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Email Lesson 1

What is Email?

Email Basics does not teach specific email client software. Rather, it provides a general overview of email functionality.

By the end of this lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Understand the concept of email
  • Understand the parts of an email address
  • Understand the concept of an email client program

What is Email?

Most people use the Internet primarily to email and surf the World Wide Web.

Simply put, email, or "electronic mail," is the process of sending and receiving messages over the Internet. While email is similar to a traditional mail system, or "snail mail," as it's sometimes referred to, it's also very different. A piece of text delivered over the Internet

Who is it from?
John Doe

Who is it for? Recipient:
Jane Doe

After reading your email, you can save it, forward it to others, or delete it. If you want paper copies, you can print your email messages.

Anatomy of an Email Address

An email address is required to send and receive email. Email addresses are different from "snail mail" addresses. They usually consist of three parts: a user name, an "at" symbol (@), and a domain name. jdoe@gcflearnfree.org

  1. 1. User name: jdoe Located to the left of the @ symbol, a user name identifies your account on the email server that handles the email. For example, John Doe might choose "jdoe" as his username. However, someone may have already chosen jdoe, so have some other choices ready. Choose a user name that sounds professional and is easy to remember.
  2.  @ Means "at" and separates your account name and the name of the mail server name. For example, jdoe "is located at" gcflearnfree.org.
  3. Domain Name: gcflearnfree.org The domain name usually consists of two pieces of identifying information. The first piece is the name of the email server and is located to the right of the @ symbol. For example, gcflearnfree is the name of the email server. The second piece, usually a three-letter extension, indicates the top-level domain. They are separated by periods, called "dots." Consider choosing a user name that protects your identity instead of your first and/or last name.

Where is it delivered?

Email client software's INBOX:
Text editor used to compose, send, receive and manage email

Delivery Time?
Varies, usually 2 days to a few minutes unless technical problems

Top Level Domains
Top-level domains may help you figure out the type of organization the recipient is associated with. See the chart below.

If there is a two-letter extension, it is usually a country code. For example, Malaysia uses "my."

Because not everyone uses top-level domains correctly, they are not always a reliable way to determine an organization's association.

Email Clients
To send and receive email, both the sender and recipient must have the right tools: an Internet connection, an email client, and an email address.

An email client (sometimes referred to as a composer) is software that runs on a personal computer, and relies on an Internet connection to perform some of its operations.

Email clients work with any ISP (Internet Service Provider) that uses standard Internet email protocols. These protocols make it possible for people using different email client software to communicate with one another.


Extension Meaning Examples

  • .com A company or business www.microsoft.com,
  • www.yahoo.com
  • .org A non-profit or not-for-profit
  • institution
  • www.GCFLearnFree.org,
  • www.goodwillenc.org
  • .gov US Governmental agency www.epa.gov,
  • www.whitehouse.gov
  • .mil US Military www.army.mil, navy.mil
  • .edu US Educational institution www.ncsu.edu,
  • www.duke.edu,
  • .net ISP or Network Provider www.earthlink.net

To set up your email client correctly, you need:

  • POP3 (Post Office Protocol, version 3) server address
  • SMTP (Standard Mail Transfer Protocol) server address
  • Your Internet service provider gives you this information.

Free web mail accounts, such as Hotmail or Yahoo, rely on an Internet connection and use an email client that appears in a web page. Additional email client software is not required.

Email Clients are Different
Most email client software allows you to:

  • Display a list of received messages. Each message header shows you who sent the mail, the subject line, the time and date it was sent, and at times, the size of the message. l Select the message header and read the message.
  • Create new messages.
  • Reply to, forward, and delete messages.
  • "Attach" files (called attachments) to messages you send.
  • Save the attachments you receive.

Some email clients offer:

  • Address book/Contacts: Use the electronic address book to track personal information such as name, title, email addresses, home and work addresses, phone numbers, and much more.
  • Newsgroup functionality: You can use your email client to access Usenet, an online public bulletin board system (BBS). Usenet features a broad range of discussion topics called newsgroups.
  • Calendaring: Schedule important dates, appointments, tasks, and electronic reminders.