Email has become the premier way to communicate in the computer era. If you're not hooked up to email, you may never hear from anyone you know. Email is a little more complicated than sending a letter in the mail, but it's the same idea. You'll be on your way to sending letters via your computer in no time.
Open up your internet browser and pick an email program to use. The big ones are Gmail, Yahoo! and MSN Hotmail. Go to one of these websites and sign up for an email account. This usually involves picking a personal email address, choosing a password and entering some other information like your name or zip code.
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Gather email addresses of people you know and put them in your contacts list. Each email program should have a "Contacts" section, so click on that and start typing in email addresses. Having all your contacts in your email account will make it easier to write emails later--you won't have to manually type in the person's email address every time!
To start using email, sign in with your email address and password from your email program's website. You can go to each email program's home page and then click "Email" or save the email sign-in webpage to your bookmarks. Once you've signed in, you'll see your inbox. This is where you'll see emails that people send you.
To write an email, click the "Compose Mail" or "Write an Email" link. You'll see a page with a bunch of empty boxes on it. In the first box "To:" you'll put the person's email address you're sending the email to. Then choose a subject, and finally, write your email in the big box. When you're done, click send.
You might want to send a mass email to all your contacts letting them know of your new email address. Each email program is slightly different in sending emails to multiple people. There should be a link to your contacts near the "To" box (Yahoo has a link called "Insert addresses.") You'll check a box next to each contact's name to add them to an email.
In order to read emails that are sent to you, all you have to do is click on the email subject. If you want to send an email you received to someone else, this function is called "Forward." All you have to do is click the "Forward" button for most email programs and then click "Send."
You'll also see a "Trash" link in your email inbox. This is where you can put emails that you don't want to look at anymore. It's like the Trash option on your computer where you can delete files. Put emails you don't need anymore in the Trash, and empty the Trash when it gets too full.
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You can also use a program called Outlook to check your email. This is usually on your computer already--to use it, open up the program and follow the instructions your computer provides. The layout is very similar to the email programs already described above.