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E-Mail Programs, etc.

Last modified 1/22/07

One of the things the World Wide Web is great for is sending messages to one another. These messages can come in many forms. Web pages contain messages of course but the communication is primarily from the web server to the user. If the user wants to send a message back to a webmaster, they usually use e-mail.

Check out Email-Report.com for the scoop on various emails used by individuals.

E-mail is great for sending messages of all kinds to anybody with an e-mail account, which is virtually everybody who can be connected to the Internet. In order to get connected to the Internet, you need an ISP or Internet Service Provider. Your Internet connection could be provided by your work or school, but most people are connected via ISPs.

You can pay for an e-mail program or you can get one free. There are advantages to both and you might want at least one of each. Below are lists of many to choose from and their features.

E-mail programs can also have other features such as address books and even calendars. You can communicate with many people, all at the same time, with Chat Rooms, or Newsgroups . There's even Instant Messaging which is similar to e-mail, only the receiver of the message, if they're online, sees the message appear instantly on their screen.

Table of Contents

E-Mail Programs & Features

Some features that you might look for in choosing an E-Mail program are:

  • Address Book - Most e-mail programs have an address book where you can store names and e-mail addresses of people you send -mail to often.
  • Auto-responder - this feature allows you to send an automatic reply to people who send you e-mail. This is useful when you are on vacation or you have a mailbox set up just to send information back to the sender.
  • Attachments - most programs allow you to send and receive files that you attach to your e-mail such as images, sounds or programs. large attachments can fill up your mail box in a hurry and can take a long time to download. They can also contain software that can damage your computer called viruses. So be careful about using attachments. Don't ever open an attachment from someone you don't know. It might even be a good idea to call them and ask what the attachment is before opening it.
  • Clickable URL and e-mail addresses - some programs allow you to click or double-click on URLs in messages, which opens the URL in your browser, or click on e-mail addresses contained in messages, to open up a new e-mail window.
  • Consolidation - some e-mail programs allow you to handle mail from several e-mail accounts in one convenient place.
  • Custom signatures - most programs let you have one or more standard signatures that get automatically attached to the end of your e-mails
  • Discussion list threading - a few programs allow you to manage discussion lists
  • Draft Box - a place to store e-mail that is still in progress or not yet ready to send.
  • Filters - this feature allows you to block e-mail from people you don't want to hear from including unsolicited advertisements called SPAM. You can also have mail automatically filed into folders.
  • Folders - some programs allow you to store your e-mail in convenient folders that you set up to file your e-mail in (i.e., personal, work, mom, humor, etc.)
  • Forwarding - All programs let you forward email to someone else. Some will automatically send email with a particular subject, on to another email address.
  • Free trial offer - sometimes you can try out the software for a limited time before having to purchase it.
  • Groups - Most e-mail programs allow you to set up groups of e-mail address to send e-mail to such as a group of co-workers or friends.
  • HTML compatible - some browsers can display HTML, others only can display unformatted text. MIME HTML (MHTML) messages actually include graphics, Java applets, and other objects.
  • Languages - some programs are available in several languages
  • Multiple accounts - some programs will allow you to switch between several accounts
  • Newsgroups - some e-mail programs let you read and write to newsgroups.
  • Offline editing - most programs will let you write, store and file e-mail offline so you only need to be connected to the Internet when sending and receiving e-mail.
  • Scheduling - some programs let you designate when an e-mail will be sent. This can be used to send reminders to yourself or others about meetings, etc. Many programs allow you to set up a connection schedule which allows your computer to check for e-mail on a regular basis.
  • Spell checker - a few programs have spell checkers built into them.
  • POP3, HTTP, IMAP4 & SMTP support - protocols for sending e-mail over the Internet.

Here are some good e-mail programs to check out:

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Internet Service Providers

When you sign up with an ISP (Internet Service Provider) you automatically get at least one e-mail account. Sometimes you get several and you can almost always pay for additional ones if you need them.

