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Following on from last months piece on the internet I would now like to touch on another internet phenomena E-mail (or email or electronic mail). This idea is simply a letter in computer form. With email you can exchange messages all around the world quickly and economically. The email can also contain things other than just words such as pictures, sound and video. To use email you must first have an email account. Most common email accounts are offered free by email service providers. Some examples are by Hotmail or Yahoo. Others are free also but you may have to be a customer e.g. Eircom, Vodafone, O2.

In most cases you would go to their website and find an email or register link, then fill out the online form providing various bits of personal information and details. The amount of information required depends on the provider. You will have to choose the username which turns out to be the first part of your email address. Most people use their first name or a combination of first and lastnames e.g. joe in [email protected] An email address must be unique so if your choice is not available you can try adding/removing your last name, or even adding a number at the end e.g. joe4 . Your email address will also have a domain attached to it e.g., @ etc. The ending depends on your email service provider.

Normally the account will be active immediately meaning that you can start using it. There are two main methods of accessing email – via your internet browser or by using an email program like Outlook Express or perhaps Thunderbird. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods but via the internet browser (webmail ) is the most popular. When using with an Internet Browser the main plus is that you can access your email from any computer, and that the emails on stored on the email server.
Once again go the internet site that you setup the account with and look for the email link. Enter your username, usually your email address. You may have to enter the domain part also. Next enter your password. This should log you in.
Your email is sorted into some main folders for incoming mail (inbox), outgoing (sent), and deleted items. Optional ones may also be Drafts (temporary) and Junk (rubbish or spam). You will also have a place to store other peoples email addresses and their names. These are in your Address Book or Contacts section.
The simplest way to learn is to create a new message and just send it to yourself : In the To field put your own email address and fill in a subject and some text in the main part of the message also known as the body. Click on send.
If successful your new mail will be sent and delivered into your inbox and appear slightly different, perhaps bolded or strong font. Single clicking on the mail should open it.
Spending some time filling in your most used contacts in the address book will save you some time alter and having to remember all those email address.
If you want to send a picture with the email then create a new message as normal. Then look for the attachment option. This opens a dialog window prompting you to locate the file on your computer. Once located you are returned to the email and finally click on send. The picture will be uploaded to your email so this may take a few seconds or minutes. Attachments can be any type such as pictures, video clips, sound, word or excel files.
With email you can send the same message to many people at once by selecting them in the TO field. Answer a message by selecting an email and clicking reply. Pass on a message by clicking forward.

SPAM MAIL is basically just junk mail. At present they account for the majority of emails in circulation. If you find that you are getting a lot of spam then consider changing your provider as some are more successful at preventing them reaching your inbox.

Some people attempt to spread computer viruses by email. If so the virus will be in the attachment and not the email itself. However please treat all emails that are from unrecognisable names or addresses with caution. Do not click on any internet links in emails you are unsure of and never blindly open attachments.
The easiest way to learn how to use email is by practice so start sending today and see how far you can send your first electronic mail.

Drop me an email for more information on broadband, the internet or any of these subjects. I’ll be happy to advise and help you in any way I can. For fast and friendly help and advice please email or call me. Next month : Digital Photos