EMAIL BY floredest

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About Course

What is e-mail

Email (electronic mail) is a way to send and receive messages across the Internet. It’s similar to traditional mail, but it also has some key differences. To get a better idea of what email is all about, take a look at the infographic below and consider how you might benefit from its use.

Infographic showing traditional mail versus email

Email advantages

  • Productivity tools: Email is usually packaged with a calendar, address book, instant messaging, and more for convenience and productivity.
  • Access to web services:If you want to sign up for an account like Facebook or order products from services like Amazon, you will need an email address so you can be safely identified and contacted.
  • Easy mail management:Email service providers have tools that allow you to file, label, prioritize, find, group, and filter your emails for easy management. You can even easily control spam, or junk email.
  • Privacy:Your email is delivered to your own personal and private account with a password required to access and view emails.
  • Communication with multiple people:You can send an email to multiple people at once, giving you the option to include as few as or as many people as you want in a conversation.
  • Accessible anywhere at any time:You don’t have to be at home to get your mail. You can access it from any computer or mobile device that has an Internet connection.

Understanding email addresses

To receive emails, you will need an email account and an email address. Also, if you want to send emails to other people, you will need to obtain their email addresses. It’s important to learn how to write email addresses correctly because if you do not enter them exactly right, your emails will not be delivered or might be delivered to the wrong person.

Email addresses are always written in a standard format that includes a user name, the @ (at) symbol, and the email provider’s domain.

The user name is the name you choose to identify yourself.

Email address username

The email provider is the website that hosts your email account.

Email service provider

Some businesses and organizations use email addresses with their own website domain.

Business website email domain

About email providers

In the past, people usually received an email account from the same companies that provided their Internet access. For example, if AOL provided your Internet connection, you’d have an AOL email address. While this is still true for some people, today it’s increasingly common to use a free web-based email service, also known as webmail. Anyone can use these services, no matter who provides their Internet access.

Webmail providers

Today, the top three webmail providers are Yahoo!, Microsoft’s (previously Hotmail), and Google’s Gmail. These providers are popular because they allow you to access your email account from anywhere with an Internet connection. You can also access webmail on your mobile device.

Top webmail service providers

Other email providers

Many people also have an email address hosted by their company, school, or organization. These email addresses are usually for professional purposes. For example, the people who work for this website have email addresses that end with If you are part of an organization that hosts your email, they’ll show you how to access it.

Many hosted web domains end with a suffix other than .com. Depending on the organization, your provider’s domain might end with a suffix like .gov (for government websites), .edu (for schools), .mil (for military branches), or .org (for nonprofit organizations).

Email applications

Many companies and organizations use an email application, like Microsoft Outlook, for communicating and managing their email. This software can be used with any email provider but is most commonly used by organizations that host their own email.

Email productivity features

In addition to email access, webmail providers offer various tools and features. These features are part of a productivity suite—a set of applications that help you work, communicate, and stay organized. The tools offered will vary by provider, but all major webmail services offer the following features:

  • Instant messaging, or chat, which lets you have text-based conversations with other users (check out our Beyond Email lesson to learn more about the basics of instant messaging)Gmail's instant messaging client
  • An online address book, where you can store contact information for the people you contact frequentlyYahoo! Contacts
  • An online calendar to help organize your schedule and share it with othersGoogle calendar
  • A public profile that you can use for basic social networking purposes, like sharing photos, previous work or school history, and status updates, among other thingsA Google Plus profile

In addition, each provider offers some unique features. For instance, when you sign up for Gmail you gain access to a full range of Google services, including Google Drive, Google Docs, and more. Outlook, on the other hand, offers connectivity with OneDrive and Microsoft Office Web Apps. You can visit our tutorials on Google Drive, Google Docs and OneDrive and Office Online to learn more.

Getting started with email

You should now have a good understanding of what email is all about. Over the next few lessons, we will continue to cover essential email basics, etiquette, and safety tips.

Setting up your own email account

If you want to sign up for your own email account, we suggest choosing from one of the three major webmail providers.

  • Yahoo! Mail: Click Create Account
  • Click Sign up
  • Gmail: Click Create an account (review our lesson on Setting Up a Gmail Account for help)


No matter which email service you choose, you’ll need to learn how to interact with an email interface, including the inbox, the Message pane, and the Compose pane. Depending on the email provider, the interfaces may look and feel different, but they all function in essentially the same way.

In this lesson, we’ll talk about using an email interface to send and receive messages. We’ll also discuss various terms, actions, and features that are commonly used when working with email.

