A quick introduction
Email is one of the oldest internet-based technologies. As the name suggests, it is a way of sending electronic mail or messages to people.
Despite its age – Email is approaching 50! – it remains at the heart of most activity you do on the internet. Regardless of whether someone is using a computer or an iPad or a Samsung mobile phone, you can send them an email message (providing they have an email address!). This is what makes it great for communicating with anyone from family members to service providers. When you add to this the flexibility to send and receive photos, videos and documents, you realise why email remains so central to the internet.
Also, you often need an email account to sign up for other online services that you wish to use.
Before you start
This is what you will need before you can use email.
- An internet connection: email apps and services require that you are connected to the internet.
- A device to use these apps and services: This can be a smartphone, tablet or computer. Smartphones and tablets offer the most flexibility.
How these services work
To use email you need an email account. You can sign up for a free email account from any of the main providers of email services. These include Gmail (from Google) and Microsoft Outlook. We would advise using these rather than any email services that may be offered by your broadband internet provider.
When you sign up for an email account you will get an email address. Just like your home address, this is unique and will look something like firstname.lastname@example.org. You do have some choice over what your email address is. However, you cannot have exactly the same email address as another person, so you may have to adapt if your first choice is already taken.
Any Gmail (Google) or Microsoft Outlook account will also give you access to other services, such as digital calendars, from these companies.
Once you have an account you can give this email address to friends and family so they can send you email messages.
We are in the process of compiling follow-on guides which will take you step-by-step through the basics of using these services.
- Gmail This guide looks at some of the basics of using Gmail. It is broken down into chapters to let you dip in and out. You can read through the guidance online or download the printable version to view at your leisure.