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Posts from the ‘Email’ Category

Voicemail to Email

Get your landline voicemail as an email!

If your landline is provided by Comcast (xfinity), and you use the xfinity voice mail system (not an answering machine box), you can receive your voice mail messages (text and audio) as an email.*

I love this feature.


  • You don’t have to “call in” to check your voice messages (but you do have to check your email).
  • If the caller doesn’t leave a message (many marketing calls don’t), you will not even be bothered.
  • If a robo caller does leave a message, you can “see” it faster than that you can listen to it, and delete it sooner.
Other notes
  • To set this up, you will need to have an xfinity account and know your username and password. You probably have an account if you already have Comcast service; your username and password can be located or reset.
  • Even if you delete the voice mail email, the voice mail message itself is still on the xfinity website. Go to your xfinity account periodically and delete old messages.
  • The voice-to-text is not always accurate. Best to listen to the audio (scroll to the bottom of the email to press “play”) if you question the translation.
To set this up:

* I am highlighting Comcast as most of my ITmail readers on Skidaway Island have Comcast. If you have a landline with another provider, check to see if it offers the same service.

No Such Thing

Clearly, there are people who fall for all kinds of computer scams — the scam business is as active as ever. I hope you are not among them.

Just a reminder, there is no such thing as:

  • Your email account being suspended in 24 hours
  • Your bank account being closed suddenly
  • Your Windows license key expiring
  • An unknown caller knowing if your computer is infected
  • A surprise Amazon gift certificate
  • A “Thank you” from Apple for your expensive iTunes purchase (with a note saying,
  • “If you didn’t make this purchase, click here…”)
  • A million dollars from a foreign country waiting for you in customs

If it seems unusual, it is probably a scam. Please delete/hang up/ignore and return to whatever you were doing.

A Guest in the Room

When you receive a genuine (not-spam) email from someone you know, do you assume it’s for you?

Of course you do — it’s addressed to you.

But is your name on the “To” line, the CC (Courtesy Copy) line, or the BCC (Blind Courtesy Copy) line?

It matters.

If your email address is in the “To” line, you are the primary recipient. The sender is talking directly to you. Feel free to reply as appropriate.

If your email address is in the CC line or the BCC line, you are not the primary recipient. You have been copied or blind-copied because the sender wants you to be privy to the content but isn’t writing directly to you. You are like a guest in the room.

As such, email etiquette suggests that you consider whether a reply is appropriate. I recommend if you’re on the CC line, don’t reply. You’re on the CC line for a reason — only so you receive that information. Let the folks on the “to” line respond, unless you are specifically invited into the conversation.*

Before you click “Reply,” consider whether you are being asked to do so.

*credit CBS News MoneyWatch, 9 Keys to Email Etiquette.

Inbox Cleanup

Is today the day you will clean out your email inbox? Probably not.


Because … 1) it’s a daunting task, and 2) you spend so much time re-reading old email that you never actually get to the cleaning part. (Or maybe that’s just me?)

Here’s some help: temporarily change how your email is sorted — sort by the sender, rather than by date sent — and delete whole groups from the same sender at once.

  • Your inbox is usually sorted by “date sent”; the newest email is on the top.
  • If you sort your email by “from” (or “sender”), your email will be grouped alphabetically; all email from “Amazon” will be at the top and all email from “Zappos” will be at the bottom.
  • To delete in bulk, click the first email in a group, hold down the “shift” key, and then click the last email in the group. The first, last, and every email in between will be selected. Click “Delete.”
  • Repeat from A to Z as desired, skipping individual entries or whole groups of senders you wish to save.
  • To hand pick from those remaining, hold down the Control key (Windows) or Command key (Mac) and click them one at a time.

When you are finished, set your sort preference back to “date sent” so that your inbox looks like it always did — just much cleaner!

NOTE: Not all devices and email services have this sort feature, and the method varies among those that do. Search the internet for your email service or device and the words “sort by sender.” If yours does not offer this feature, you can always do an inbox search for all email from a specific sender and delete those that are are found.

The Subject Subject

Take the “Subject” line of your outgoing email seriously; the more thoughtful your Subject, the more likely your readers will want to open it.

Until recently, the Subject line wasn’t too important. The return address identified you as the sender, and the Message area relayed your message. However, with the increase in “spoofed” emails that look like they are from people you know — but are not, the Subject line takes on greater significance.