Understanding the email interface

Below are some examples of different email interfaces from Gmail. Review the images below to become familiar with various email interfaces.

Keep in mind that these examples will only provide a general overview. You can visit our Gmail tutorial to learn how to use an email application in detail.


The inbox is where you’ll view and manage emails you receive. Emails are listed with the name of the sender, the subject of the message, and the date received.

Gmail inbox

Message pane

When you select an email in the inbox, it will open in the Message pane. From here, you can read the message and choose how to respond with a variety of commands.

Some of the actions you can take while reading an email

Compose pane

You can click the Compose or New button from your inbox to open the Compose pane to create your own email message. From here, you’ll need to enter the recipient’s email address and a subject. You’ll also have the option to upload files (photos, documents, etc.) as attachments and add formatting to the message.

Typing a subject and body and sending an email

A Compose pane will also appear when you select Reply or Forward. The text from the original message will be copied into the Compose pane.

Common email terms and actions

All email applications use certain terms and commands you will need to understand before using email. The examples below use Gmail’s Compose pane and Message pane to introduce basic email terms, but these will still be applicable for Yahoo! and Outlook.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about the Compose pane.


In addition to email services, most webmail providers offer an online calendar and address book. These features make it easy to stay organized and access your important information from anywhere.

In this lesson, you’ll learn more about the basics of online calendars and contacts lists using examples from a few common webmail providers, including Yahoo! and Gmail.

Gmail contacts list

Contacts basics

Online contacts lists help you organize contact information for your friends, family, and coworkers, just like an address book. Once people are added to your contacts list, it’s easy to access their information anytime and anywhere.

Review the examples below to become familiar with the basic features and advantages of online contacts lists.

Adding contacts

It’s easy to add people to your contacts list. When you create a new contact, you should (at the very least) enter a first and last name, as well as an email address. However, you can also enter other information, like a phone number, home address, and more. In most email accounts, the name and email of anyone you correspond with will be added to your contacts list automatically.

Adding contacts in Gmail

Selecting contacts

Once you’ve added people to your contacts list, you’ll never have to worry about remembering an email address. Whenever you create a new email, you can select the To or Add Recipients button.

Selecting the To field

Then choose recipients from your contacts list. The contacts’ email addresses will be added automatically to the message. You’ll even be able to use the same contact information for other webmail services, like instant messaging and calendar sharing.

Selecting recipients from the contacts list

Most email services will also autocomplete or suggest an email address when you start typing, as long as it’s an address that’s already been saved in your contacts.

Suggesting an email address from contacts

Linking contacts

If you already have a lot of contacts saved in another web-based service, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, it’s easy to link them between accounts, which can save you a lot of time. For example, you could import your Facebook contacts to your webmail service or use your existing contacts list to search for friends on Facebook.

Importing contacts

Contact groups

If you frequently connect with the same group of people, you can create contact groups for quick access. This allows you to quickly sort your contacts by type. For example, you might use one group to organize your personal contacts and another for professional contacts.

 contact group

Calendar basics

Online calendars make it easy to schedule appointments, organize tasks, and manage your time, just like a desk calendar. But unlike a physical calendar, online calendars give you the freedom to quickly edit and rearrange your schedule whenever you want. You’ll even be able to access your calendar on the go and sync it across multiple devices, like your mobile phone and personal computer.

Review the examples below to become familiar with the basic features and advantages of online calendars.

Gmail calendar

Creating appointments

It’s easy to schedule, track, and edit upcoming appointments or events. When you create a new appointment, you should (at the very least) include a title, start and end time, and location, but you can also include other information, such as reminder preferences, detailed notes, and more.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about scheduling appointments.

Switching views

You can choose a variety of view options for your calendar, including a daily, weekly, and monthly summary of your upcoming appointments.

Viewing appointments by day in Google Calendar

Using multiple calendars

If you keep a lot of different appointments, you can create multiple calendars to help organize your schedules. For example, you might use one calendar to keep track of your personal tasks and another to manage your family’s schedule. Each calendar is assigned its own color, so it’s easy to organize lots of different appointments. You can even toggle calendars on and off to easily sort your appointments.

Multiple Calendars in Gmail

Sharing calendars

You can share your calendar with anyone who uses the same webmail provider. Once you’ve shared a calendar, you’ll be able to view and even edit a friend’s calendar, depending on your sharing preferences.

Sharing Calendars

Using email in business

Whether you’re using email at work or applying for a job, the normal rules of email etiquette still apply. However, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind, as business emails can affect your professional reputation.

