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Q: How can I forward my email to another address?

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Applies to new mail and calendaring invitations only!
This only applies to incoming mail and Exchange calendaring invitations being received at your MIT email address. This procedure will not have any effect on local mail downloaded to your computer or mail already stored on the MIT mail servers.
Not responsible for lost email
Once mail leaves the MIT servers, we have no way of knowing if it was successfully delivered, nor do we have any way of determining what happened to a message that was not delivered. Please be aware of the risks involved in forwarding your email to another address.


There are two ways to forward your incoming MIT email to another address: forwarding and splitting. When you forward your mail, any mail coming to your MIT account will be immediately redirected to the address you specify, and will not show up in your MIT email inbox or MIT web email access program (WebMail or OWA). When you split your email, a copy is made of all incoming email. One copy will appear in your MIT inbox as before, and another copy will be sent to the address you specify.


1. Log in to Athena

The forwarding and splitting commands are available from the Athena command prompt. You need to log into Athena either on an MIT Athena workstation or using ssh or telnet to You can also go to which will allow you to start up an ssh connection using a Java applet in a web page.

2.a. Forwarding your email

If you want to forward all of your mail to a non-MIT.EDU address (for example, if you want to get all your MIT mail sent to your MEDIA.MIT.EDU,, or address instead), you should type the below at your Athena command prompt, usually athena%:

joeuser@athena:~$ chpobox -s

Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for

It may take a minute or two for the forwarding to take effect - longer if there are a number of other people making changes at the same time. In the meantime, you should continue checking your MIT email account.

Carefully check your email address
The chpobox command does not actually check to see if the address you specify exists or is correct, only if it is entered in a correct format of username@hostname. If there is no such mailing address, you will not receive mail, and any mail sent to you will be bounced back to the original sender.

2.b. Splitting your email

It is also possible to forward all your email to another email account while still having a copy sent to your athena account. This feature is known as having a SPLIT mailbox. To do this, type the following at the Athena command prompt, usually athena%:

joeuser@athena:~$ chpobox -S

Note: Be sure to fill in the correct information for

Please note that splitting uses the capital "S", while forwarding uses the lowercase "s".

You will be able to check your email both on Athena and via your account. Make sure you type your address exactly as it should be spelled, otherwise copies of your mail will be bounced back to the sender.

Note that there is a quota for how much mail can be stored in your mail box on MIT's mail servers. You should not allow that mail to accumulate without checking it. If you exceed your quota for stored MIT mail, mail sent to you will begin to bounce back to the sender.

The default mail quota is 2GB; depending on how much mail you receive you may have only a week or so before your mail starts bouncing, if you do not move it to your local computer with an email client or login to delete it from the server.

Ask the User Accounts Office to set it up for you

If you do not usually log into Athena or have trouble with the above commands, you can ask the User Accounts office at the IS&T Computing Help Desk to set up forwarding for you.

  1. Please email your request for forwarding to
  2. Make sure you include the exact email address you want your mail forwarded to

We ask that you email such requests rather than contacting User Accounts by phone, as it is very important that the email address you want to forward your mail to is carefully and correctly specified. Mistakes can easily creep in over the phone. In addition, we will confirm forwarding to your MIT email address to make sure it is indeed you asking us to set up forwarding.

If you have questions, you can also call us before sending your email forwarding request.

  • Group name: User Accounts
  • Email:
  • Phone: +1-617-253-1325

Reverting to your MIT email account

If you want to stop forwarding your mail, just type the below at the Athena command prompt, usually athena%:

joeuser@athena:~$ chpobox -p


After a minute or two (maybe longer) your mail will be delivered to and only to your original MIT mailbox. Please continue to check your external addresses until the update takes effect.

Checking your forwarding status

If you want to see where your mail is currently being forwarded to, you can type this command at the Athena command prompt:

joeuser@athena:~$ chpobox


It will tell you something that looks like one of the following:

Output Meaning
User joeuser, Type IMAP, Box: joeuser.po (joeuser@PO11.MIT.EDU)
  Modified by joeuser@ATHENA.MIT.EDU on 06-jul-2001 12:37:21 with chpobox
The above mail is not being forwarded. Type "IMAP" is what the MIT mail servers are identified as. The entry "joeuser@PO11.MIT.EDU" means that the mail is being delivered to joeuser's post office server, which is PO11.MIT.EDU.
User jarandom, Type EXCHANGE, Box: EXCHANGE.MIT.EDU (jarandom@EXCHANGE.MIT.EDU)
  Modified by jarandom on 26-aug-2010 10:23:38 with chpobox
The above mail is not being forwarded. Type "EXCHANGE" is what the MIT Exchange mail servers are identified as. The entry "EXCHANGE.MIT.EDU" means that the mail is being delivered to jarandom's Exchange inbox.
User freduser, Type SMTP, Box:
  Modified by freduser@ATHENA.MIT.EDU on 28-aug-2001 09:58:00 with chpobox
The above mail has regular forwarding set up, as indicated by the "SMTP" entry. Any mail addressed to will instead be delivered to
User janeuser, Type SPLIT, Box: (janeuser@PO12.MIT.EDU,
  Modified by janeuser on 20-mar-2000 21:21:34 with chpobox
The above mail has split forwarding set up, as seen by the "SPLIT" entry type. Jane's mail is going both to her MIT post office server (PO12), and to her AOL account,

See also

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

January 16, 2014

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