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If you are using a computer with an Internet connection, you almost certainly have acquired, or have been given an e-mail address. So in this chapter, we are going to be looking at the basics of e-mailing. Let's start with a quick overview of what e-mail is and how it works. Emails are electronic text-based messages you can send and receive either through the web site of your e-mail hosting service, or through a dedicated e-mail software program called an e-mail client. When you want to send an e-mail to some one, you need to know his or her e-mail address. Then you compose a message using your e-mail client, or through your e-mail provider's web site.
Your e-mail can be plain text, but you can also include attachments like photos and short audio or video files. When you're done composing your e-mail, you click Send, which sends your e-mail through your e-mail provider's server. Your e-mail service provider's server looks the address of your recipient to figure out where to send it next. Your e-mail is then sent to your recipient's e-mail hosting service and stored there, until your recipient downloads the e-mail into his or her own e-mail client, or reads it from a web browser. Once you click Send, it can be just a matter of seconds before your e-mail arrives at your recipients e-mail server. Now whether this e-mail is then read right away depends up whether your recipient is sitting in front of his or her computer at the time, or has access to some portable e-mail capable device, like a Smart Phone.
And that's a very basic description of how e-mail works. Both you and your recipient have to have your own e-mail addresses. Usually your work or school will provide you with an address. If you're at home, your Internet service provider will give you an e-mail address. Or you can also sign up for free e-mail addresses from services like Google's Gmail, Microsoft's Hotmail or Yahoo!Mail. You can also have and manage as many e-mail address as you wish. Some people like to keep their work and personal e-mail separate, and that's generally a good idea. You probably don't want personal messages going to work's e-mail address. Many companies have policies in place stating that any e-mail that goes through their servers are their property and can be reviewed by them at anytime.
Also, if you were to change jobs, you probably loose access to the e-mails that came to your work address. Personally, I prefer a free e-mail service like Gmail, which isn't tied to a work or Internet service provider, because you might find your self switching Internet providers at some time, and you'd have to again change your address, and you might loose your old e-mails that you received through your service provider. Okay so those are some basic things thing to know and keep in mind about e-mail. We'll get in to more specific topics in the rest of this chapter.
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