In our first Article, we discussed the Desktop, and getting online.
Now we shall move on to Emails. I looked at what email is earlier, and now we look at the practicalities of using it!
Who @ Where Dot Com?
Firstly, you need to a choose an Email Provider. many people choose to use the email service included with their Internet Access (such as by BT, Sky, Virgin, etc), but I would advise against that as a main Email address, as if you choose to switch Internet Provider, you will have to change your email address, and inform all of your contacts (friends, work colleagues, banks, Utility Companies etc) of your new address. Have a look at which Third-Party Email Suppliers are available.
Note: You may have as many email addresses as you like!
Some of the more popular Suppliers are:
Each of these has their own Sign-Up procedure, but they are very similar. Click the “Sign Up” button, fill in the forms, and choose your email name.
Here is where we run into the first hurdle!
A lot of people would like their own name as their email address, e.g. email@example.com. Now, there are a lot of John Smiths in the world, and each email must be unique! This means you may have to take firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. But! These are probably gone, too!
The provider will suggest some available addresses, based upon the details you have given them, or you can keep trying to guess an un-taken one. Maybe use a nickname, or a reference to your hobby.
Example email addresses:
- (Homer Simpson – The Simpsons)
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Benedict Cumberbatch)
Email addresses are not Case Sensitive. “JohnSmith@gmail.com” is the same as “johnsmith@Gmail.com”, and the same as “JohNsMIth@gMAil.coM”.
You can use a dot in your address, to try to distinguish it.
“email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org” are different addresses.
Now that you have an address, you can move on to the next stage!
Webmail or Client?
There are two main ways to do email on a PC.
- Webmail, where you open your
web browser (e.g. Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox), and visit the Supplier’s webpage.
- Email Client Program – a separate program on your PC dedicated to
email. Popular examples are “Windows 10 Mail App”, Mozilla Thunderbird, and the outdated Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail. If you choose this option, you will also need to decide whether to use POP3 or IMAP. We don’t need to know the ins-and-outs of what these mean: I strongly recommend IMAP, as you are synchronising with the Mail Server directly, and do not have to worry about losing the mail stored on your PC.
Whichever you choose, they tend to look quite similar. A list of folders (Inbox, Trash, Sent Items, etc) on the left, and a list of emails to the right. Sometimes there will be a Preview Pane to the right, or underneath the list of emails. Across the top will be your Tools.
To write a new email, you will need to find the button marked “New Email“, or “Compose” or “Write” (or some variant of this). This will present you with a box to write your new email in.
You will notice that there are several sections to this. You can move between the sections by Clicking them, or by pressing the TAB key on the left of your keyboard.
- “To” – This is where you type the email address of the person(s) you wish to send an email to. You may add several addresses here, separated by commas.
- “Subject” – Not only is it good ‘Netiquette’ to include a Subject line, some email providers will filter emails without a Subject, thinking they are Spam, or Junk Mail. A word or two is sufficient.
- The Message Area – Here is where you write your email. While there is an upper limit for how much you can write, it is far larger than most people will want to write. (But if you attach other Files, you may quickly hit this limit – more on attachments later).
Once you have typed who to Send to, entered a Subject, and written the text of the email (including an opening line such as “Dear Sir”, or “Hi Mum”, and a close; “Yours Sincerely, PC Wizard”, “Cheers! Phil”), you are ready to press “Send”. Some programs/pages have this at the top of the email, others at the bottom.
Once you have Sent the email, it will wing its way across the Internet to the recipient’s Mail Sever, and wait there for them to collect it.
Mostly, you do not have to do anything to Receive email. It is delivered to your Mail Server. If you are using Web Mail (viewing the email Web Page in your Browser), you will see any new emails as soon as you log in. If you use a Client (Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, etc), they will check for new mail when you open them ,and automatically check again on a schedule (usually about every 10-15 minutes). There is usually a button to “Send/Receive”, which will make sure any of your emails have been sent, and check the Server for new arrivals, but this is not normally needed.
Email can only cope with Text. Some clients/pages allow you to use Formatted text (i.e. using Bold, Italics and Colours).
If you wish to send anything else (e.g. Photographs, Word Documents, Spreadsheets, etc), you must use a Feature called “Attachments”. This is often represented by a Paperclip, and adds the File to the Email as an “extra”.
To use this, click the Paperclip icon (or “Attachment” button), and you will be presented with a mini-File-Explorer, to find your File. Navigate to the Folder that it is on, select it and click “Attach” (sometimes “Open”). You should now see a line in the email informing you of the attachment.
There is a limit to how much you can attach to each email, but this changes by Provider. A good rule of thumb is to only include 3-4 Attached Files. If you wish to send more than this, you can either send multiple emails, or use a Cloud-Sharing Service such as Dropbox, Google Drive or One Drive.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
If all this seems a little daunting, the best way to become more confident is to practice sending emails. It will soon become familiar!
Feel free to send me some emails, with or without attachments!
My email address is:
I look forward to hearing from you!