How to Choose an E-Mail Account - dummies

How to Choose an E-Mail Account

Your Internet service provider (ISP) — whether that’s your cable or phone company, or a small local provider — probably offers you a free e-mail account along with your service. You can also get free accounts from many online sources, such as Yahoo!, AOL, Gmail, and Windows Live Mail.

Note that the Mail app in Windows 8.1 is currently set up to work with Windows Live Hotmail, Outlook, AOL, Yahoo! and Gmail accounts — as well as Microsoft Exchange accounts, which are typically business accounts such as your company might provide.

Here are some tips for getting your own e-mail account:

  • Using e-mail accounts provided by an ISP: Check with your ISP to see whether an e-mail account comes with your connection service. If it does, your ISP should provide instructions on how to choose an e-mail alias (that’s the name on your account, such as and password, and instructions on how to sign into the account.

  • Searching for an 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 find out what’s available. Don’t use the search term free e-mail because results for any search with the word free included are much more likely to return sites that will download bad programs such as viruses onto your laptop.

    Besides, just about all e-mail accounts today are free. Alternatively, you can go directly to services such as Yahoo, AOL, or Gmail by entering their addresses in your browser’s address field.

  • Finding out about features: E-mail accounts come with certain features that you should be aware of. Each account includes a certain amount of storage for your saved messages. (Look for one that provides 10 gigabytes or more.) The account should also include an easy-to-use address book feature to save your contacts’ information. Some services provide better formatting tools for text, as well as calendar and to-do list features.

    Whatever service you use, make sure it has good junk-mail filtering to protect you from unwanted e-mails. You should be able to modify junk-mail filter settings so that the service places messages from certain senders or with certain content in a junk-mail folder, where you can review the messages with caution or delete them.

  • Signing up for an e-mail account: When you find an e-mail account you want to use, sign up 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, where the service is, for example, Yahoo!, Windows Live Hotmail, or AOL. Some usernames might be taken, so have a few options in mind.

  • Making sure your username is a safe one: If possible don’t use your full name, your location, age, or other personal information. Such personal identifiers might help scam artists or predators find out more about you than you want them to know.