Chapter 17: E-mail Basics
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© 2004, 1996 G. Edwin Lint
The Church Workers Handbook is filled with practical information that you may not have learned in Bible college or seminary. If you haven't already learned this information in the school of hard knocks, you need this series of blogs. This will be information for anyone who serves in any capacity in a church (from senior pastor up to janitor).
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Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 -- USA
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Chapter 17: E-mail Basics
Today, I am continuing a series of blogs based on my book Church Workers Handbook.
This book is available at the DiskBooks Electronic Publishing Free Downloads in pdf format.
If you wish to download the entire pdf file of 205 pages, click this link: Church Workers Handbook
The individual chapters are shown in the Table of Contents: [html format]
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This chapter of the Church Workers Handbook is written with Microsoft Outlook Express [OE] 6.0 e-mail browser in mind. You can visit the Microsoft Internet Explorer Home Page and download a free bundle that contains Internet Explorer [IE] 6.0 browser plus Outlook Express. However, many of these tips and pointers will work with an earlier version of OE and other e-mail browsers, also.
The information in this chapter is designed to help you become an efficient and effective user of e-mail by showing you some tips and pointers of mostly a cosmetic rather than a technical nature. For matters pertaining to obtaining the e-mail services of an Internet Service Provider [ISP] and getting connected, you need to select an ISP and get your technical information from that ISP.
E-mail is here to stay and is a key component of the digital revolution. You can learn to use e-mail even though you've never touched a typewriter. And, age is not a factor. My Mother-in-law is approaching 90 years of age and had never touched a typewriter before 2001. However, she now uses e-mail regularly to correspond to her family and you can, too. She may type slowly and likes to use fonts of at least 24 points, but her messages are clearly understandable.
My wife gave her parents a computer she had outgrown, thinking that her Dad would be the primary user, since he already knew how to type. However, Nancy's mother took an interest in the computer and soaked up everything we were able to teach her about the Internet and e-mail.
Being able to type is a definite plus when it comes to using e-mail with ease and efficiency. I have my Dad, Rev. J. Franklin Lint, to thank for my typing ability. I can still remember him going head to head with the high school principal back in the early 50s about my taking typing. The principal thought I didn't need typing because I was in the College Prep course and not the business course. Of course, Dad said, "He of all people needs to take typing because he's going to college." Of course Dad seldom last an argument that involved logic!
I started using e-mail in October, 1981. Since then, I have checked my e-mail every working day until I retired in December, 1994. Since retirement, I have checked my e-mail every day, including weekends and holidays. I check my e-mail the first thing when my computer boots up in the morning. And, the last thing I do before putting my computer to sleep in the evening is check my e-mail.
When I came home from the hospital in May 1996, following quintuple heart bypass surgery, the first thing I did was read my accumulated e-mail, and [with my wife's help] respond as needed.
Check your e-mail regularly.
Have you ever heard of anyone who didn't check their USPS mail box daily? I haven't! As soon as the mail delivery person walks/drives away, we're right there, checking to see what we got. Most often, it's catalogs and bills.
We need to give our e-mail this same level of diligent devotion. Check your e-mail at least once a day. I check mine several times a day.
Activate the Spell Checker.
For some strange reason, off is the default setting for the spell checker instead of on. Therefore, you have to take the proactive step of turning the spell checker on. Never assume you are a good enough typist or speller to ever send an e-mail without activating your spell checker. The OE spell checker is not as powerful as the one in your favorite word processor but it will catch all of your spelling errors if not your grammar errors.
1. Get the Inbox window on the screen.
2. Pull down the Tools menu and select Options.
3. Click the Spelling tab at the top of the screen.
4. Make sure the following options are checked: ? Always check spelling before sending ? Suggest replacements for misspelled works
Activate Rich Text Format [HTML]
Outlook Express gives you a choice of two typing formats: Plain Text and Rich Text with Plain Text being the default setting???
Plain Text Format. This is just plain vanilla with no chocolate and no sprinkles.
Rich text Format. This format enables you to format the text of your message with such things as bold, italics, and color. In fact, most of the text formatting features available in your word processor are available Most important is the ability to add pictures, both in line with your text or as attachments to your message.
To activate Rich Text format:
1. Open Outlook Express [OE] and get a new message on the screen.
2. Pull down the Format menu and make sure a black dot is showing beside Rich Text [html] and that a check is showing beside Send pictures with message.
3. If the black dot and check are not showing, select them successively and these features will be activated until you deactivate them at some future date.