The most important feature of an ISP is a local phone number. Not all services have "dial-up" numbers in all areas, so make sure any service you consider has a local number before signing up. Otherwise you'll pay for a lot of unnecessary long distance phone calls. To find an ISP in your area check out The Internet Service Provider Directory or The List or the ISP Guide.

Special Note for New Webmasters

When you sign up with a web host, they usually give you at least one free e-mail account. You now have (at least) two e-mail accounts. One with your ISP (username@your_isp.com) and the other with your web host. In your e-mail program, you will probably want to set it up so all of your mail comes to the same inbox. Some people like to handle their web host e-mail separately from their ISP mail, so they have separate e-mail readers to do this. If you get into heavy e-mail marketing, I would suggest this, otherwise, keep it simple by dealing with all your e-mail in the same place.

In some e-mail programs, there's an Accounts menu item in the Tools menu. This may appear somewhere else in your e-mail program. Choose this menu item and create a new POP mail account. Enter an account name (anything to distinguish it from your ISP mail account) and then your name and default web host e-mail address (ie, yourname@your_domain.com). Your account ID and password are your user name and password with your web host (by samuel james at testsforge). Your POP server address should be mail.your_domain.com (but check with your web host to be sure). The SMTP server may be one provided by your web host or by your ISP. Your web host will need to provide this information as well. After clicking OK, you should be able to receive all your mail from both e-mail accounts.

Usually, your web host provides you with one main POP account and the ability to add others. For each new POP account you will need to go through the procedure above. Another, possibly better, way to handle many different e-mail addresses is to just set up separate folders in your e-mail program and use mail rules to automatically file incoming messages. Normally all mail sent to a domain name goes to a default e-mail address (ie username@your_domain.com). So you can receive mail for someothername@your_domain.com or webmaster@your_domain.com or orders@your_domain.com all through your default address, and then use mail rules to send all mail to orders@your_domain.com to a "Orders" folder. Get the idea?

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Free E-Mail Programs

Why would you need more than one e-mail account? Free e-mail accounts live on a very public server, so they can be accessed from anywhere in the world. If you have an e-mail account at work or at school, it might be a good idea to get another address to have your personal e-mail sent to. That way, if you leave your job or graduate, you won't lose all your email and you'll still be able to get your mail at the free account. They can be slightly more secure than normal (especially company) e-mail accounts too. They are also, more permanent. As long as you keep your account in use (it will get deleted if not used for several months) it will be accessible even if you change ISPs.

An extra address can come in handy for posting on bulletin boards or USENET so that your primary address isn't exposed to spammers. Also you to access many e-mail accounts through a Web interface, so you can check your e-mail virtually anywhere in the world. Plus, you don't need any software except an Internet browser!

Some features that you might look for in choosing a free E-Mail program are:

  • Address Book - Most e-mail programs have an address book where you can store names and e-mail addresses of people you send -mail to often.
  • Auto-responder - this feature allows you to send an automatic reply to people who send you e-mail. This is useful when you are on vacation or you have a mailbox set up just to send information back to the sender.
  • Attachments - most programs allow you to send and receive files that you attach to your e-mail such as images, sounds or programs. large attachments can fill up your mail box in a hurry and can take a long time to download. They can also contain software that can damage your computer called viruses. So be careful about using attachments. Don't ever open an attachment from someone you don't know. It might even be a good idea to call them and ask what the attachment is before opening it.
  • Consolidation - some e-mail programs allow you to handle mail from several e-mail accounts in one convenient place.
  • Custom signatures - most programs let you have one or more standard signatures that get automatically attached to the end of your e-mails
  • Forwarding - All programs let you forward email to someone else. Some will automatically send email with a particular subject, on to another email address.
  • Folders - some programs allow you to store your e-mail in convenient folders that you set up to file your e-mail in (i.e., personal, work, mom, humor, etc.)
  • Filters - this feature allows you to block e-mail from people you don't want to hear from including unsolicited advertisements called SPAM. You can also have mail automatically filed into folders.
  • Spell checker - a few programs have spell checkers built into them.

Here are some resources on free E-Mail programs to check out.

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