How To Set Up iPhone Exchange ActiveSync

This blog post is probably out of date. If you want to set up Exchange ActiveSync, you should instead consult one my guides:
iPhone Exchange ActiveSync Setup iPad Exchange ActiveSync Setup
iPhone ActiveSync Troubleshooting iPad ActiveSync Troubleshooting

It’s finally here!  The iPhone now has most of the functions of the BlackBerry – over-the-air push and sync of Exchange email, contacts, and calendars!  Apple let the 2.0 OS out of the bag earlier today, and intrepid souls (and me) have taken the plunge and installed it.

While most people, including me, headed to the (also active) App Store to try out the native games, I quickly turned the other way – towards the new Microsoft Exchange integration.

Read on for my first impressions and instructions on getting it up and running.

For the most up-to-date information, see my iPhone Exchange ActiveSync Guide!

This post is part of my series focused on integrating the iPhone with Microsoft Exchange using ActiveSync:

By the way, the apps are great!  Sega’s Super Monkey Ball is touchy, but I think I’ll get the hang of it.  And my 4 year old loves Jirbo Match!  Too bad the Red Sox weren’t playing or my test of MLB At Bat would have been much more exciting!

Up and Running With Exchange

Seriously, why are you still reading? Head over to The iPhone Exchange ActiveSync Guide for current/useful information!

Here’s the quick how-to for getting Exchange up and running on your iPhone.  Note that this works on any iPhone with the version 2.0 software – the iPhone 3G comes with this out of the box, but original phones will need to be upgraded.  Update: You do not need to buy the Enterprise Data plan from AT&T in order for this to function – it will work with any plan, and even works on the iPod Touch! Update: The process is pretty much the same with iPhone OS 3.0!

We will set up the mail account first, then enable sync for Calendar and Contacts.

  1. Install iTunes 7.7 and upgrade your phone to iPhone OS 2.0 if necessary
  2. If you already have your Exchange server running with IMAP, disable the account in Mail Settings.  I left mine set up – no telling when or if I’ll need to revert!
  3. Set up a new mail account, selecting Exchange as in the photo above.
  4. Enter your email address (e.g. “[email protected]”) in the Email box.
  5. Enter your Exchange domain and username (e.g. “msexec\”) in the Username box and watch the text magically shrink to fit.
  6. Enter your password (e.g. “OuttaHere!”) in the Password box and marvel at the nifty new “show the last letter entered” feature.
  7. The iPhone will now try to automatically discover your Exchange server.  If you don’t have Exchange 2007 with Autodiscovery turned on, it will fail and warn you that it couldn’t validate your account.  You will have to manually enter your server name in the window.  Make sure you enter your ActiveSync server name, not the OWA server (as in Entourage) or the real Exchange server (as in Outlook).
  8. Now tap the home button and go into Mail.  You should see your new account appear, and it should show your folders and email messages within a few moments.  Congratulations!  Email is now set up!

Next we will enable sync for Contacts and Calendars.

Note:  You can’t sync Contacts and Calendars from both Exchange and iTunes! You must choose one or the other! And the iPhone will delete your old entries when you enable this! Update: You can do both desktop and over-the-air calendars in iPhone OS 3.0!

Ok, enough shouting, on with the show!

  1. Once you’re sure email is working, go back into the Exchange Account Settings tab (shown above) and tap Contacts to “ON”.
  2. The iPhone will warn you about deleting your existing entries, just like I just did!  If you’re sure, tap “Sync”.
  3. Now the iPhone will enable Sync.  Do not go running up to the Calendar or (new!) Contacts App and expect to see everything there immediately.  It took my phone about 5 minutes to populate these, and I was worried when I saw nothing there at first.
  4. Do the same for Calendar and you’re all set.  Wait a few and you will have pretty much full over-the-air Email, Contacts, and Calendar integration!

Initial Impressions

Prepare to be confused by the new Calendar and Contacts apps.  They now include categories, and you can find yourself scratching your head at seeing no entries when you’re in the wrong category.  I left my calendar in “Home” and there were no entries.

