Sunday, February 13, 2011

Getting started with email

Getting started with emailHow to create an email account and start sending messages to your friends and family. Email is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways for people to communicate with one another. An email message can be something as simple as "Hello," can detail plans for an upcoming event, or can even contain pictures of a recent vacation that you would like to share with the recipient. Unlike traditional mail, for which you have to wait several days for someone to receive it, email is for the most part instant, so you can press Send on a message and have it instantly read by someone across the street or across the world. If you've never had an email address before, setting one up is easy to do.

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Getting started with email

Visit the site where you would like to set up your email account. Popular places to set up free email include Gmail,Yahoo, and Hotmail. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to explain how to set up an account on Gmail, but the same general rules apply to any site you decide you want to set up an account on. Once you get to the homepage of your choice, find the link on the page marked "Create a new account." This will almost always be located right beside where someone who is already a user would type in their username and password. For Gmail, it is a huge gray button located below the login window. This will launch a page with space for you to fill in information such as your name and birthday, as well as select the username and password for your account. 

Your username is what your email address is going to be, so you want to pick something that will be easy to tell friends and family and simple for them to remember. For instance, if your name is Walter Morris, then you might try picking WalterMorris as your username. Assuming the name was available, that would make your email address WalterMorris at Most email sites have been around for a while, so chances are someone has already taken the username that you're interested in. Experiment by adding numbers or additional words until you find one available. For instance, if Walter were a fisherman, he might consider WalterMorrisFisherman as his username. Get creative. In the case of Gmail, there is a Check Availability button below where you select a username. Clicking the button will let you know if your desired name is available, and if not, offer suggestions for similar names. 

For your password, you want to select something that is easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. A combo of numbers and letters in a password is also typically much safer than using just words. Walter the Fisherman may try a combo of the name of his favorite boat in conjunction with his house number: Delila2370. Check our tips for making strong passwords if you're having trouble.

Once you're done answering all the sign-up questions and reading the terms and conditions for the site you are using, press the button at the bottom of the screen to create your account. In the case of Gmail, this says: "I accept. Create my Account." This should take you to your new email account, ready to use.


Every new email account typically comes with at least one new email from your email provider welcoming you to the site and giving you a few pointers on how to get started using their service. The first time you open your email, you'll probably see that you have one of these messages. Click on that email in order to open the message and read it. Any new messages you receive from friends will also be in the same place you saw that first message and will be opened the same way. Once you're done reading, go back to your inbox by clicking the word Inbox on the side of the screen. If it's a message you never want to read again, you can click the Delete button on the bottom of the screen to remove it from your mailbox.

Getting started with emailSending messages
Now that you have a shiny new email address, it's time to start sending messages to your friends. In Gmail, you can create a new message by clicking the gray button on the left side of the screen marked "Compose mail." This will launch a page with several boxes to fill in where you can start writing your message. So what are you supposed to put in all these boxes?

The To field is where you will type the email address of the person you would like to send a message to.

CC stands for Carbon Copy, and BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. CC is where you would type the email address of someone you wanted to send a copy of the message to, and BCC is where you would type the email address of someone you would like to send a copy of the message to, but without anyone else who was receiving the email knowing.

The subject of your email is a sentence about what your message is all about. For instance, if Walter was emailing pictures of the fish he caught on his last fishing trip to a friend, he might type "Pictures from the fishing trip last week" in the subject line.

Getting started with emailAttach File
The link below the subject line is what you will click if you want to send a picture or other file off your computer along with the email. To attach a file to your email, click the link and then select the file you would like to attach from the window that appears. You select a file by clicking it once, and then clicking the Open button on the bottom of that pop-up window.

The large window below the subject line is where you would type the message you would like to send.

At the bottom of the message window is a button labeled Send. When you've finished writing your message, pressing this button will send it to your recipient(s). In Gmail, the send button is also at the top of the screen.

You're now ready to start passing out your email address to friends and family and to start sending and receiving messages. Just like you do with your home address, don't give your email address out to people or businesses who you don't want to send you messages. Be super cautious about emails you do receive, and in general, never send money or give out passwords to people who contact you via email, even if they claim to be from your bank or a businesses that you use frequently — more than likely, they're not.

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