What is Electronic Mail?

Electronic Mail (or E-Mail) is a system of communications through the internet which allows the user to send written data, or other files to another user. As in normal mail there is a sender and author of the message and an addressee. The most important difference between E-Mail and normal mail is that to send a letter electronically, you only need a computer, a modem, a telephone line and a mailing software.

The key of all the process consists on specifying the user address. In normal mail, you'd use the street or postal code of the addressee, but in E-Mail you'd just write a user name followed by @ and the E-Mail server. This internet addresses are structured in an specific way separated by dots. Every computer connected to the internet, has its own user name as a telephone does. (e.g. Whenever you send an E-Mail with a wrong address, your massage is returned.Whenever you send an E-Mail with a wrong address, your message is returned.

What Makes Electronic Mail so Interesting

  • Speed: Only a few seconds are required to find the addressee's post box.

  • Economy: Sending a message is very cheap, even if you send it to another country, because the connection phone is being made to the same province in which you are.

  • Efficiency: The effort required in the use of Electronic Mail is minimum in comparison with the possibilities of the system.

  • Versatility: Electronic Mail is not only an effective way of sending messages from one user to another. It can also be used to send and recveive sounds, graphics, images, or any other file.

  • Absence of Privacy: Electronic Mail allows the access of other users to our messages, existing insecurity.

Structure of a message

Messages sent through E-Mail are made up by two different parts. One of the parts is the message control information and the other one is the text.

The message control information, is formed by the data for the correct sending of the message, such as: the address of the sender and the receiver, the subject of the message, the date of sending and other important details about the message.

The text part, is obviously the content of the letter.

This is an example of the basic structure of an E-Mail



Subject: request for subscription


Sending and receiving E-mail

There are many ways of sending and receiving electronic mail (E-mail) but the basic process is the same:

1.- Using a suitable e-mail program (eg. Outlook) you type your message.

2.- Once you have addressed and send your e-mail, it is encoded by a modem and sent down the telephone line as analogue signal.

3.- The e-mail message arrives at your provider´s server, if it recognizes the e- mail address as valid, the e-mail is sent.

4.- The data is sent via the Internet.

5.- The data is received by the recipient´s provider and sent to his or her unique “pigeon hole” or personal mailbox.

6.- Once your message reaches the host, it will remain there until the recipient next connects to the Internet.

7.- Finally, the recipient´s modem and computer decode the data and your e-mail message can be read as a text file.


Nowadays, there are a variety of e-mail programs. In this page we will see the main characteristics of the most popular programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Netscape Messenger.

E-mail programs are used to sent, receive and to arrange all messages in your computer. Also, many of the e-mail programs have other uses such as fax, news programs or contact arrange.

The default, perfect e-mail program doesn't exist, each one has its advantages and disadvantages and you'd normally use the one you'd prefer for your necessities.

Because of the great interests software companies have in the Internet, most e-mail programs are freeware or shareware (in the case of Outlook it is the Express version the one you'd obtain as freeware).

Microsoft Outlook Express:

This is the e-mail program included in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.x suite. More than just sending and receiving messages, this program has other very interesting possibilities. We can se this very clearly when we open the program, in which we can see a window asking us if we want to work on the e-mail messages, newsgroups, faxes or if we want to arrange our contacts.

One of the great disadvantages of this program is the e-mail window, which is quite badly arranged. At the left part of the window, we can see a tree with all the folders where there are messages stored. Beside this window we can see another one dived in two. In the upper part, we can see a list of all the messages stored and some information about them. Once we've chosen a message, we can read it in the bottom part of the window. The trouble with this, is that the message window is too small to read it entirely, so we have to keep scrolling it.


Folder Tree Starting Window

Message List Current Message Window

Netscape Communicator 4.x Messenger:

This program differs to Microsoft's Outlook Express in that in is some sort of applet inside Netscape's Communicator. This may be in some way annoying because to start using Messenger you have to execute the full Communicator, which takes unnecessary time.

This program's interface can be considered excellent, because it allows the users to move easily between sections and at the same time, read the message which fits perfectly in the space provided.

Another great advantage of Messenger, is the message composing capabilities. Besides the possibilities of including attachments to the messages, it is also possible to send them in HTML format, which makes them much more attractive and well presented.

Folders Menu Messages Directory Current Message

Enviado por:Pau Latorre
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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