For Seniors: Choosing an E-Mail Account
When it comes to selecting an e-mail account, you have many choices. Although you are typically provided with an e-mail account through your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you can still sign-up for a free e-mail account through many online sources, such as Yahoo!, AOL, Gmail, and Windows Live Hotmail.
For example, you might want to use your ISP e-mail account for daily use, and a free e-mail account for things you sign-up for online, such as newsletters and free offers. Having two accounts helps you to keep junk mail out of your main account.
If you connect to the Internet through free Internet hotspots such as those in coffee shops and libraries, you can use a free online account as your main e-mail account.
After you choose an e-mail account, you can send and receive e-mail through the account provider’s online e-mail interface (which works through your web browser), or you can set up a program on your laptop such as Microsoft Outlook (which comes with Microsoft Office) to send and receive e-mail directly.
There are several things you might want to consider when choosing an e-mail account.
Using an e-mail account provided by your ISP: Check with your ISP to see whether an e-mail account comes with your Internet connection service. If it does, your ISP should provide instructions on how to choose a username (that is, the name on your account, such as SusieXYZ@att.com), a password for accessing e-mail, and how to configure your e-mail program to send and receive e-mail.
Searching for a free e-mail provider: If your ISP doesn’t offer e-mail, or you prefer to use another service because of the features it offers, use your browser’s search engine to look for free e-mail providers.
Be cautious when selecting a free provider; some may be sites setup to infect your computer with malware (malicious software). You might limit your research to legitimate, long-standing e-mail providers such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Live Hotmail.
Examining e-mail features: E-mail accounts come with certain features that you should be aware of. For example, they each provide a certain amount of storage for your saved messages. (Today services often offer 25 gigabytes or more — or even unlimited storage — for free.) The account should also include an easy-to-use Address Book or Contacts feature to save your e-mail contacts’ information.
If you use Outlook or a similar program on your laptop to receive (download) your e-mail, you can free up the storage your account provider gives you by having the program delete any e-mail it downloads.
Some services provide better formatting tools for text, a calendar, and a to-do list feature. Whatever service you use, make sure it has good junk-mail features to protect you from unwanted e-mails. You should be able to control junk-mail filters to place messages from certain senders or with certain types of content in a junk-mail folder, where you can review or delete them.
Signing up for a free e-mail account: If you find a free e-mail account you want to use, sign up (usually there will be a Sign Up or Get An Account button or link to click) by providing your name and other contact information and selecting a username and password.
The username is your e-mail address, in the form of UserName@service.com, where service is, for example, Yahoo!, Windows Live Hotmail, or AOL. Some usernames might be taken, so have a few options in mind or select one of the options the service presents you with.
Choosing a safe username: Don’t use your full name, your location, age, or other identifiers as your username if possible. Such personal identifiers might help scam artists or predators to find out more about you than you want them to know. A username such as GolfFan@aol.com tells little about you that someone could use to find you. On the other hand, Joan75Phoenix@gmail.com reveals your name, age, and location.