The iPhone Exchange ActiveSync Guide

The iPhone now has most of the functions of the BlackBerry: Over-the-air push and sync of Exchange email, contacts, and calendars! This guide is intended as a concise walkthrough of how to get up and running with an iPhone and Microsoft Exchange server.

Note: This guide will be continually updated to reflect the latest version of iPhone OS, currently 4.0, and hardware, currently the iPhone 4. Unlike many other phones, users of older OSes and phones can freely and easily upgrade to the latest version. However iOS 4 does not run on the original iPhone.

Also see the iPad Exchange ActiveSync Guide!

What You Get

Apple iPhone users get the following Exchange server integration features:

  1. ActiveSync Email, Contacts, and Calendars – The iPhone can sync with servers running Exchange ActiveSync. Typically a Microsoft Exchange server, the iPhone also supports Google, NuevaSync, Yahoo’s Zimbra, Microsoft Live Hotmail, and other servers that use Exchange ActiveSync.
  2. Global Address List – The iPhone’s Contacts application can search an Exchange server’s Global Address List over ActiveSync.
  3. IMAP and POP Email – The iPhone can also send, receive, and synchronize email messages with a number of IMAP and POP servers, including Microsoft Exchange.
  4. LDAP Contacts – A number of LDAP servers can be configured for contact search and retrieval.

Quick Start: Up and Running With Exchange

Here’s the quick how-to for getting Exchange up and running on your iPhone. Note that this method works with any iPhone with OS 2.0 or better. Users of iOS 4 and above can sync with more than one Exchange ActiveSync server, though earlier versions were limited to just one.

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

Before You Begin

* Install the latest version of iTunes and upgrade your phone to the latest iPhone OS
* If you already have your Exchange server running with IMAP, disable the account in Mail Settings. I left mine set up but disabled – no telling when or if I’ll need to fall back on it!
* Back up your phone.
* Make sure you are connected to a reliable and fast network (3G or Wi-Fi) before beginning

Configuring Exchange ActiveSync on the iPhone

Tap the “Settings” icon from the home screen, then “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”
In “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”, tap “Add Account…”
Tap the “Microsoft Exchange” icon
Note: This is where you come in if you tap the Mail app from the home screen with no accounts configured
Now you will enter your Exchange account information:

  1. Your full Email address
  2. You may need to enter an Exchange Domain (like “IT” or “Sales”), but this is not the place to enter the Internet domain name (like “”) (see “What Domain Name Do I Enter?” below for more details)
  3. Your Exchange Username
    Note: This is usually the first part of your email address before the “@” sign (e.g. “billg”), but you may have to also enter your Exchange domain (e.g. “msexec\”)
  4. Your Exchange Password
  5. You can optionally modify the Description to something other than your email address
Tap “Next” and the iPhone will attempt to auto-discover and configure the Exchange account
Note: This can take up to 5 minutes on slow networks or if autodiscovery is not supported
If your Exchange server configuration does not support Autodiscovery, it will fail (saying it couldn’t validate your account), and you will have to manually enter the Server name (see “Which Server Name Do I Enter?” below for more details)
Tap “Next” and the iPhone will verify the configuration
By default, the iPhone will synchronize all three data types (Mail, Contacts, and Calendars) with your Exchange ActiveSync server, but you can turn one or more off if you wish
Tap “Done” and the iPhone will finalize the configuration and return you to the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” menu while your iPhone communicates with the server
Note: It can take a few minutes for calendar entries and contacts to show up
* If you are running iOS 4, you should install the Exchange timeout profile (per Apple TS3398) by clicking here from the iPhone and rebooting.

If you can’t get things to work, try my iPhone Exchange ActiveSync Troubleshooting Guide.