me.com.move I see a message confirming that my my mail will keep working after MobileMe ends.

Fine, but your article has created confusion. You say that not only will my MobileMe email address work without iCloud but also that *calendars will also keep working*. That is nowhere mentioned on any official Apple page I've found. And that email will only work via web access though, unless one manually changes the server info in Mail/Accounts, which makes sense. Apple does say that in a support document, though giving a different technique for achieving this aim.

But calendars? Never mentioned by Apple.

You also say that after transitioning and going through the short process, logging onto www.icloud.com lets me access those two services - email and calendars - but actually I get a login page, and after logging in with my Apple ID I get an alert saying "To sign in, move this MobileMe account to iCloud". So though I seemingly will not lose email address I haven't actually been moved to iCloud, even for the limited service my incompatible devices offer.

As regards calendars, I have purchased BusyCal in preparation for the move, and a recent post on its site says it is compatible with iCloud not only on Lion but also on Snow Leopard and even Leopard devices. But doesn't say how...

But does say to use it I should transition to iCloud.

So should I?

G4 MDD Dual 1.25 GHz/2 Gb RAM

OSX 10.5.8

MacBook Pro 13" 2.53 GHz/8Gb RAM

OSX 10.6.8

iPhone 4S

iOS 5.1
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-17 05:35
Gotta read the articles! :-)

About iCal in Snow Leopard: http://tidbits.com/article/12669

About BusyCal and iCloud: http://tidbits.com/article/12662
I had read the articles. Both presuppose you have at least one Mac running Lion (to do the actual transitioning, and to retrieve settings). I don't.
Devesh   2012-05-18 01:17
FWIW, I transitioned and also have no Macs running Lion. Logging on to my Web based mail still takes me to the old MobileMe page, but Apple Support told me that would change when iCloud takes over.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-18 01:23
Out of curiosity, when you say "Logging on to your Web based mail," do you mean going to www.me.com or www.icloud.com? That's one of those ambiguous bits that I'm hearing conflicting reports about.
When I go to icloud.com and type in my login I get an alert saying "To sign in, move this MobileMe account to iCloud"with two buttons below - Close and Get Started. So I presume, like the previous poster that my account is still at MobileMe and (hopefully) will be moved to iCloud at the end of June.
Furthermore, when I go to me.com and sign in my mail appears as usual. But at the bottom left under my mailboxes there is a new box: "Reminder: Your mail will be moved to iCloud after June 30th." If I then switch to Calendar no such message appears.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-17 06:02
Since you've already migrated your email, you don't need to do anything further right now. As for calendars, see the last screenshot on this page:

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/apple_lets_mobileme_users_keep_mac.com_me.com_e-mail/

And, read the articles Adam mentioned :-).

Joe
Thanks, I had read the articles (see my reply to Adam). Also the last screenshot on that page is right under the line about what to do when your devices *are* compliant - i.e. running Lion - so it is unclear whether that pertains to the previous situation when they aren’t. I don't remember seeing any reference to iCal but it was sometime back and perhaps Apple added it later.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-18 01:04
Yes, you're quite right. That's ambiguous. Unfortunately, I can only go by the information I've read in various places on the Web, email I've received from a number of people, and the comments here—I migrated my own account a long time ago, so it's impossible for me to test this personally. And what I'm hearing is highly contradictory. Users in what appear to be the same situation see very different results. I don't know quite what to make of it. When I wrote this article, I included the best inferences I could make at the time, but now I'm less certain of some of the details. Continuing to investigate…
The reason I had for possibly moving to iCloud now is to try out the BusyCal syncing. BusyCal recently put up a page on its site of instructions on how to migrate, and according to them, both Leopard and Snow Leopard are supported as well as Lion...which of course interests me. But to try it I would have to actually move to iCloud first, I imagine.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-18 10:04
It's starting to look that way—I may have given you bad information about the calendars moving. I'm in the process of reworking the article to explain the details as I now understand them (and it's still a very imperfect understanding, I'm afraid).
Confirmed. I wrote BusyCal support and they said I should move now, or in any case before June 30th to take advantage of their migration route.
Devesh   2012-05-19 03:03
It matters not whether I log in at iCloud or Me, I end up at my old Me account.
xairbusdriver  2012-05-26 08:48
I attempted to use email in my OLDER iPhone (iOS 4.x) with a little success... for a few days. But I gave up with the constant complaints to check the Incoming settings or Password. I finally noticed that the default setting for the incoming port showed 143 (I think). I changed that to 993 and it seems to be working... today, anyway! :-)
Rgirouard  2012-07-02 11:25
Apple has botched this...Steve would be outraged! I have been on Mac since the SE and always resolve issues quickly..I have switched my me.com mail to iCloud. I am on vacation trying to access my mail from my daughters iPad....iCloud.com just sends me in a setup circle...which I already supposedly did on my Mac at home...I should get web access to my mail from any computer...I give up...may prompt me to go to gmail....they left a huge opening for google to. Benefit. Not good Tim.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-07-02 17:19
If you're trying to access your account in Safari on an iPad, that's the problem. It has NEVER been possible to access email/calendars/contacts/etc., either in MobileMe or in iCloud, from Safari on an iOS device. You have to use the built-in apps (Mail, etc.).
Thad C  2012-07-10 10:33
I did everything in the article in order to still be able to access my .mac/.me e-mail address via Mail, but I end up getting this message: "The server returned the error: The server “imap.mail.me.com” refused to allow a connection on port 143." Any help please?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-07-10 11:03
My guess: you need to turn on SSL, which will mean you're using port 993. Go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts > your iCloud account > Advanced, and make sure Use SSL is checked. See also http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4864 .
Thad C  2012-07-11 10:57
Thank you so much, that actually worked for me! I'm still having issues viewing my deleted e-mails (their simply is no box for them), but all my new mail shows up just fine.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-07-11 12:58
Glad it's working! If you look on the iCloud Web site, do you see a Trash or Deleted Messages (or similar) mailbox there?