What's New With Outbound Email Processing

We've made changes in handling emails that we're unable to hand-off to either your custom SMTP service or the recipient server. These changes give you more visibility and control over how your email is sent from Help Scout, and will help improve email deliverability overall. 

In this article


When you configure Help Scout to send using a custom SMTP service — whether you're sending through Gmail (Google OAuth) or another provider's SMTP service — each time you send an email from Help Scout, we establish a connection to your email provider and hand off the outbound email to that provider. Your email provider then delivers that email to your recipient's server. This helps with email deliverability and allows your organization to control outbound emails at your email provider. 

If you're using Help Scout servers to send, we connect directly to the recipient's email server to hand off the email. For example, if you send an email to yourcustomer@yahoo.com, Help Scout connects to Yahoo's email server to hand off that message. 

Not sure which one applies to your mailbox? Head over to Outgoing Email Settings for more information on the options and how to check the settings for your mailbox.


Prior to this update, if you were using a custom SMTP server and we were unable to hand off to your provider, we'd silently fall back to use Help Scout servers to send your email instead, then separately send an email notification to your Help Scout Administrators as a heads up. This allowed your emails to go out from Help Scout immediately even when there were issues with your server, but was not an ideal solution for email deliverability and your ability to control email delivery. 

If you were sending from Help Scout servers and the recipient server would not accept the email, it would simply silently fail and your message would not be handed off.


With this update, we will now hold for delivery any email that we're unable to successfully hand off to your email provider or the recipient server. We will show the email in the Needs Attention folder in your mailbox, where you can view the error your provider or the recipient server gave when we tried to hand off the email and take further action. We will no longer fall back to sending from our servers automatically if you're using a custom SMTP service, though your Administrators may choose to switch to send from Help Scout servers if that is the best solution for you. 

New Alerts in Needs Attention

When we are unable to connect to your email provider or your provider will not accept an email, we will hold that email and place it into the Needs Attention folder view where the Status will show as Bounced. 

Any member of your team that has access to the mailbox will be able to click into the conversation from that folder view to see more information and take action. You may choose to Retry the email, Edit it, or Dismiss it. 

Click the View details link to open a pop-up window showing the error we received from the email provider we attempted to deliver to. 

Click Dismiss if you are unable to resolve the delivery issue but would like to no longer see this alert. This will remove the conversation from the Needs Attention folder, and the reply will be saved in the conversation history though no email out was generated to the customer. You will no longer have the option to Retry to send that reply.

Troubleshooting Custom SMTP Bounces

If you are using a custom SMTP service, the error you see in the pop-up window is what your email provider's server reported at the time we tried to connect. If you are unsure as to why you are seeing an error, you may need to reach out to your email provider for assistance. 

You may also choose to change your Outgoing Email settings to Use Help Scout and retry the bounced email to send from our servers instead. 

If you are using Google OAuth, you can find a bit more troubleshooting help in the article Use Google OAuth to Send From Help Scout. If you're using any other SMTP service to send, take a look at Use SMTP to Send From Help Scout article for a bit more help there. 

Troubleshooting Bounces Using Help Scout Servers

We've created a guide to help you troubleshoot the bounces you might see — head over to Troubleshooting Conversations in Needs Attention and Bounces for lots more details!

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