How do I Use Email?

Tara Barnett

Learning to use email is an important part of interacting with people online. The easiest and most effective way to learn how to use email is to use an email provider's tutorial or instructions, but using email for very basic functions is usually similar among providers. To use email, one must first sign up for an account, learn how to compose messages, and learn how to read messages received. These are the only truly necessary features of email.

There are numerous free, online tutorials that cover the basics of email.
There are numerous free, online tutorials that cover the basics of email.

The first thing one needs to do to use email is to choose an email provider and sign up for an account. There are many reputable email providers, and it is sometimes helpful to simply go with the provider used by one's friends. It is usually a good idea to use a well-known email service, as these are generally not scams. An email provider should never ask for money or any information one does not feel comfortable giving out, such as a social security number.

Email is a fairly straightforward service that allows people to electronically communicate.
Email is a fairly straightforward service that allows people to electronically communicate.

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Signing up for the account usually involves choosing an email address and setting up certain preferences. One's email address is the text that allows others to send mail to one's inbox. It is important to choose both a password and an email address that one will be able to remember.

After signing up for an account, there may be a welcome message or two from the email provider. These may include important information, so it is a good idea to read them. The inbox of an email account may have a lot of features, but the only truly essential features are those that allow a user to send and read email. Knowing how to use these features can be all one needs to know, although the organizing features may be helpful as well.

If one would like to send an email to another party, it is important to have that party's email address. On the email website, there will usually be a button that says, "compose mail," or "write an email." After clicking on that button, one will be presented with a page that contains several boxes. In the "to" field, one inputs the recipient's email address, and in the largest box, one composes a message. Once the message is finished, one sends the message by hitting "send."

To read an email, one simply clicks on the message in one's inbox. Usually, unread messages will look different from messages that have been read in some way. If one wishes to reply directly to a message that has been received, there is usually a button available when reading the message that says "reply."

People who use email frequently may receive unsolicited messages from people who are strangers. It is not a good idea to open these messages. Also, for safety reasons, it is not a good idea to include much personal information in an email. Messages sent online are like postcards and can be read by others. Email is an excellent and quick way to stay in touch, but it can also be dangerous for new users.

Most mobile devices can send and receive email.
Most mobile devices can send and receive email.

Discussion Comments


One of the appealing aspects of email is that the accounts are so easy to use. A person can become acquainted with the system in a matter of a few hours and feel comfortable using the technology.

Children seem to pick up the skill even more quickly, which accounts for the use of email in education. Teachers are finding that email is a good way to keep their students informed and engaged.


When I was filling in the personal information for my first email account, I was waiting for a screen to appear on the computer where the host would list the charges. I couldn't believe that the use of email wasn't going to cost me a monthly fee, or at least an upfront one-time payment.

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