Simplifying Collaboration – using email for teamwork within activeCollab

activeCollab is awesome, but some people just won’t use it. Why not let them use email? You will be able to set seamless email communication – both outgoing and incoming – for your activeCollab projects after watching this video. We demonstrate everything you need to know about the Incoming Mail module of activeCollab here. So go ahead, get more people on-board with activeCollab!


Hello and Welcome to another episode of activeCollab tutorials. I am your host Nirav Mehta. And today we will talk about how you can simplify collaboration on your projects using email.

Over the past 10 years, we have used a number of different project management systems. We have settled on activeCollab for a year. But at all times, some people just don’t use the system.

They are either too busy to log in to activeCollab, hate to remember another password and generally hide under their desks when you come around. If it’s your boss or a client, they may keep asking you questions about activeCollab and use least of the knowledge you provide them. Despite your gentle reminders, they will continue communicating over email.

Sure, activeCollab is not _that_ simple to use. You may need to train and orient users to get maximum advantage. And you can’t afford to do that with everyone.

So if activeCollab is coming in the way of collaboration, why not get it out of the way? The truth is, you don’t really need people to login to activeCollab to provide you feedback.

No, I am not telling you to dump activeCollab! It’s one of the best web based project collaboration systems. What I am suggesting, is to eliminate the need to login to activeCollab to get updates and provide feedback.

Enter the Incoming Mail module for activeCollab.

Incoming Mail – a built in module – monitors email accounts for new messages and imports them to activeCollab. activeCollab sends email notifications of new comments and other important events. Incoming Mail allows notification recipients to reply to the notification. This reply will then automatically be appended to the original discussion or ticket as a comment.

It can even import attachments and works according to activeCollab’s security mechanism.

Incoming Mail module, coupled with notifications, removes the need for people to login to activeCollab to find updates and post comments.

Here’s how it works.

1. Your clients sends an email to a designated email address: let’s say “”.
2. Incoming Mail module reads that message.
3. According to the rules you set, it creates a new ticket or discussion
4. You can now see this item in activeCollab and post further comments on it
5. New comments are sent via email notifications to the original poster
6. They may now reply to these notifications using email.
7. Their reply email lands up in the email account you setup
8. Incoming Mail picks up this reply and appends to the original ticket / discussion as a comment
9. The cycle continue as long as you wish and for as many items as you wish

Now that we have understood how it works, let’s see it in action.

I am logged into activeCollab as an administrator. I have installed the Incoming Mail module.

Clicking on it’s icon tells me that system is not yet configured to receive emails. It shows my email address there, but I don’t want to use that for activeCollab.

Let’s go back to “Mailing” settings and define an email address and name using which activeCollab will send out email notifications.

Now come back to Incoming Mail and define an incoming mailbox.

You may need to create a new email account using your server’s control panel. Once you have done that, enter that email address, name of this account and mail server connection information. Test the Connection to ensure it works.

Every unknown message in this mailbox should create a new ticket in a project we have created for incoming mails. We also want to accept mails only from our activeCollab users. You can set this up as per your needs. Click Submit to save.

We now have one mailbox created. We can use the icons on right to list messages in this mailbox. Let’s check what it has.

As expected, there are no messages yet in this mailbox.

Let’s send a new message.

Let us now refresh this page and see what we have. Superb! We have our message in there.

ActiveCollab uses the “Frequently” Scheduled Task to automatically check for new mails. Make sure your Scheduled Tasks are working properly. Let’s run it manually for our demo.

This should import our email as a new ticket. Ok, task run. And yes, it’s created a new ticket from our email. Let’s see the details.

Amazing! Everything looks perfect!

Now let’s send another email. This time we will send it from a different email account.

Run the frequently task once again. Come back to Incoming Mail.

Surely, we have the new email imported as well.

Click to see the details. You can see that both Albert (sender of the message) and Nirav (Project Leader) are subscribed to this new ticket.

Let me post a new comment.

That comment will come as email notification to Albert. Here it is.

Albert can reply to this notification using his email client. Just the way he would respond to any other email.

When the frequently tasks are run next, his comment will be added to the ticket. Superb, isn’t it!

I am happy with the work now, so I can go ahead and complete this ticket. Of course, Albert will be notified of this as well.

So it worked, and it worked really well!

Getting the Incoming Mail to work is straight forward. If you ensure the requirements are met, you can set everything in just a few minutes – like how we did.

And then you can configure it the way you like.

You can setup multiple incoming email accounts. You can setup project specific accounts so that all messages coming to that are created as new ticket / discussion in a specific project. Or you can use it as a help-desk system.

You can also create different Automated Actions for different mailboxes.

BTW, Subscribe users to your tickets / discussions for them to get notified of updates. This will even let them reply to your comment right from their favorite email client. You can click on “Manage / Add” to manage users who are subscribed to this ticket / discussion.

activeCollab does its best to process incoming mails. But there may be conflicts. E.g. when mails bounce or an unknown sender emails your project email address. Such conflicts need to be resolved manually and when they happen, you will see an alert with the number of conflicts in the top bar.

Hey, we saw a lot in this video. Incoming Mail has helped us greatly. Our clients can now communicate using their familiar email client. Even the quality of communication has improved after we started using this. We are very happy with Incoming Mail and recommend it to you too.

Finally, Thank you for watching this video. Visit us at for more.