BOOT CAMP 161 (08/02/01)


E-mail – the basics part 3


This week we'll be putting theory into practice and looking at how to go about sending and receiving emails on your PC. Next week by popular demand a bonus add-on instalment looking at how to use and configure some of the more advanced facilities in Outlook Express. But first a quick recap, in parts one and two we showed how email messages are composed on a PC then sent, over a normal phone line to a server computer, from where they are sent by high speed data lines over the Internet, to the recipient's server, where it is stored in their personal 'mailbox', until they next log on and download the message onto their PC. In order to send and receive emails you must have an account with an Internet Service Provider or ISP, who will supply you with an email address and password.


The final element in email messaging is the software or 'client' program on your PC that lets you read and write messages, organise your inbox (where received messages are stored) and outbox, (for outgoing messages) and address book. There are lots of different client programs – some of them very good indeed -- but by far the most popular one is Microsoft Outlook Express, which is supplied with Internet Explorer browser program, and included as standard with most versions of Windows.


Over the years Outlook Express has evolved into arguably the best email client program available. The current version 5 is very easy to use, ideal for beginners, and it's flexible with lots of useful features. OE5 is well integrated with other Microsoft applications like Word, it can cope with most email standards and formats and it's suitable for home and business applications. For those reasons we'll be concentrating on Outlook Express though most of what follows applies to other email programs like Netscape Messenger and the client software supplied by AOL and CompuServe.


The first thing you will want to do is send a message to let friends relatives or colleagues know that you have email. There are probably several people you want to exchange messages with on a regular basis, so the first thing to do is set up your Address Book. Open Outlook Express, this might launch the 'Connect' dialogue box, if so just click Work Offline. Next click the Addresses icon and a new dialogue box opens. Click on New, and select New Contact. The tabbed dialogue box that appears is like an index card file and lets you store as much information as you like about your contacts, including things like birthdays, anniversaries, children's names etc. It is actually a very useful utility and well worth getting to know, however, at this stage all you need to do is enter a few contacts names and email addresses in the appropriate fields on the Name tab.


Once that's done close the Address Book and click on the New Mail icon in the top left hand corner of the screen. This opens the New Message box, all of the fields should be blank apart from the 'From' line which should have your email address in it. Click on the icon next to 'To' and a list of the names in your Address Book will appear, select the person you are sending the message to then click 'To' and the address is copied across to the Recipients window. You will also see buttons for CC (carbon copy) and BCC (blind carbon copy), which are used for sending a copy of the same message to several recipients. Click OK and you return to the New Message window with the recipient's details filled in. It's a good idea to type in a few relevant words on the subject line. This will appear as a heading when the recipient downloads your message. If you do not Outlook Express will ask you if you meant to leave the line blank when you send the message; if you don't fill it in the message will be titled 'No Subject'.


Now you can type in your message in the area below the Subject line. For most users this is the quickest and simplest option, however, the New Message Window is only really suitable for relatively small amounts of text. For longer messages, documents and articles it's usually better to write them using your word processor. When you have finished save your work, highlight the copy and click the paste icon (or paste on the Edit menu or press Ctrl + C) to save it to the Windows Clipboard. Open Outlook Express and fill in the To and Subject fields as before, but this time click into the message window -- to insert a flashing cursor -- then click on the Paste icon, (or press Ctrl + V) and your text will appear in the Window, as plain text, which you can edit, if necessary. 


When you are happy with it click on the Send icon and the Dial-Up Connection dialogue box appears. If you click Connect the PC will dial up your server and the message will be sent straight away. If you click Work Offline it will be transferred to your Outbox where it will remain until the next time you log on.


To pick up emails waiting for you in your mailbox click on the Send and Receive icon. The PC dials up your ISP, logs on and automatically sends any emails waiting in the Outbox and downloads any new messages, which will stored in the Outlook Express Inbox. A highlighted number next to the inbox shows how many unread messages you have. To read a message click on the Inbox folder then double click the message you want to open, use the Next and Previous buttons to work your way through the messages in your Inbox.


 Next week – Outlook Express extras




Blind Carbon Copy, sends a copy of a message to several recipients, but without showing details of the other recipients on the email



Windows utility used to temporarily copy chunks of text, data, graphics or pictures. Once on the clipboard the item can be pasted into another part of the document, or transferred to any other Windows application with a copy and paste facility.



Utility in Windows responsible for connecting a PC, via a modem, to the Internet



These days creating your own web pages couldn't be simpler and you can let your imagination and artistic inclinations run wild. Unfortunately some web page designers, and that includes professionals who should know better, sometimes make a right hash of it when it comes to displaying text on web pages. Coloured or patterned backgrounds and excessively light or dark text can make reading difficult, impossible in some cases, but here's a quick and easy way to make the words stand out. Just press the Ctrl + Alt keys and all of the text on display will be highlighted, making it much easier to read.

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