28 September 2016
Duration: 3:07

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Understanding email - email is for communication, billions of emails are sent every day. Today a main email address becomes your "passport" for all online accounts, memberships, social networking etc -- There are two kinds of email: ISP account that needs Outlook or similar, and webmail you access through a web browser.

Electronic mail or email is exactly what it sounds like, a way to use your computer and the internet to send electronic letters to your friends and family. With email you write something, a short note, a long letter, then click a button and it's instantly delivered to the recipient regardless of where they live in the world, and that's done via the internet. Responses can happen just as quickly, too, so correspondence that took weeks via post can appear in seconds.

Now instead of using your street address to direct mail, email gives you a unique, electronic address that sends mail straight to you. Here's what an email address looks like. To collect your email, all you need is a username and a password, which will be given to you by your email provider. Think of these as the keys to your letterbox. Without them, anyone could read your mail. Speaking of which, you can read your email on the computer screen, or you can print it out for later, because your email program doesn't just receive mail, it also stores and even organises it for you. You can search your email for people's names, places, well, anything you can think of. With email you can trace correspondence going back for years, and in the order that it actually happened.

To read, send, and search your emails, you need a mail program or mail client such as Windows Live Mail, which is included with all Windows 7 PCs. Mail programs will store your emails on your computer and let you search and read them even when you're not connected to the internet. When you're not at your home PC, you can still view your emails as well as send and receive them by something called webmail. Webmail is a webpage on the internet rather than a program on your computer. Because it stores emails on the internet rather than on your PC, you can access your mail using most gadgets that connect to the internet. You could even use your smartphone or a tablet. You can also access your email from a friend's computer, or a computer at say a library or internet café while you're out on holidays. Alternatively, there are free webmail services such as Yahoo or Google. Just visit it's address using your web browser.

Email is a fast and easy way to communicate using the internet, and once you have an email account, you can use it as a form of ID for other things that you might do on the internet, such as shopping or banking. In fact, along with web surfing, email is probably the most useful feature of the internet.