I had to tap “Calendars” at the top to return to the screen at right and select “All”.  This could be really nice – I could organize multiple calendars here for work and home.  But it’ll take some getting used to.  Update: Don’t bother with multiple calendars! Update: Multiple calendars rock in iPhone OS 3.0!

Note that calendar entries are color-coded in the calendar, too, which is a nice touch.  I don’t remember any similar functionality on my BlackBerry, but it could be that I just never discovered it.  It took me about five years to figure out how to see missed calls, after all!

The same problem appears with the Contacts application.  Here again, we have groups of contacts, and what you see is dependent on which group you’re currently “in”.  I’ll have to work out how to manage these using Outlook or Entourage.

Thankfully, Apple finally includes a Contacts application on the home screen in OS 2.0.  It was always frustrating to have to go into the Phone app just to look at someone’s info!

The App Store is good, but a little perplexing.  There are about 500 applications up for sale right now, and not all are worthwhile.  There are three “flashlight” apps, for example, all at different prices.  I think the App Store will be quite a mess once all 25,000 or so applications have been added!  It’s already hard to locate anything.

Apple released just two native apps:  A $5 Texas Hold’em game, and a free remote control app for iTunes.  The latter is pretty nifty – it seems to use Bonjour in reverse to present itself to iTunes instances running on the network.  The iPhone shows up in the sidebar and you have to enter a PIN to activate it.  This would be much cooler with an AirTunes device – maybe I’ll have to snap up one of the old 802.11g AirPort Expresses currently offered at MacMall for $59!

There are some other worthwhile apps, too.  MLB At Bat is great – live game updates and video clips of major plays.  I think I’ll be using this a lot!  Definitely worth $5 to me.

I already mentioned a couple of games, but I was more interested in trying out the social networking applications.  AOL released a free version of Instant Messenger, but I’m not sure if it (yet) supports Apple’s always-on push service.  There’s a FaceBook app, too, but it doesn’t look much better than the web version.

This brings me to a major concern about the App Store.  Why make a native app to do something the web does just as well?  I can see where an offline book or map reader would be handy, but why MySpace?  There are lots of Bibles in there already, but where is the off-line/on-line version of Wikipedia that I had hoped for?

Google added a search app, covering both the web and local content on the phone.  But where’s Google Talk?  Shockingly, after literally sharing the stage with Google at the iPhone’s introduction, Yahoo! is entirely absent from the App Store.  Microsoft isn’t there, either.

But there were some nice surprises.  Yelp, Pandora, and Paypal all have free clients that look useful.  Time will tell which of these apps really get used!

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  • Albe

    If you need to synchronize exchange server tasks and notes there is a new application available on AppStore. It's named Tasks'n Notes and you can find it here :

    This is the application support page :

  • Monish

    Awesome! The Exchange server setting had me stumped; this is a very clear explanation.


  • georgina

    I have 2 iphone running 2.2 o/s and I have followed the instructions mention but still to no avail it will not work… Does the software on the iphone need to be 2.0 or can it be a more recent version.
    Where it falls over is once the mail account has been created it goes to verify and keeps comming back that the password is incorrect?….

  • Rutherford jr

    If you want to access exchange server appointments, calendar, contacts and email on your ordinary mobile you can use a cool software called remosync…… i am using it on my regular phone from a year or so no problems with it.. you can download it here

  • Charles Nichols

    Tried everything mentioned by everyone. Still cannot sync to Exchange Server. Can remove the SIMS card from Iphone, put it in a BlackJack and everything works perfectly. Have checked multiple times my configuration settings and everything is correct. I know they're correct because they work with the BlackJack. What else could be wrong? SSL?

  • saqibali


    Do you know if the data (email) is encrypted during transport when using ActiveSync on iPhone?


