One of the most popular uses of the Internet is sending e-mail. It’s fast, free and you can attach files, such as pictures, documents, audio files, video clips, etc. To take advantage of this, you need to set up a few things on your PC to be able to use e-mail.
First, let’s take a look at how e-mail works. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has a computer called a mail server. Its only purpose is to take e-mail that you sent to the server and send it out on the Internet to the appropriate place so the recipient can get it. It also will receive e-mail that others sent you and store it until you download it to your PC and read it.
To be able to compose and send an e-mail to the mail server so it can send it out for you, or to connect to the mail server and download the e-mail it received for you, you need to install and configure a program on your PC. This program is called an e-mail client.
There are many e-mail clients available. Most of them are free, some of them offer an upgrade option to the professional version for a price. Your choice should be based on what features you need and which program you’re most comfortable with. You can always switch to another e-mail program if you don’t like what you currently use, don’t find it user-friendly, or are missing some features. Also, keep in mind, that even though your ISP might recommend, urge, or insist on you using a certain e-mail client, it doesn’t mean that you have to use that one. It’s your choice, find what works best for you.
This is my e-mail client of choice right now. It is a compact, but powerful e-mail program. I like the way you can customize the layout and toolbars, set up filters, and manage multiple e-mail accounts easily. The most recent version of Outlook Express comes with Windows 98 SE or can be downloaded as part of the Internet Explorer 5 package from Microsoft. There is a more professional version called Outlook which can be either purchased separately or comes with MS Office. It has built-in scheduling, calendar and other information management functions.
The Netscape e-mail client is part of the Netscape Communicator suite which can be downloaded for free from Netscape. It is also pretty easy to use, and sufficient for the average home users.
Eudora is another good e-mail client which has been around for a while and is often adapted in business environments. You can download the light version for free from the Eudora web site. If you like it, you can upgrade to Eudora Pro for $49.95.
There are other e-mail clients available, but these are the top three. Chances are that your ISP recommended one of these or that you might have heard about one and want to try it. Either way, you choose the one you want, install it, and then it’s time to configure it.