What is the fastest way to check email? Should you have the computer remember the email password? How can you access messages from all accounts at one place? Can you open Hotmail (or any other account) in just one click? Get answers to these questions and more on this page which has helpful tips on how to access email.
Primarily, there are two ways to access an email account. The simple and straightforward method is webmail in which you employ the familiar web browser program. The other method is via email clients, also known as email programs.
Webmail enables you to access email from any computer anywhere in the world as long as it has a web browser and an active Internet connection. Simply load the sign in page in the browser program, type in the username and password information and login to your account.
The other method of accessing email is via a special program which lets you download and store messages on your local computer. Such an application is known as an email client, and, most probably, your computer already has one pre-installed.
FYI, there are tens of email programs available for free, like Windows Live Mail (Microsoft), Thunderbird (Mozilla), Zimbra (formerly owned by Yahoo!) etc. For the more serious Windows or Mac email user, there is Outlook and Entourage, respectively. Email programs have one big advantage over webmail – the messages are available even without an active Internet connection.
Note: Outlook Express was a slimmed down version of Outlook that came with Windows 98 and XP operating systems.
On a computer (desktop/laptop), you can use both the methods of accessing email. Choose webmail, which is the easier and simpler option, if you check messages just a few times a week. Email programs, on the other hand, are recommended for prolific users who want to keep a constant tab on their online communication. Please note that you first need to configure the email account in the chosen email client before you can actually start using it.
Based on the type of mobile phone, whether is a smartphone or an ordinary one, you can either set up the email account in the available email application (using IMAP) or simply load the mobile version of the email site in the web browser (webmail).
On certain services, the username is the full email address and not just the part before the ‘at’ (@) sign. A typical example is Windows Live Hotmail in which the complete email address is required for successful login.
If you use webmail regularly, remember to bookmark the email service sign in page. You would then be able to access it in just one mouse click. On this note, I recently put up detailed instructions on how to create a Hotmail icon and pin it to the Windows 7 taskbar. If you have automatic login set up, clicking this icon will open your Hotmail account immediately (more on this below).
Another great time saving technique for webmail users is to have the email account open automatically when you launch the web browser program. This can be done by having the browser store the login information and setting up the sign in page as homepage in the program. Please refer how to automatically login at the email account for details.
To avoid confusion, especially when you are a beginner, I suggest using only the webmail method when accessing the same email account from two or more computers. However, if you are bent on using email clients on multiple computers, employ the IMAP protocol to configure the account. This keeps everything synchronized – all messages in all folders.
But if only POP3 support is available, change the settings in the client so that a copy of the message is left on the server. Alternatively, you can get IMAP for any email account by using the free Gmail service – read that for more information.
For machines with two or more users (family computers), it’s advisable to set up individual user accounts. This will keep the email accounts completely segregated and avoid any confusion.
The ‘Remember me‘ or equivalent feature on the sign in page enables you to store the email account password in the browser program. This helps in accessing email without entering the login information each time. Though this convenient feature saves you time, do not use it on public or shared computers such as those in libraries or Internet cafes. To put it simply, if you don’t want others to gain access to your account, keep ‘Remember me’ unchecked!
My advice to all Yahoo! Mail subscribers – set up a sign in seal which not only protects you from phishing scams but also helps in personalising the Yahoo! sign in page. You can use an image, photo or text as the sign in seal. Know more about the Yahoo! Mail sign in seal.
Most services let you add other email accounts which means messages from various addresses can be made available at one place. This save a lot of time and avoids the need of signing in at different accounts. However, remember to log in at least once at the other services else the email may be closed due to inactivity.
You don’t need to stick with the default. Modern email programs let you change the interface colors and the layout of the columns as per your requirements. On similar lines, you can completely modify the webmail interface of popular email services through themes.
The most common reason for not being able to access the email account is wrong login information. Make sure you are using the correct username-password pair and that the caps lock key is not depressed (passwords are case sensitive).
Also, there is always a chance that the service is facing some problems, in which case I suggest signing in again after 15-20 minutes. If nothing seems to work, you might need to reset the password which you can do easily by answering the security questions or having the instructions sent to the alternate email address provided at the time of sign up.
In 1986, a 75 cent accounting error at University of California, Berkeley, lead network manager Clifford Stoll to discover hackers at work. Five German hackers were arrested after a year. [more...]