Spoofers love attention-getting global Subjects: “You’ve got to see this!” or “Funniest Video Ever!” If you do this too, your readers may delete your email unopened. If, however, your Subject is specific to your message — “Monday Tennis Schedule” or “Gourmet Club Dinner Menu” — you won’t make your readers guess what your email is about, or whether it is from you at all.

My suggestion: type your subject after you type your message, not before. Then you can you accurately sum it up with a message-specific Subject.


Auto-Correct: your phone thinking it knows better than you what you want to say. You start typing and your phone finishes the word for you.

This is helpful … unless it’s not the word you want to use. One word, or even one letter, can change your whole message.
  • “I am not going to the store” is not the same as “I am now going to the store.”
  • “I hope he dies” isn’t “I hope he does.”
  • And, well, pubic isn’t public in any case.
If you think Auto-Correct is your worst enema, (oops! enemy), you can turn it off in the Keyboard section of your Settings menu.

If you leave it on, just be really really sure you know what your message says before you click Send.

Last Minute Gifts

T’was the week before … well, you know.

Still need some gifts? Consider an electronic gift card.

Purchase it online and the notice will be emailed to the recipient. This gift can happen in a matter of minutes; just have your credit card and the recipient’s email address ready.

The recipient can use the virtual card on the store’s website or print it out and take it to the store.

There should be something for everyone: Barnes and Noble, Home Depot, Apple, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Amazon, to name a few.

To make this gift more personal, choose a store that you know the recipient likes (ask his/her friends, parents, or siblings for suggestions) and, in the accompanying message, ask your recipient to let you know what he/she bought.

Happ-e shopping and happy holidays!

Holiday Cards 2016

How is your holiday card project coming? All done? Working on it? Just realized it’s December … yikes!

There’s still time to get it together; your computer can be a big help. Here are some options:

Do the whole thing electronically
Upload one or more pictures to a web-based photocard site
Choose your card design
Type your message
Upload your mailing addresses (to send a printed card) or your email addresses (to send a paperless electronic card)

Do most of it electronically
Use the card site to create your card but have the company mail you the cards and envelopes (with printed return address option)
Add a personal note and address by hand (or label)

Do some of it electronically
Create your card (or holiday letter) on your computer
Print copies on your printer
Add a personal note and address by hand (or label)

Do most of it manually
Purchase or handwrite cards but print your addresses from your computer onto labels.

Lots of choices. Where to start?

To find a web-based service that is right for you, type “holiday photo cards,” or “holiday ecards” into your computer’s search engine. (I’m sure some of the company names will look familiar to you from their commercials). Or look at a card you saved from last year — or ask the person who sent it — to learn which company created it.

I’m sure your friends and family will appreciate your holiday sentiments no matter how they arrive.

Email Theory

I have a theory: The less junk mail you send, the less you receive.

We all get email that we do not want. But not all junk mail is the same. We can mark some as “Junk” or “Spam,” or we can try to “Unsubscribe.”

But what about the unwanted email — jokes, political statements, videos, stream-of-conscious ramblings, etc. — we get from people we know who send them to everyone they know?

If we mark a friend’s address as “Junk” or “Spam,” or we block them, we may not see any email from them, including those messages we may actually want.

Here is my recommendation: stop sending bulk email to everyone in your contact list. If you stop, it reduces the junk mail in their inboxes. If they stop, it reduces the junk mail in yours. It’s a start.

Rather, hand pick the people you think will appreciate what you wish to share. They will appreciate that you specifically chose them.

If you do get unwanted email from particular acquaintances, you can reply diplomatically asking that they take you off their distribution list. Not only will you receive fewer unwanted messages, you will remind them to be more thoughtful about what — and to whom — they send.

And, of course, if you no longer wish to receive my ITmail, please click the “SafeUnsubscribe” link below. That’s why it’s there. (But I hope you won’t!)

The Subject Line

The more we hesitate to open unfamiliar email, the more important the “Subject” Line becomes. Please take it seriously.

In the past, the Subject line could be an afterthought. The return address identified you as the sender and the message area said what you wanted to say. Why fill in the Subject line at all?

Today, with the frequent “spoofed” emails that look like they are from people we know, the Subject line takes on new importance.

Spoofers love to pique our curiousity with Subjects like, “Best Video Ever,” or “You Gotta See This!”

Rather than enter something generic — or leave the Subject line blank — we should choose meaningful content: “Monday Tennis Schedule” or “Upcoming Gourmet Dinner Menu.”

You get the idea.

Don’t make friends and colleagues guess what your email is about, or whether the mail is even from you at all.

Be thoughtful about the Subject line. Your readers will appreciate it.