When applying for a job, make sure that your email address isn’t too extreme or unprofessional. As in the example above, an address like could give others a bad impression.While emails are less formal than written letters, using informal language can seem very unprofessional, as in the example above.Using profanity in a workplace email is extremely unprofessional. In some cases, it might even result in disciplinary action.Keep in mind that your company may read your email. As in the example above, you should never send anything derogatory or offensive about your coworkers or your workplace.Make sure your email is addressed to the right people, especially when sending a reply. In the example above, the message criticizes the original sender while accidentally including him as a recipient.

Remember, you should never use your work email account for personal communication. It’s best to get your own personal account from a webmail service like Gmail, Yahoo!, or To learn more about using the right tone for work email, check out our How Formal should an Email be? lesson.

Email safety

Email is not totally secure, so you should avoid sending sensitive information like credit card numbers, passwords, and your Social Security Number. In addition, you may receive emails from scammers and cybercriminals. The first step in dealing with email safety concerns is understanding them so you know what to look for.

Spam emails


Spam is another term for junk email or unwanted email advertisements. It’s best to ignore or delete these messages. Luckily, most email services offer some protection, including spam filtering.


Certain emails pretend to be from a bank or trusted source in order to steal your personal information. It’s easy for someone to create an email that looks like it’s from a specific business. Be especially cautious of any emails requesting an urgent response.


Some email attachments can contain viruses and other malware. It’s generally safest not to open any attachment you weren’t expecting. If a friend sends you an attachment, you may want to ask if he or she meant to send it before downloading.

Setting up your own email account

Now that you’ve finished exploring Email Basics, you may feel ready to set up your own email account. You can get a free email account from any major webmail provider, including Yahoo!,, and GMAIL .

Avoiding spam and phishing

From email to instant messaging to social media, the Internet is an essential communication tool. Unfortunately, it’s also popular among scammers and cybercriminals. To protect yourself from email scams, malicious software, and identity theft, you’ll need to understand how to identify and avoid potentially dangerous content in your inbox, including spam and phishing attempts.

Watch the video below to learn more about spam and phishing.

Dealing with spam

If you’ve ever received unwanted email advertisements, you may already be familiar with spam, also known as junk email. Spam messages can clutter your inbox and make it more difficult to find the emails you actually want to read. Even worse, spam often includes phishing scams and malware, which can pose a serious risk to your computer. Fortunately, most email services now include several features to help you protect your inbox from spam.

Spam filters

Whenever you receive an email, most email providers will check to see if it’s a real message or spam. Any likely spam messages will be placed in the spam folder so you don’t accidentally open them when checking your email.

Spam-blocking systems aren’t perfect, though, and there may be times when legitimate emails end up in your spam folder. We recommend checking your spam folder regularly to make sure you aren’t missing any important emails.

the spam folder in Gmail

Many email services also have a feature you can use to mark emails as spam. In Gmail, for example, you can select the message and click the Mark as Spam button. This helps your email provider filter out these types of messages in the future.

marking an email as spam

Turning off email images

Spam messages often contain images that the sender can track. When you open the email, the images will load and the spammer will be able to tell if your email works, which could result in even more spam. You can avoid this by turning off email images. Let’s look at how to do this in Gmail, but remember that the process will vary depending on your email service.

  1. Click the gear icon, then select Settings from the drop-down menu.clicking the settings icon
  2. Select Ask before displaying external images, then click Save at the bottom.changing the image settings in gmail
  3. Whenever you open a message with images, Gmail will prevent them from loading by default.images prevented from loading in gmail


Phishing scams are messages that try to trick you into providing sensitive information. These often appear to come from a bank or another trusted source, and they’ll usually want you to re-enter a password, verify a birth date, or confirm a credit card number. Phishing messages may look real enough at first glance, but it’s surprisingly easy for scammers to create convincing details.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about identifying a phishing email.

a phishing email

Logo Fraud

It’s easy to make a copy of any logo. This one looks identical to Bank of America’s official logo, but it doesn’t make it any more authentic.

Other common email scams

Spam and phishing are common problems, but there are many other types of email scams you may encounter. Some will promise to give you a lot of money if you advance a small amount upfront. Others may pretend to be from people you know in real life, and they’ll often ask you to send money or download an attached file.

As with spam and phishing scams, remember to trust your best judgement. You should never send someone money just because you’ve received an email request. You should also never download email attachments you weren’t expecting because they might contain malware that could damage your computer and steal your personal information.

Spam, scams, and phishing schemes will continue to evolve and change. But now that you know what to look for—and what to avoid—you can keep your inbox and computer that much safer.

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