Creating and Using a Signature
You can store a standard ending [signature] for your messages by following these steps:
1. Make sure you are in Outlook Express but that no message is open.
2. Type the text for your signature in a new e-mail message or any other text document. You may include a URL if you wish.
3. Copy your new signature to your clipboard. [Click this link if you need help with your clipboard.]
4. Pull down the Tools menu and select Options
5. Click on the Signatures tab
6. Click the New button.
7. Paste your new signature into the text box at the bottom
8. If you want this signature to always appear, click the Default button.
9. If you have several different signatures, you can rename with names such as home, work, church, etc.
10. When you want to use a signature, click on the Insert menu. If you only have one stored, it will appear automatically. If you have more than one, you will be able to select your signature from a little menu.
Use Your Address Book
Before you can use your OE address book, you need to understand some rules about e-mail addresses:
1. An e-mail address is composed of two basic parts separated by the @ symbol. The @ symbol is made by holding down the shift key and typing the numeral 2.
2. Usually all characters of an e-mail address are in lower case and there may be no spaces. Most people accept this rule and learn to read and write e-mail addresses according to it. But if you don't like to see yourname, you can use an underscore instead of a space: your_name
3. The information to the left of @ is how you wish to be identified [User Name] and the information to the right of @ is the Internet service that is providing you with e-mail. Here is my business e-mail address an example: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. E-mail is absolutely unforgiving of any typos. If you make a mistake in the way you type the address, your e-mail most likely will go nowhere except into the ozone layer.
The unforgiving nature of e-mail is the main reason for using your address book to both send messages and store addresses.
Adding addresses to your address book by typing:
1. Open OE without a message showing. You will see a button marked Addresses at the top of the screen. Or, when a message is showing, pull down the Tools menu and select Address Book
2. Click the New button and select New Contact. [OE will call the persons listed in the address book Contacts]
3. Fill in the name fields with how you want your mail to appear when your contact gets it. Let's say you are planning on writing to your parents. You could put Mr. and Mrs. John Doe in the name fields. Or you could make it sound more personal and put in Dad and Mother. I have chosen to put in Dad and Mother.
4. You will need to know the exact spelling of your parents' e-mail address. If your parents' e-mail address is email@example.com you, will carefully type this in the E-mail addresses field and double check it to make sure there is no typo.
5. Click Add and then click OK. You have just added your Dad and Mother to your address book. When you write to them from now on, just start typing Dad and Mother in the To: field. If you only have one address beginning with D, all you have to type is D. But if you have several starting with D [Dave, Donna, Dean, etc] you will have to keep typing Dad and Mother until you get to the point where OE recognizes Dad and Mother. In this example, you would have to type Dad before OE would take over and complete the addressing for you.
6. Remember: when you type in the address in the To: field, start slowly typing their real name, not firstname.lastname@example.org That is their e-mail address but OE translates Dad and Mother into email@example.com
7. Have faith and do it this way. It really works!
8. Now you are ready to add another address to your address book.
Special Note: If you are having difficulty getting your copy of OE to work as described on this page so far, try this: o Make sure you are at the OE Inbox page. o Pull down Tools and select Options o Click the Send tab o Read all the options at the Send tab and make sure everything is checked the way you want it to be.
Automatic additions to your address book:
So far, you have learned how to type an address for Dad and Mother. But, today you get an unexpected e-mail from Aunt Elizabeth. OE will automatically add her name to your address book if you reply to a message from her.
Today, you also get a message from a business associate that needs no reply. You can also add this address to your address book without typing it in:
1. Look at the message carefully. At the top of the left side of the message, you should see the word From: with this contact's name beside it.
2. Double click on your associate's name and OE will give the first screen of the Properties of this person's e-mail information.
3. Click on the Add to Address Book button and your business associate will be added to your book!
Creating Groups in your address book
A Group in an OE address book is a list of contacts that is saved under a certain name you create. If you find yourself sending the same e-mail message to people with common properties or characteristics, you need to create a group. For example, here are two groups I have in my address book. Ed Lint Family and Big Family. The first is made up of my wife, my four children, and any of the spouses who may have their own e-mail addresses. Big Family is everyone on Nancy's and my sides of the family that have e-mail addresses.
For example, if I want to write to my immediate family, I click in the To: field and start typing Ed Lint Family. At the present time, all I have to type is the E and OE finishes typing Ed Lint Family. I write my message and click Send. Bang! Everyone in our immediate family gets the message.
