This documentation is for Dovecot v1.x, see wiki2 for v2.x documentation.


MTA is an acronym for Mail Transport Agent. It is the software that works behind the scenes to transport E-Mail messages from one computer to another. MUAs (such as mutt, thunderbird, sylpheed, evolution, kmail) hand off newly sent messages to an MTA. MTAs talk to other MTAs, and either deliver mail locally or hand it off for delivery to an MDA/LDA if it was destined to the local system.

MTA is a generic term and usually refers to one of these popular software packages:

Some people also subsume mail fetching utilities under the MTA category, among them:

These mail fetching utilities can be used to store mail for later retrieval by dovecot.

Contrast this to the message delivery agent (MDA), sometimes called local delivery agent (LDA).