The Norman Transcript


June 30, 2013

How do you email?

NORMAN — How do you “do” your email? Do you use a dedicated email program, or do you visit a website and “do” your email there?

It seems like I ask this question of a customer at least once or twice a week. They call me, wondering about a particular email problem and, in an effort to troubleshoot the situation, I ask them how they handle email chores in the first place. Your email method determines the answers to your email questions and problems.

A surprising number of people have no idea how they do email; they just click on “the thing” that says “email” and off they go. Someone — usually a well-meaning friend, relative or computer manufacturer — put “the thing” there and made it to where it somehow takes them to the land of email. Sadly, nobody ever bothered to explain how any of it really works, what “the thing” is (usually an icon or shortcut), or what actually happens when “the thing” is clicked.

In a nutshell, there are only two ways to do email: (1) Use a dedicated email program, such as Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, etc., or (2) use your browser to visit your email provider’s website; then, you login (or “sign in”) and access your email through whatever interface your provider has given you. This second method is called “Webmail.” If you don’t know which one you use, read on.

Email programs, also known as “applications” or “clients,” excel at one thing: email. Many have additional functions, such as calendars and in-depth contacts (or, “address book”) functions, but the main focus of the program is email. One of the most popular email programs is Microsoft Outlook, which is generally part of the Microsoft Office productivity package. Other widely used email programs are Apple Mail (included with Apple Mac computers), Thunderbird (from Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox browser), Windows Live Mail, Opera and Incredimail.

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