Some of us get our email by going to our email company’s website; others have our email come to us through a mail management program.
Going to get your email (Web-based email):
Major email companies — AOL, ATT, Bellsouth, Comcast, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc. — have their own websites. You go to the website, log in, see the day’s news/stories/ads, and go to your inbox to read your mail. Easy.
Arranging for your email to come to you (Email Client Program):
Rather than go to an email website to check your mail, you can have your mail come to you by using an email software program — called an email client — such as Windows Live Mail, Outlook, Lotus Notes, Entourage, or Apple Mail. You enter your email address and password only once and each time you open the program, your email is available. Also easy.
Seems like basically the same thing; either way I get my email. Why do I need to know about this?
There are some differences. Here are a few:
- You will not see news, ads, and features with an email client program. You will go right to your inbox.
- Web-based mail will look the same no matter what device you use to access it.
- Web-based mail companies update the program for you (whether you like it or not). Email client programs give you the option to upgrade.
- Email client programs can track two or more of your email addresses from the same screen. Web-based mail makes you log out of one to log in to the other.
- Email client programs use one list of contacts for multiple email addresses; web-based mail makes you keep separate contact lists.
- Web-based email access if free. Some email client programs are free, some are not.
There are also some “hybrid” programs: AOL has its own locally-stored desktop software with a lot of “extra” features only for AOL accounts. Google (Gmail) and Yahoo! are all web-based but offer some client-like features.
The good news is that these choices are not mutually exclusive. You can access your email either way, or both ways. The choice is not about right or wrong — it is about your preferred system.
No need to change the way you currently access your mail — unless you wish to. It’s just good to know what your options are.