Email on the Web


What is email? Email or electronic mail is a way to correspond, over the Internet, with friends, family and business associates around the world.

What are the parts of an email address? The first part of the address is the username. This can be someone's real name or a nickname. The second part follows the @ (pronounced at) and indicates the name of the computer (also called a mail server) where the email is stored. (ex., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Generally both parts are required for the email to get to the right location. Depending on the service, you may need only the username if you are sending mail to another person on the same mail server. For instance if you both have your email

How private is email? Email is about as private as a postcard. It might be read on the way to or from you computer. You can use encryption like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) to protect it but it's easier not to send anything you wouldn't want someone else, like your boss, spouse, or kids, to see.  How PGP works article from Lifehacker

What is netiquette? Netiquette is etiquette on the Internet. It has a few conventions, just like etiquette, generally designed to help people get along. For example

  • Remember there are real people on the other end. Treat others as you would be treated.
  • Be ethical and lawful.
  • Don't SPAM!!! It wastes people's time & computer resources. (SPAM is flooding a persons email or screen with messages they don't want or need.
  • Compress pictures before sending. Use .jpg or .gif formats.
  • Credit people when you use information you got from them.
  • Only flame (tell off in a discussion group) the deserving and don't get carried away.
  • Don't read other people's email messages.
  • From the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea

How do I get email?

  • Sign up for Internet access from an ISP (Internet Service Provider),
  • Get an address at work or school, or
  • Sign up for Web based email.

What is Web based email? Web based email is email that is accessed over the WWW (World Wide Web) from any computer that can connect to the Web, like the public access computers at the West Lafayette Public Library or one at your friend's house.

Why would I want Web based email?

  • If you don't have access to the Internet at home or at work.
  • If you have an Internet account for access from your home or work computer you probably have an email address, but you may want additional address for other people in the household.
  • Note: Even if you have access at work, you may not want to nor be allowed to use that account for personal use.

Where can I go to get Web based email?   gmail,  Yahoo, or Hotmail among other providers.

Is it really free? How can they do that?
It is free to you. They do it by gathering demographic information about their users and using that information to sell advertising.

How safe is it to give them personal information about myself?
They do not give out personal information (name, address, etc.) about you and the information should be secure.

What are some safety tips?

  • Change your password often and do not give it to others (Your IPS and email host will not call or email you and ask you for it).
  • Be skeptical. Don't give out personal information, like your physical address or credit card number, to strangers you meet on the Web, even if they claim to be in authority.
  • Don't fall for "phish" attachs.fish2
  • Do not send your credit card information in email.
  • Do not open attachments from unknown people. They could contain viruses or letterbombs.
  • Excerpted from Hotmail's Email Safety
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. You can even get anti-virus software for free, see the PC World review of free anti-virus  and Top 10 paid Internet Security Suites at PC World

Now that I have email what do I do?
Checking your email or getting a message.

  1. Log on to the mail server.
  2. Go to the Inbox.
  3. Click on the message you want to read.

What do the Reply, Reply All and Forward buttons mean?

  • Reply will open a mail composition window with the address already inserted from the email to which you are replying.
  • Reply All will open a mail composition window with the addresses of all the people from the email to which you are replying.
  • Forward will open a mail composition window without an address and will attach the entire email so you can send it to another person.

Sending a message.

  • To reply to a message click the reply button.
  • To start a new message go to Compose or the Address Book.
    • In Compose, enter the recipient's email address in the To: box.
      • Scroll or tab to the Subject Heading and enter the subject. A subject is not completely necessary but it allows the recipient to quickly choose which message to read.
      • Scroll & click or tab to the body of the text. If you don't want to compose your message online, you can write it in a wordprocessor and copy and paste it in here. You could also attach the wordprocessing file and send it that way.
      • Use the spell checker, if desired. Click on the send button when you're ready to send the message.
      • It never hurts to review the message before you send it. Does it really say what you intended? Is it addressed to the correct person? You cannot retract the send button!
    • In Address Book click on the recipient's email address or check the To: box by their name.
      • This will open a composition window with the recipient's address already in the To: box.
      • Then follow the steps outlined above.

What is the address book?

The address book is a means of storing email address and other personal information online. It is helpful to add your regular correspondents so you don't mistype addresses.

What are CC: and BCC:?

  • CC=carbon copy and BCC=blind carbon copy.
  • They are used to add additional addresses to send a message to more than one person.
  • Using CC will show all the address to all the recipients.
  • Using BCC will only show the address of the primary recipient to all recipients. A great way to protect your friends and family from spammers is to use BCC for forwarding items to groups of people.

What is an attachment?

  • First, a word of caution. Do not open attachments, from unknown people or even from someone you know, if you are not expecting one, they can cause problems or contain viruses.
  • An attachment is a file that is sent along with an email message. It may be a text file, picture file, program file, or other type of file. If the file is of a type that your browser can read you will be able to see it right away.
  • To open one you save it to your computer and then open it in the appropriate way. For example a text file would be opened in your wordprocessor. A picture file in paint (for .bmp files) or in your browser (for .jpg or .gif files).
  • Tip If you want to send picture files be sure to compress them so they don't take so long to send. Use .jpg or .gif and the browser can show them. Don't use a file type that your recipients may not be able to see. Most scanners can save the files in different ways. is a good online service for resizing photos.

How do I add an attachment?

  • Click on the Browse button by the Attach/Delete.
  • Select the file you wish to send.
  • Then click on Attach.
  • Send the email as usual.

Good Luck & Happy Emailing!
Copyright © 2012 Nancy Hartman and the West Lafayette Public Library