September 2018 – Communicating with Email and Video Chat

We have many choices for communicating these days. Two of the most popular are email and video chat. So I thought I’d put together some information about the choices we have in platforms.



Work email accounts, issued to employees, often look like [username]@[company].com.  Since workplaces often maintain records of all messages that go through company servers, most employees try not to conduct personal business using their work email accounts.

Many people get their personal Email account from their internet service provider.  Some ISP’s manage their own email servers, others use a third party like Yahoo to handle Email.  ISP-provided email accounts usually look like [username]@[isp-name].net even if they are managed by a third party

Some people go to another source for their personal email needs.  Google’s Gmail is popular.  Yahoo is as well. Addresses from these providers look like [username] or [username]


Most of us remember accessing email via a program on our computer. Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail have been traditionally popular because they came free with computer operating systems. Other companies competed in this space too, Qualcomm’s Eudora was one of my favorites.   Businesses tended and still do often go with either Outlook Exchange or a similar Apple product.  Computer-based email applications offer sophisticated functionality — it’s possible to program them to color-code certain messages, to keep them on the server or to download them, etc.

Tablets and phones come with a mail app which is usually less feature-full, and normally does not save mail on the device, but otherwise works similarly.

Because they are just programs, without any knowledge of where our email is coming from, they have to be configured with the settings that tell them where to look for mail and where to send it.  These usually include:

  • user name
  • password
  • pop3/imap server (the “inbox” receiving computer)
  • pop3/imap port (which “door” to knock on on the receiving computer)
  • smtp server (the “outbox” sending computer)
  • smtp port (which “door” to knock on the sending computer)

Modern applications can often query the server for these settings, but if the program can’t detect them, a google search for  [ISP Name] email configuration.

Web Mail

Accessing email from a web browser is a popular option these days.  ISP’s generally send computer users to their web interface, which has the terrific advantage of requiring no configuration beyond knowing your user name and password.  Another is that it’s possible to access from any device, anywhere – your daughter’s phone, your mother’s computer, or the courtesy computer at the auto dealership.

How to create a Gmail Account

Everyday Tasks, performed in Gmail

Attach a photo

How to attach a photo to a Gmail email

How to attach a photo to a Gmail email (video)

Add an email correspondent as a contact

  1. open the email from the person you want to add
  2. hover over the email address until you see a box open which has a link that says add to contacts
  3. click the link

Group contacts

Create a group of contacts , send an email to that group (step by step text instructions)

Archive Old Emails  Gmail and some other clients offer an “archive” function, which permits users to remove mail they don’t need to see any more, but might wish to refer to in the future, from the inbox without deleting it altogether.  I’m a pretty heavy email user, and I archive everything — receipts from online vendors, chats with my sisters, sales pieces I’ll probably never look at again, because I like being able to search later for things I remember seeing once.  I have noticed that every time it looked as if I might be running out of storage space for email, Google  has generously handed me more.

Search Email  One of the nice things about the web interfaces for email is that they have very fast and powerful search engines.   Usually I just type a few of the words I know I am looking for — the author’s name, the subject, etc.  But there is also an “advanced” search facility using Boolean logic which can be used to pinpoint things more exactly, for those times when I want, say, that recipe from my sister Tina for cookies but not the chocolate chip one.

Video Chat

Google Duo  (Android and iOS phones and tablets)

Review of Google Duo

Tips for Using Google Duo

FaceTime (OSX, iOS [Apple] phones, tablets, computers)

How to make a FaceTime Call

Skype (Windows, OSX, Android, iOS phones, tablets, computers)

How to use Skype