By Marsha Collier

You can use e-mail to send messages, but you can also subscribe to news lists and feeds on the Internet. In fact, Facebook and Twitter will use your e-mail account to send you notifications of activity on your (and your friends’) pages, private messages, and more if you request them. You’ll be surprised when your e-mail becomes your pipeline to the news that your friends post on the sites.

  1. You can start your search for an e-mail account with your Internet service provider (ISP).

    When you signed up for your Internet service, you were probably allotted five or more e-mail accounts for different members of your family. Your ISP also assigned (or allow you to select) a user name when you signed up.

    Your ISP will have a web interface where you can check your e-mail online, but it’s far more efficient to use a software program on your computer for all your e-mail.

  2. Understand that the e-mail account from your ISP has pluses and minuses, as follows:

    • Minus: You may change Internet service providers in the future. Hence, if you’re using the ISP e-mail address as your own, you’ll have to change it. This will force you to contact everyone who has the old e-mail address and ask them to change it in their records.

    • Plus: Your ISP is going to be a lot more helpful when you have a problem or a question than the web-based free services I mention in the next step. Service providers are invested in keeping you as a paying customer. They have a customer-support staff that you can contact with problems.

  3. Consider using one of the popular web-based e-mail services.

    More and more people have found Internet-based e-mail accounts the convenient way to go for general e-mail. They can access these accounts online from any computer (or mobile device through an app), anytime day or night. And these services are offered at no charge.

    Although the providers don’t ask for money, they do expose you to ads while you go through your e-mail. Most services have settings that allow you to download your e-mails to your home e-mail program and to your smartphone.

  4. The benefits of having a web-based e-mail address is that you can change your home ISP any time you wish, and you won’t have to notify hundreds (perhaps thousands) of connections to give them your new e-mail address.