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There are two basic ways to access your e-mail: either through your e-mail provider's web site - for example, you could go to gmail.com in your web browser to access your Gmail e-mail - or you can use one of several available e-mail applications to download, read, write and manage your e-mail. These e-mail application are referred to as e-mail clients. If you chose to go to the web based e-mail route, there is very little you need to set up. Just go to your e-mail services web site and log in with your Username and Password. And this doesn't just apply to free e-mail services like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. Many businesses and schools offer their employees and students web access to their e-mail.
The advantage is that it's very easy to get to your e-mail from any computer with an Internet connection. The down side is that you have to be online to read and compose your e-mails. So many people prefer to use e-mail clients because it offers the ability to view your old e-mails and compose new messages without having to be online. So if you were on a plane with no Internet access, for example, you could still review the e-mails you've previously received and write new e-mails to be sent, once you land and get back online. If you only use the web-based mail, you wouldn't have access to any of your received e-mails, and you'd have to use a word processor to compose new e-mails and then copy and paste them into your web mail once you got back online.
So if e-mail is a big part of your day- to-day activities, it makes sense to set up an e-mail client. Now there are several choices of clients out there for both Macs and PCs. Mac OS X comes with its mail application built-in, but you'll also find clients like Microsoft Entourage or Mozilla Thunderbird for Macs as well. Windows has Windows Mail, but many people use Outlook, or Outlook Express, or Thunderbird. Regardless of which e-mail client you end up using, you still need to understand and use specific information in order to set up your e-mail through your choice of client. Let's take a look at the basics. First, there are two main types of e-mail systems: POP and IMAP.
POP is the most common type of e-mail service used by Internet hosting service providers, and it basically works like this. Email that's sent to your account is stored on your e-mail service's server until your e-mail client notices the new message and downloads it off the server. Once the message has been downloaded from the server, it's usually deleted from the server anywhere from immediately to within one or two weeks. At that point, the only of the e- mail is found on your computer. The problem with POP e-mail is if you use more than one computer or device to check your e-mail, you may end up with some messages on one computer and other messages on another computer.
And if you're like most people these days, you'll probably have more than one device that you receive e-mail on like your phone. For this reason, most e-mail service providers also offer and recommend using IMAP e-mail service. Unlike POP e-mail, IMAP e-mail is all kept and managed online. So if you read a new incoming message on your computer, for example, your phone will still download a copy of the message as well. With IMAP e-mail, both received and sent messages will remain synced across your devices, and you'll have access to all of your messages, regardless of which device you're using. So like I said, many e-mail providers have both POP and IMAP services available these days.
So if you have a choice, I definitely recommend going with IMAP. So the first step of setting up an e-mail client is to decide if you want POP or IMAP. Next, you'll need you username and password. Your e-mail service, your work, or your school will provide these to you. In many cases, you'll be able to create your own username and password. You'll also need to know your incoming and outgoing mail servers. This is the unique address that lets your e-mail client know where to find your e-mail server so it can download and send messages. Incoming servers often take the form of addresses like imap.gmail.com or mail.lynda.com, while outgoing mail servers usually begin with the prefix of SMTP as in smtp.gmail.com.
SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, not that you need to know that, but it's the most common outgoing server address. Now where you enter this information is going to vary from e-mail client to e-mail client. Most modern e-mail clients have a setup assistant that works you through setting up your e-mail with a series of questions. If you have e-mail service through a fairly common provider, you may find that your e-mail client is able to fill out all the server information for you, and that you will only need to provide your username and password. If you have a less common provider, you may have to enter the information manually. Just know that all the necessary information to set up your e-mail will be provided to you by your e-mail service.
So that's the basics of what you need to know to set up an e-mail client. Again, if you are using web-based mail, you don't need to know any thing about incoming or outgoing servers, just log in with your username and password. But if you spend a lot of time with e-mail, you should definitely start using an e-mail client.
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