To create a Group, follow these steps:
1. Open your Address Book and select New and New Group.
2. Give your new group a short name. In this example we'll call it Family
3. Click Select Members
4. All contacts currently in your address book will be in the left column. Everyone in the Family group will appear in the right column.
5. Click a name in the left column to highlight it.
6. Click the Select button in the middle and it will appear in the right column as a member of your Family group.
7. If a contact appears in the Family group in error, click on it to select it and then press the Delete key on your keyboard.
8. When you are finished adding contacts to your Family group, click OK and you will be able to see your Family group in a Properties window. Look at it closely and make sure it's the way you want it to be.
9. If it is click OK and close out of OE before you try to use your new Group.
10. The next time you have a message to send to your whole family, type Family in the To: field and it will go to all you have placed in this group.
Family is used here as an example. You can have groups called such names as Teachers, Students, Board Members, Radio and TV Stations, etc, etc.
Sending and Saving Attachments
Attaching a file to your e-mail message is a handy and powerful way of moving information via the Internet. Evil people have learned it is just as easy to cause damage and mayhem so beware. We are assuming that the readers of this page want to learn about attachments for good reasons. To attach file[s] to an e-mail message:
1. Know where on your computer this file[s] is located. If you have this file buried in a folder several levels deep in your C drive, it may be a good idea to create a folder on the desktop for holding files to be attached.
2. Make sure the file you want to attach has been closed; if you are asked if you want to Save, the answer is YES.
3. Attach the file[s] before you write the message in the message area. I have made the mistake of clicking Send without making the attachment.
4. With the new message on the desktop, click the Attach button marked with a paper clip icon.
5. Outlook Express [OE] will open a window for you to browse to the location of the attachment.
6. If you are attaching more than one file from the same folder, hold down Control and then click each file to be attached. [When you hold down Control, your selections do not need to be consecutive.]
7. When your selection[s] has been made, click the Attach button.
8. Now your attachment[s] will show in the Attach window, along with the file name and size. The file name and size of the attachment will appear in a little window below Subject.
9. Now complete the rest of your e-mail message: To: CC: etc.
Many attachments you will just read and either file or delete. When you get attachment[s] you want to save, here's how to do it: " Right click on a file icon in the attachment window " If there is more than one attachment to this e-mail message, you may elect to Save All " Follow the prompts very carefully. I suggest you save first to the desktop and then you can file the attachments where they below.
Sending Digital Pictures [Using a digital camera]
Sending and receiving pictures via e-mail is a lot of fun. Of course, the digital camera has made this not only possible but relatively easy. [Picture phones are not covered in this chapter.]
A digital camera stores a computer file of a picture on a storage device inside the camera [often called a smart card.] These picture files are then downloaded to your computer where they may be printed, sent via e-mail, or inserted into a web page. I use an Olympus 2.1 megapixel camera. This suits my needs for sharing pictures with family and friends. I have two 8 mb smart cards that will hold 16 pictures each at the highest resolution. Once the pictures have been downloaded to my computer and stored on a zip drive, the smart cards may be used over and over again.
Digital cameras are hard on batteries so I always carry a spare set of batteries as well as a spare smart card.
Here's the process I use for sending pictures from my digital camera via e-mail:
1. Download the picture files from the camera's smart card to a folder on my desktop I call pix. Each picture file gets a default extension of .jpg
2. Use the software that came with the camera [Camedia] to resize each picture. At the highest resolution, the pictures come out of my camera as 1600 pixels wide. It is possible to send a picture this wide via e-mail but it will be so large, the recipient will have to scroll continually to see the whole thing.
3. When I first started sending pictures via e-mail, I made this mistake. My brother said he loved the pictures but there was just too much of them. That's what brothers are for.
4. By trial and error, I learned that 400 to 600 pixels as the greater dimension was just about right for sending my pictures via e-mail so that's what I always use. When I change the 1600 to 400, the other dimension changes proportionally.
5. I also use the Olympus Camedia software to brighten the picture, if it is rather dark and muddy.
6. The last step is to rename the picture with a filename that will mean something to me. Olympus gives each picture a numeral for a name but I want file names that tell me something about the content of the picture. For example, the next big event on our family's calendar is my granddaughter's birthday. Here name is Tori. So the file names for the pictures of Tori's party will look something like this:
toricake.jpg torigifts.jpg toricandles.jpg etc, etc, etc.
