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There are several movie files throughout "Senior's Guide to Computers" demonstrating many techniques. For a complete list of all of them including links to each one, please visit the VIDEOS page.


What is Email?

Email is an electronic message sent from one computer to another. You can send or receive messages with attachments, such as photos, music, video and other documents. Email passes from one computer, known as a mail server, to another as it travels over the Internet. Once it arrives at the destination mail server, it's stored in an electronic mailbox until the recipient retrieves it. This whole process is extremely fast and lets you quickly communicate with people around the world at any time.

To receive email, you need an account on a mail server. You can retrieve your email from anywhere in the world, as long as you have access to the Internet. Your incoming email is sent from a Post Office Protocol (POP) server. The current standard for receiving email is POP3.

To send email, you need access to a mail server that forwards your mail. The standard protocol used for sending Internet email is called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). When you send an email, your computer sends it to an SMTP server. The server looks at the email address and then forwards it to the recipient's mail server, where it is stored until the addressee retrieves it. You can send email anywhere in the world to anyone who has an email address. All Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer at least one email address with every account.

In addition to email messages, you can also attach documents, photos, audio, video and other software files -- as long as the person receiving the attachment has the software to open the file. Email attachments are made possible through the use of the Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) and other types of encoding.

What you need to know about
all of the above techno-babble

POP or POP3 = Incoming mail
SMTP = Outgoing mail

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Email Software

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook Stand alone version.
Rating: 2 stars
Price (Nov. 2013): $109.99 - stand alone version (Windows 7 or 8 only)

Microsoft Outlook's user interface has a dual-pane format. The bottom section of the left-hand pane has four tabs, one each for Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks. When you click on a tab, the top portion of the left pane displays features of that function. The right-hand pane also changes depending on the function you choose.

You can view your calendar by week or month. You can enter notes about a calendar entry, set a reminder, and link it to a contact. You can also set up a daily or weekly schedule, so you can see your busy, free, out of office, or currently unscheduled time at a glance.

The Contacts feature offers various fields for information, such as name, address, telephone, fax, email address, company, and category.

The Tasks feature lets you make a to-do list. You can use the left-hand pane to view or sort.

Caution: Since Outlook uses Internet Explorer to render web-style email it is vulnerable to the same security weaknesses.

Setting Up Microsoft Outlook

Adding a new email account

  • Open Outlook.
  • Click on "Tools"
  • Click on "Email Accounts" (See Figure E-1)

    Figure E-1
  • Click on "Add a new email account"
  • Select "Next" (See Figure E-2)

    Figure E-2
  • Select "POP3"
  • Select "Next" (See Figure E-3)

    Figure E-3
  • Enter your information: (See Figure E-4)
    (Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should provide this information)
    • Your Name
    • Email Address
    • Incoming mail server (example:
    • Outgoing mail server (example:
    • Username (usually same as email address)
    • Password
    • Check Remember Password (optional but recommended)

    Figure E-4
  • Select "Next" then "Next" again
  • Select "Finish" (See Figure E-5)

    Figure E-5

Set Outlook to automatically send/receive messages

  • Click on "Tools"
  • Click on "Options"
  • Select "Mail Setup"
  • Select "Send immediately when connected"
  • Click on "Send/Receive"
  • Select "Include this group in send/receive (F9)"
  • Select "Schedule an automatic send/receive every XXX minutes"
  • Select "Perform an automatic send/receive when exiting"
  • Click on "Close"
  • Click on "OK"

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Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird
Rating: 5 stars
Price (Nov. 2013

Mozilla Thunderbird features email authentication with spam filtering and a built-in phishing detector to help protect against email scams. It scans any incoming mail for what it thinks is junk and immediately moves it to a junk folder for review, removing it from your inbox (if you trust it, I think you can have Thunderbird just delete it). It works extremely well. If it puts anything in the junk folder that it shouldn't, you just identify the message as "Not Junk" and it won't do it again. Other features include autosaving of messages in progress as drafts, automatic spelling checking as the user types a message, and automatic updating of the software.

Thunderbird also has support for podcasts and RSS feeds. The program can detect whether a podcast is an audio or video file and will run it in the correct player on a user's computer.

Mozilla Thunderbird does not use Internet Explorer to render email and does not support the dangerous ActiveX controls so it is not vulnerable to the same security weaknesses as Microsoft Outlook.

Setting Up Mozilla Thunderbird

The first time you start Thunderbird, you are presented with an interface to create an account (See Figure E-6).

Figure E-6
  • Select the Email Account option, then click "Next" to proceed.

  • Figure E-7

  • The first screen asks you for your name and email address (See Figure E-7). The name you enter will be seen by others when you send them email. Fill in both and click "Next" to proceed.

  • Figure E-8

  • The next screen presents you with two choices (See Figure E-8). The email account can either be a (POP) Post Office Protocol account or an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) account. The majority of home email accounts are POP accounts. POP3 is another variation of POP. Contact your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to find out which one you should use. Select Global Inbox and if you have more than one email account, all of your POP accounts will direct all of their email into a single Inbox, as opposed to each account having its own Inbox. Enter the incoming and outgoing server names supplied by your ISP and click "Next".

  • Figure E-9

  • The next screen asks for your incoming and outgoing user names (See Figure E-9). These are supplied by your ISP. This user name is sent along with your password to log in to the server. The user name for the outgoing server is typically the same as the incoming one. Click "Next" to proceed.

  • Figure E-10

  • You are asked to enter a name for the account (See Figure E-10). This name will be displayed and used by Thunderbird to refer to email coming from this account. Pick something that will make it easy to identify the account. Click "Next" to proceed.

  • Figure E-11

  • The final screen shows all of the information you have entered (See Figure E-11). Check it for errors. You can also select to immediately check the account for mail. At the end, click "Finish" and you will be returned to the Account Settings screen.

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Microsoft Outlook Express

Microsoft Outlook Express
Rating: 1 stars
This program is extremely vulnerable to viruses and spyware and is no longer supported by Microsoft.

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