  • Tomasi


    I follow the instruction that was stated here on your websute and i have try it our but still doesnt work.
    have any clue

  • keeza

    my iphone is dead the lcd scree on tthe inseide has gone can i still active sync it the version 2.0 8gb
    helllp x

  • keeza

    my iphone is dead the lcd scree on tthe inseide has gone can i still active sync it the version 2.0 8gb
    helllp x

  • Dan

    “Why make a native app to do something the web does just as well?”

    Because web browsers are not fundamentally designed to handle much more user interaction beyond simply displaying and reading text and images. Native applications always have deeper, richer access to the full system's APIs, user interface, and connections.

  • mobilebeautytherapy

    thank god for this-wonderful.

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  • Jason

    Hello Stephen
    Nice Site we having trouble receiving emails from our exchange server 2003 with the iphone once a day it lock the user mailbox we thought it the min and maxheartinterval on the server but coiuld the probelm lie with the iphone itself? we are using the old iphone not the iphone gs

  • byun583

    using activesync. contacts have an issue.
    it only can sync 450 contacts. i have more than 450 contacts.
    does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Vincent

    Hi there, I got my iphone synched up yesterday and when I delete emails from my iphone, it also deletes them from my inbox on outlook. I would rather the emails only be deleted from my iphone, how do I change the settings to make this happen?

  • kim

    Im having trouble with my iphone. Can anyone help? PLease!!

  • scorpian72

    how to set up my email on my iphone?

  • james

    how do i get my company server if they dont give it to me? I have a Doamin and Password

  • Mark D

    goto into your webmail, click on options, then on about – it should give you the name of the Client Access Server

  • Paul

    Thanks for this handy guide – quite a few details about Activesync setup are fairly opaque and mysterious! Having access to my Exchange calendar when I'm on the move is a big plus for me. I also like the fact I can turn off the email account during the weekends!

  • markthorpe

    Okay, I managed to set up an exchange account with ActiveSync, except I can't get mail. The calendars and contacts both sync perfectly. I can see my exchange mailboxes but when I try to open the mail box I get: Cannot Get Mail; the password is incorrect. Tried tonnes of different things but can't get my mail. Has anybody seen this type of thing before/

  • Emelda

    I usually rely on my husband to help me set up anything whether it be for my iphone, laptop, etc.
    With your instruction guide, I did it on my own and did not need further instruction. Thank you!

  • noob

    This is just crap. It says “DomainUser” on iphone and this so called tutorial tells us that we need to enter our domainuser there. Great info!

  • Kim

    It all works fine but my emails only last a week or so then disapear from the phone but not my outlook. Where do I tell it to keep all emails on my phone?

  • Mcipriani

    Did you have know what is teh setting to make this happen to only delete on the iphone but not inbox on Outlook.

  • Guest

    Are you kidding?!?

    When someone tells you to say, “I <state your name>, do swear to blah blah blah…..” You actually say, “I, State your name?”.

  • Elle

    I am using my Ipod Touch to access my work email on an Exchange server 2003. It works when I am accessing it using the wifi at the office, but it does NOT work when I use offsite wifi. What can I tell my IT guy to do so that it works offsite also? Thanks.

  • Sammmy_g_sammy_a

    Well since this is prety old, i thought id make a comment anyway. How is the autodiscover enabled?
    The link with the commands doesnt make sense to me, as we dont have a website, unless the website is OWA.

    It keeps saying ‘setactiveetc is not a recognized internal or external command…Anyone know the problem¿

  • Bharath

    I am not able to configure my microsoft exchange to my iPhone, i followed the method shown in this page? request to help to confirgure my iphone.

  • Joe Hanson

    I would like to delete some mail from my iPhone with out deleting from my exchange account. Is there any way to do this?

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  • Jeet

    This is pretty useful information, however please allow to present my requirement and let me know what could be done.

    I want to use my web application to perform remote commands like (lock, wipe) over the iPhone, can I integrate somehow MS ActiveSync to my web app? So user can do everything by remaining in my web app?

    Advance Thanks

  • meme

    how do I add a phone exchange…I already added email and calendars