7. Compose an e-mail message for Big Family that tells about Tori's party and includes some pictures.
8. Make sure the insertion point is where I want the picture to appear.
9. Pull down the Insert menu and select Picture.
10. OE will give me a window where I can navigate to the folder that holds the pictures of Tori's party.
11. I'll select the picture I want, based on the descriptive file names I see, and bang!
12. The picture will appear in the message, right at the insertion point.
13. This process of inserting pictures in the text of your message is called the Inline method. You may also send pictures by using the Attach command. Your pictures will not appear in the text with the Attach method, but they will be displayed below the text.
There are a few warnings you need to know when sending pictures in your e-mail message: " Your ISP and the ISP of your recipients may have limits on the number of pictures you can send in a single message. " People who use freebe e-mail [service that is free] may be able get fewer pictures per message, or none at all. " People who have a dial-up connection to the Internet may need to take a walk around the block while your pictures download to their screen. If your recipients have a broadband connection to the Internet [Cable or DSL], the pictures will appear much more quickly.
Saving pictures: Many pictures you will just look at and either file or delete. When you get picture[s] you want to save, here's how to do it: " Right click on the picture you want to save. " Select Save picture as " OE will give you a Save window with the file name highlighted. While this file name is still selected, rename it with a name you will recognize in the future. " Make sure you see where OE will be saving the picture and browse to a new location if you want another one.
Use the BCC [Blind Carbon Copies] Address Field to Keep E-mail Addresses Confidential
When you send a message to a group [list], all the e-mail addresses in the group will be published for everyone to see. In this age of mass spamming, some folks don't care to have their e-mail address put on public display. Here's how you can use the BCC field to keep the e-mail address of your recipients completely confidential:
1. With an e-mail message on the screen, pull down the View menu and select All Headers. This will cause a check mark to appear beside All Headers. And the BCC field will be toggled on.
2. The BCC field will now appear between the CC and the Subject fields.
3. Type the Group name and any other addressing information in this new BCC field.
4. Leave the To: field blank when addressing your message.
5. When such a message is sent, Undisclosed Recipient: will appear in the To: field of everyone who gets your message.
6. T he BCC field will not even be seen by the recipients, maintaining complete confidentiality.
Forward with care Forwarding what you think are valuable messages is easy with e-mail Just click the Forward button and address your message as you would normally do. There is even a space for typing in any comments you may want to use as an introduction. However, when you forward the easy way, OE puts a hash mark [>] at the beginning of every line. If a message has been forwarded to you and you forward it to a bunch of new people, the hash marks are multiplied. The text becomes increasingly difficult to read until it's easier to click Delete then try to rid a forwarded message. Not so long ago, I received a forwarded message that had over 100 hash marks on it.
You need to be able to use your computer's clipboard to forward properly. Here's the right way to forward a message that will be as clean as when you first looked at it:
1. Click in the text box of the message you like.
2. Pull down Edit and choose Select All. [Or click Control-A]
3. This action will select [highlight] everything in the message box.
4. Pull down Edit and Select Copy. [Or click Control-C]
5. This action will copy the entire message that you like onto your computer's clipboard. [You always have to select something before you can copy it.]
6. Create a new message, add the recipient[s] and subject.
7. Click in the text box and make sure you see the cursor flashing there.
8. Pull down Edit and select Paste. [or click Control-V]
9. This action will paste the entire message that you like into your new message. [>>>No hash marks will be included!>>>]
10. Now use your address book to send this new, pristine message far and wide. There won't be a single hash mark in the whole carload!
Using Your Clipboard to Create a hypertext [clickable] link in an e-mail message or other document.
[Outlook Express is used in this example. If you are using another e-mail browser, the routines may be similar.] If you are typing a message to be e-mailed or included in your e-mail signature file, a URL [Universal Resource Locator] will become a clickable hot link if you click at it's end and press space bar once. In an e-mail message, a clickable URL usually will have a line under it. The Internet is very unforgiving when it comes to typographical errors so it is absolutely essential that you use your clipboard when copying and pasting a URL. I am either a good or an accurate typist, but never both at the same time.
Follow these steps when creating a hypertext link in the body of an e-mail message:
1. Make sure you are using Rich Text Format [HTML]. If you're not sure how to do this, click this link and you will go to a tutorial.
2. Get the target page [where you want your readers to go when they click the link] on the screen. Then select the target URL by clicking in the Address Window until the URL is highlighted. Then copy the URL to the clipboard.
3. Click in the message window at the point you want the new link to appear. Make sure you see a flashing cursor: this will be the insertion point for the Paste you are about to do in the next step.
