To use email, you must have an email account consisting of a username and a password, and a mailbox hosted by an email server belonging to your email provider. The username/password combination gives you access to your mailbox. The mailbox consists of multiple folders, such as Inbox, Sent Mail, Deleted Mail, etc.
Your email address is a label associated with your mailbox and is used for delivering mail to the mailbox. Typically, there is one email address per email account and one email address for each mailbox, however extra email addresses known as aliases can be defined.
An email address always consists of three parts: the first part is the mailbox name, the second part is a “@”, and the third part is a domain name. Mailbox names are case sensitive, but that is seldom enforced. Domain names are not case sensitive.
If your email address is email@example.com, this means that Google is hosting your email server. If your email is firstname.lastname@example.org, then your email server is typically hosted by whomever is hosting the gimnicher.com domain (although it is also possible that one company is hosting your domain and another company is hosting your email server).
To access your email, you need to use an email client. This is a point that many people find confusing. Regardless of whether you are using a computer or a smart device such as an iPhone or Android device, there are two types of email clients, at least one of which must be installed on your device. One type is a dedicated email client such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or a Mail app; the other type is a Web browser such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.
When using a dedicated email client, it must be configured with several settings, including your email username and password, before you can successfully send and receive email. You must also select one of three possible email connection protocols: POP3, IMAP, or Exchange.
- POP3: All email messages are downloaded from the mail server and stored locally. You have a couple of choices to indicate when email should be deleted from the email server. If you are using email on multiple devices, there is no synchronization among them. In other words, if you delete an email on one device, it will still be present on other devices (assuming it was still on the email server when the other devices connected.) Sent email is only stored locally.
- IMAP: Your inbox is stored on the email server and typically sent email is stored locally. Because the inbox is not stored locally, it can be synchronized across multiple devices. In other words, if you delete an email on one device it will be deleted on all devices.
- Exchange: The Exchange protocol was developed by Microsoft. All email, including incoming and sent, is stored on the server and synced across all devices. Calendar, Contacts, and Notes are synced as well. Outlook is typically used as the email client, but web access is also possible.
If you check your email from a lot of devices, IMAP or Exchange is typically used. If you are accessing your email from just one device, either POP3 or IMAP will be just fine. If you need to share calendar, contacts, or notes with others, then Exchange is your best choice.
If you receive errors attempting to send email, there are often two reasons for this. The first is your email password has changed. The second is you do not have an active network connection or your network connection is down. There can be other reasons as well, but these are the most common and the first things to check.
When using a Web browser, you must know the web address defined by the email hosting provider and again your email username and password.