What you need:
To receive or send email you will need an internet connection and email software. See Accessing the Internet for more information. You will need to be on-line (connected to the internet) to post or receive emails, but you can write or read emails while you are off-line.
You will also need an email address. This must always include the @ sign but never www. When you sign up with an internet provider you will be given an email address.
You will also need to know the email address of the person you are writing to. You can type it into the address box or if you are replying to an email, the address will be put in automatically. If you have sent or received email from that person before their email address should be in your Address Book.
Sending and receiving emails:
When you open your email program you choose to compose an email. When it is ready to post, you can choose Send if you are on-line or Send Later if you are off-line. The other person does not need to be on-line at the time that you post the email - it will wait on their ISP's server until next time they connect.
When you have connected to the internet you can see if any emails have been received. You can choose to read them off-line if you wish. Never open any files attached to an email unless you are expecting something to be sent to you. See Viruses for more details.
Web based email:
Another method of sending and receiving email is to use web based email. The advantage of this is that you do not need your own computer or ISP account and you can access your email on any computer, such as at work or at an internet cafe. The disadvantage is that you need to be on-line to read incoming emails or compose outgoing emails. You need to be connected to the website where the mail is stored and processed.
Dealing with junk email:
Sooner or later you will receive email that you do not want. There are many organisations who get hold of lists of email addresses and send out thousands of emails advertising anything from cheap ink cartridges to get-rich-quick schemes. This is known as "spam". After a while it can become annoying. The best thing to do is to delete the messages. Be wary of sending a reply, even to be taken off the mailing list, as you are sending a confirmation that your email address still exists and that information is valuable to spammers.
Beware of offers to get rich quick as they are almost certainly scams. Never pass on any email chain letters - your friends will not thank you! Never pass on virus warnings. See Viruses page for the reason.
When you sign up for anything on the internet, look out for small print asking you to untick a little box if you do not want your details to be passed on to other organisations. Leaving these ticked can sometimes lead to receiving a lot of junk email.