Email, general discription.

If you need help with Email, have a read at the following, hopefully it will help.

Electronic Mail, you either love it or you hate it! Whatever you thoughts about it, email does seem to be something that isn’t going to go away and in a lot of cases it is now considered to be a legal form of communication. In some cases though, Email is being replaced by IM (Instant Messaging) and/ or Texting but that is only really suitable for quick comments.

Email was never designed to do what people use it for these days but it still copes very well with all the huge attachments and fancy “fonts” and is used more to send and receive messages in HTML format*, instead of the “plain text*” as originally intended.

To put it in context, email is basically an electronic version of sending a letter by snail mail (ordinary post), the advantage is that it is delivered almost immediately; wherever you are in the world.

Unlike “Snail Mail”, you can collect (and send) email wherever you have access to a computer (or smart-phone) with a live connection to the Internet. This means you don’t have to wait in all day waiting for a letter to be delivered and you don’t have to find a post box and then wait for it to be collected. Unfortunately, you can’t send parcels by email 🙁

When using email, you will either use a web based “Web-mail*” service or you will use an “email client*”. The latter can only be used if you have a computer connected to the Internet at home or you have a laptop or Smart-phone that can connect to the Internet wherever you are located. Web-mail, can be used on any computer that has an Internet connection , such as an Internet Cafe, and is very useful but has a few drawbacks.

A lot of people only have one email address that they use for everything and quite often it is with the company they pay for their Internet connection (ISP*). Many people have several email addresses for different purposes and often they have their own domain name e.g. “” or “”. the bit after the “@” is the domain name.

In my case I have an old blueyonder address (now Virginmedia), I have several domains each with several email addresses and I have a few Google-mail (Gmail) addresses. You might be thinking “how does he keep track of all the messages” Well, I’m a geek so it’s easy 🙂 Seriously, it is quite easy because I use an email client on my laptop and desktop and smartphone. I don’t use Web-mail because it doesn’t work like I want to but some people seem to like Web-mail.

My favourite email client is Thunderbird, which is from Mozilla who also happen to do my favourite Web browser –

Firefox. If you use email at work, chances are, you will be using Microsoft Outlook (see below) as part of the office suite and I used to like Outlook a lot but Thunderbird is more suitable in the home environment. Thunderbird looks and feels like Outlook and has a few advantages. There are other good email clients if you’re not keen on Thunderbird. I can collect mail from all of my email boxes and sort folders how I want and have the added bonus of being able to synchronise my Google Calender. This means I can update my G Cal using my laptop or desktop PC without having to use the Web version, I can also update the calendar using my Windows phone  so I’m always up to date with my email and calendar, even on the move, and can even get txt alerts for appointments/events etc.

If you’re struggling with email, get in touch; I can help you.

* Notes

HTML Format: This is basically where you can use fancy fonts and send smilies etc/

Plain text: Is just plain text. You don’t get any option to use fancy fonts.

Web Mail: To access your email using Web Mail, you need to open a Web browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox or Chrome etc. Mail is not usually stored on the PC you’re using, so you can usually use any device with an Internet connetion.

Email Client: This is a bit of software / program that you use instead of Web Mail. You don’t use a Web Browser and you can usually choose to download and store your mail on your PC so that you can read it “off-line”.

ISP: Internet Service Provider.

Microsoft OUTLOOK: Lot of confusion lately about Outlook because Microsoft has changed the name and generally re-worked the “Microsoft Mail”.

In the beginning 🙂 Going back to 1995/6 (memory is a bit vague) Microsoft Windows had a built-in email client called Outlook Express and from memory, you could collect email from any ISP. In addition they also offered “Outlook” as part of the Office suite but it could be purchased on it’s own. This was mainly aimed at businesses to be used with Microsoft Exchange Server, which I won’t go into. Microsoft purchased “Hotmail” in the late nineties (97/98) and it became known as MSN Hotmail. This gave Microsoft the opportuntity to offer a “Web Mail” service which became known as WindowsLive. The built-in Outlook Express client was dropped for Windows 7 and Microsoft only then offered WindowsLive “WebMail”. It’s also been called Outook Mail and now it’s called “”. Confused yet? 🙂 is now aiming to standardise across all devices It’s slightly different on the Windows Phones but that’s a “watch this space”.  The mail app built-in to Windows desktop version from 8 onwards keeps evolving and again is a “watch this space”! You can get the “” app for iPhones, Ipads and ‘Droid phones/Tablets. It brings together in place your mail, calendar, (cloud) files and contacts (People). Might not be everyones cup of tea but I prefer it to the built-in iPad mail client. Strangely the Mail app built-in to Windows 10 desktop is only mail and calendar, hope that will change! It is very easy to collect your mail from any service provider, including where you have your own domain but in principle it is a sort of hibred “WebMail” that uses its own GUI so that you don’t need to use a browser.  You can still use a browser to access your mail by just going to so if you’re travelling and don’t have your PC or Laptop or Phone, you can borrow a PC with an Internet connection and get your mail. The app on my iPad is lovely but on my PC and laptop, I still prefer Thunderbird.

The finish off this bit, Microsoft Office Outlook is still there, its part of the Office suite. It is still an email client that works best with Exchange server and is aimed at busineses.

GMAIL (Googlemail)

Gmail has for many people become the defacto email system because it has always been very accomodating and pretty easy to use, oh and free 🙂 It is primarily a “WebMail” system needing a browser to access your mail and Google have in many ways been trail blazers and trend setters with WebMail, some might say also a little cavalier but the way they integrated mail, contacts and calendars and all the other Google apps all together and accessed by using a browser is probably why so many use it. Log in to Google and you have access to all their services and apps.

Google made it possible to use Email Clients such as Thunderbird instead of using a browser and in recent years they started using the GMAIL app. All Android phones and tablets have the Gmail app built in and they made it very easy to pickup mail from whatever mail service provider you used.

Apple mail has a simliar set up to Gmail, with iCloud but they have their own way of doing things! If you have an iPhone or iPad, they make it easy to setup mail and grab it from anywhere (as do the others) As yet, they don’t have an integrated approach when using an Apple device so Mail is mail, Contacts is contacts, Calendar is Calendar etc The beauty of Apple devices is that you send direct messages to other Apple users, instead of using email. You can sign in to using your browser to access your mail, calendar etc but it’s hard work! There doesn’t seem to be a way to select several messages without having to click on each one, in turn, before doing a “global action” e.g. delete!


Probably still quite a few other mail providers but they’ll be similar to the above 3.

Facebook Messenger is very popular and free, it’s great for doing quick messages and sending photos etc. There are other free  IM (Instant Message) providers like Whatapp. The very popular MSN Messenger is now Skype Messenger.

I’m sure by the time you read this, something will have changed 🙂

updated 13/02/2016