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How do I keep email private?

How do I keep email private?

Our home computer is used by everyone including the housecat who is often seen walking on the keyboard. As of now, anyone can access my email messages (even the cat). Is there a way I can make my email private so that it’s only available to me and no one else? If it’s of any help, we have a new computer that runs Windows.
Carlos Angione

Following up with Carlos, I came to know that he is a young boy in mid teens – it’s no surprise that he wants to keep his email private! I was also made to understand that his computer runs the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system. Though my answer will be centred on Windows 7, I will tell you how to keep an email account confidential and a secret on other operating systems too.

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But before begin, you need to understand that there are two popular methods of accessing email from a computer. The first is to use webmail interface through web browser and the second is to employ an email client such as Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail (on Windows 7).

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and the choice lies entirely upon you; hence, I will not be asking you to change the way you check email. For further reading, refer advantages of webmail and advantages of email programs like Outlook Express.

Webmail: use sign in form and browser features to keep email private

Assuming you have a webmail account from popular email service providers such as Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail, please remember the following points to keep your email private. The email account will remain a secret unless someone peers over your shoulder for which I recommend closing the door.

  • Webmail sign in : There is a ‘Remember password‘ or equivalent feature on the sign in page of all the three popular email services. It lets you conveniently skip the sign in page and go directly to the inbox. Never use this option and ensure it is unchecked when you login.
  • Secure login: At the time of writing, both Gmail and Yahoo!Mail employ https (secure http) for subscriber login; in Hotmail, however, it is not the default – make sure you Use enhanced security when logging in.
  • Sign out each time: Even if you don’t use the “Remember password” (or equivalent) feature, I suggest you sign out from your account once your work is done and close the browser window.
  • Clean browser cache and saved passwords: Paranoid about keeping your email private? Delete the browser cache and saved passwords. Remember, if you download email attachments, you have to get rid of them too.
  • Use a different web browser: Keeping your account away from others is a good way to make your email private. Thus, don’t employ the same software – download a web browser for your email account. Though I suggest you install Chrome on the machine, take your pick from the big list of free web browsers.
  • Check email account secretly: No, this does not concern wearing veils or masks over your face. The Incognito mode of Google Chrome (or InPrivate browsing in Internet Explorer) lets you surf… secretly. This means the pages you visit will not be shown in the browser history and cookies will automatically be deleted once the browser window is closed.

Keep email private with a different user account on Windows 7 computer

The best way to keep email private when you check the account through software such as Windows Live Mail (default email program on Windows 7), is to create a completely new user account on the Windows 7 computer. This can be done only by the admin user – please check with the company who provided you with the machine. (It’s not complicated as it sounds.) As long as you don’t share the login information of this distinct user account, no one will even know you have an email address – 100% privacy!

User accounts can also be made on Windows Vista. On older versions of Windows (like XP), you have to create a new identity in Outlook Express or Outlook – whichever email program you use.

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