introduction to e-mail.
Allow me to introduce you to E-Mail.
Where would we be without it? Billions of E-Mails are sent every day. Business, personal, advertising, and of course spam.
In this guide, we're having a look at how it all works, because like it or not, you will need to use E-Mail at some point.
It all starts with your E-Mail account. When you first set up an account with a company, you'll get an E-Mail address.
@yahoo.com is the name of the company that's handling your E-Mail.
In our example, it's Yahoo.
So if we were to send Joe Blogs an E-Mail message, that message would travel around the Internet until it arrived at Yahoo's E-Mail server.
Inside the server, the message would then be put into Joe Blogs' account inbox.
e-mail works like real mail.
Think of it like an apartment block that houses hundreds of apartments. We'll call it Glass Towers.
If we sent a letter to Joe, it would travel through the postal service and eventually land at Glass Towers.
Once the letter gets here, it'll be sorted into the mailboxes for the various apartments.
Our letter to Joe would be dropped into his mailbox.
To which only he has the key.
The key to your E-Mail account is your password.
You do know your password, right? If you're not sure, then find out now.
If you get locked out of other online accounts, Facebook, Amazon, eBay etc, they'll E-Mail you a way to get back in, a way to recover your account.
But if you can't get into your E-Mails......
"One account to rule them all".
And while we're on the subject of passwords, you might like this Why You Should Use Strong Passwords.
E-Mail addresses are typed as one continuous word.
There are no spaces at all.
Each number, letter, or symbol of the address simply follows on from the previous one.
This is why you'll often see dots, underscores or hyphens used to separate words to make them easier to read, and therefore, easier to remember.
Capitals letters in E-Mail addresses don't matter.
The convention is to type E-Mail addresses entirely in lower case. No CAPITALS.
But it really doesn't matter. If you do throw in a capital letter, no worries, it'll still work fine.
Addresses aren't case sensitive.
Addresses DO, however, need to be accurate. 100% spot on.
The computer won't guess what you mean.
Every letter, number, and symbol has to be there and in the correct place.
Close enough is not nearly good enough when it comes to E-Mail addresses, they have to be perfect.
If at all possible, it's better to Copy & Paste an address into the address line.
We covered Copy & Paste for text in an earlier guide.
If you'd like to review it click How to Copy & Paste Text.
how to access your e-mail.
There are two main ways of accessing E-Mail. Of actually sending and receiving your messages.
The first is called WebMail and the second is by using a Mail Client.
WebMail is the most popular method, but they both have advantages and disadvantages. Not huge, not major, but a consideration all the same.
But first, we'll need to know what exactly do we mean by the terms WebMail and Mail Client.
WebMail is where you use your browser to log in to your E-Mail account.
So you go onto the Internet, then go to your E-Mail account, type in your password, and then you can see your messages.
So in effect, you're accessing your Mail over the Web.
A Mail Client is simply a program, that's installed on your computer.
Its job or function is to get your E-Mails for you.
So instead of you going on the net, you simply start your Mail Client, and that then goes onto the Internet, logs into your account and downloads your messages onto your computer.
Although the two images above look different, the E-Mails are exactly the same. We're logging into the same account and seeing the same messages.
It doesn't matter whether you're using WebMail or a Mail Client, the messages are exactly the same.
It's the same account, the same E-Mail address, and it all works the same.
The only difference is the way in which you get to your messages.
webmail & e-mail client compared.
Below is a quick comparison of some of the main features and differences between using WebMail and an E-Mail Client to access your messages.
|Need To Install Extra Programs||No. Your Web Browser Is All You Need, And You've Got That Already.||Yes, Probably. Windows Has A Built In E-Mail Client, But It's Pretty Basic. You'll Most Likely Want A Full Featured Program.|
|Easy To Setup?||Very Easy. All You Nedd Is Your E-Mail Address And Password.||Ususally Yes. Most Times It'll Just Work. But Every Tech Has Had "Issues" Setting Up E-Mail Clients.|
|Adverts.||Oh Yes. I've Never Heard Anyone Complain About The Lack Of Adverts When Using Web Mail.||No. Your Mail Client Only Downloads Your E-Mails. So You Won't See The Ads.|
|Easy To Use.||Broadly Yes. Although Accounts Provided By Different Companies Do Vary. So A Gmail Account Will Look Different To A Yahoo Account.||Yes. Once Setup, Mail Clients Are Just As Easy To Use As Web Mail.|
|Multiple E-Mail Accounts.||Switching Between Accounts Is A Right Pain In The .... erm, Server. Logging Out Of This Account And Then Into That Account Is Tedious.||Easy. E-Mail Clients Can Handle All Your Mail Accounts At The Same Time.|
If you do have multiple email accounts and prefer to access them from the web, rather than installing and setting up an email client, you could have all your emails forwarded to just one account. How to Forward Emails to Another Email Account
It's a lot easier than constantly logging in and out between accounts.
differences between free & ISP e-mail Accounts.
There are two main types of E-Mail account that we, the general public, are likely to be using for personal E-Mails.
A free account such as accounts ending @Yahoo, @Gmail, @Outlook etc.
And an account that's provided by our Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as @BTintenet, @Virginmedia, @TalkTalk etc.
The two types have one major advantage and one major disadvantage over each other.
So let's look at the Pros and Cons.
ISP E-Mail accounts have the huge advantage that, if you forget your password, you can phone them.
Your paying your ISP for a service, and part of that service is usually an E-Mail account.
So if you can't use it, because you've forgotten your password, you can call them.
Yes, you'll have to press 1 for this and 2 for that and wait forever, but eventually, someone will say "Hello, how may I help".
With free accounts, no.
Free accounts usually don't provide any sort of human help at all.
They do have automated systems for recovering an account, but they can often fail to get you back in.
And oh the frustration, the sheer frustration, at trying to convince a machine that the E-Mail account is yours....
"With a free account, no one can hear you scream".
With an ISP account, it's totally dependant on you continuing to pay them.
If you choose to change ISP to get a better deal, then your old ISP could close your E-Mail account down at any time.
In other words, it'll just stop working.
And if you call them, you'll suddenly get no help at all.
You're not paying them anymore, so guess what, they're not interested.
Free accounts, on the other hand, are totally independent of your ISP.
All you need is an Internet connection of some sort. It doesn't really matter who or where you get that connection.
So long as you can get on the net, you can get your E-Mails.
So as you move from ISP to ISP looking for bigger and better deals, your E-Mail address can follow along with you.
It's a huge benefit being able to keep the same E-Mail address, regardless of which ISP your using.
Think of all the people that have your current E-Mail address.
Apart from friends and family, there's Medical practitioners, hospitals, dentists, government and council offices, banks and financial institutions, commercial outlets, and social websites to name just a few.
It's like keeping the same phone number when you change phone companies.
Whatever you do, don't lose your E-Mail Password. Write it down in several places.
If you change it, then change your notes too. Getting locked out of an E-Mail account isn't any fun at all.
Next up, Anti Virus Software.