4. Paste the URL from the clipboard into the message window at the insertion point.
5. Press space bar one time. Your URL will appear with a line under it and it will be a hypertext link. [See note about sending a test message in Step 9.]
6. Or-- you can imbed a URL into the Message Window by following steps
7, 8, and 9 below:
7. Select the text you want a reader to use as a hypertext link.
8. Click on the Create a Hypertext Link icon at the far right of the task bar. [This icon consists of a globe of the world and a link in a chain.] Outlook Express will give you a window into which you may paste your target URL. Warning: Make sure you have erased the fragment of a URL OE thinks you need to help you get started. When you first open this window, any helper text will be selected. Just paste your new URL on top of the selected text and your text will replace the helper text.
9. The text selected in step 7 will now be underlined and will be a hypertext link. [Although it will be underlined, it will not act like a hypertext link until you take the following step.] 10. Send a test message to yourself so you can click on your new link and make sure it takes a reader where you intended. Hypertext links are not activated until a message has been sent and received.
@: This symbol is part of every e-mail address and divides the sender's user name from the domain or ISP that is initiating the mail action. Here is an example: firstname.lastname@example.org
Activate: The process of making a software feature functional, often by placing a check-mark in a box.
Address book: The place in an e-mail browser where e-mail addresses are stored for quick use.
Attachments: Files or pictures that travel along with an e-mail message and may be viewed and saved by the recipient.
BCC: Blind carbon copies; when e-mail addresses are added in this field, the recipient will not be able to see where copies are being sent; when a group is placed in this field and no names are in the To: field, recipients will not be able to tell who else got a copy of the message.
Browse: Navigating through the folders and disks on your own computer to find a specific file[s].
Browser, e-mail: A software program designed to send and read e-mail messages. Outlook Express [OE] is the e-mail browser discussed in this chapter.
CC: Carbon copies; addresses placed in this field will get copies of this message; recipients will be able to see the e-mail addresses placed in this field.
Clipboard: A storage segment in the memory of your computer for temporary storage of data during the process of copy, cut, and paste.
Compose: The act of writing an e-mail message with a browser.
Contact: OE calls the names in your address book Contacts.
Default: The settings of software as the user first sees it before making any changes.
Delete: The act of erasing e-mail; when the delete key on the keyboard is pressed while data or objects are selected, they will disappear.
Dial-up connection: Access to the Internet via a phone line and a modem.
Digital pictures: Pictures taken by a digital camera and stored as computer files inside the memory of the camera; such pictures are usually downloaded to a computer where they can be used in a variety of way, including inserting in e-mail messages.
E-mail: Electronic mail that travels over the Internet and may be read and sent via an e-mail browser.
Forward: Sending an e-mail message to one or more other e-mail addresses.
Group: A list of e-mail addresses that share a common interest, such as: family, coworkers, customers, etc.
Hash mark: The mark [<] the e-mail browser puts in the left margin of a message when it is forwarded. Messages that are forwarded repeatedly will become unsightly with accumulated hash marks.
Hyperlink: Text with an embedded URL.
Inbox: The location in an e-mail browser where incoming e-mail is first seen.
ISP: Internet Service Provider. EarthLink and America on Line [AOL] are ISPs.
Jpg: The extension that must be at the end of a Windows jpeg photo filename. Example: picture.jpg
Megapixel: A measurement to show the resolution capability of a digital camera, as in: 2.1 Megapixels.
Members: The addresses in a specific group in your address book.
Message window: The large text block where you type an e-mail message.
Name fields: The place in your address book where you type the first, middle, and last names of your contacts.
Options: This is a selection of the Tools menu that lets you choose the various features available for OE.
Outlook Express [OE]: The free e-mail browser provided by Microsoft; usually downloaded as a free bundle, along with Internet Explorer, from the Microsoft home page.
Pixel: A pixel (short for "picture element") is one of thousands of tiny spots in a grid on a display screen or printed sheet. These spots, or blocks, are individually colored in order to show images on computer screens, and represent the smallest elements that may be manipulated to create graphics. © Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. "Pixel," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000. © 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Properties: The characteristics of a contact in your address book.
Rename: Changing the file name of a picture from a series of numerals to a meaningful word.
Resolution: The degree to which a digital picture looks crisp and sharp.
Rich Text Format [HTML]: In OE, this is the ability to format text in much the way you would do with a word processor. The opposite of Plain Text.
Scrolling: When an image is too large for the screen, scroll bars appear at the edges of the screen that let you move the image so you can see all of it.
Select: Highlighting text or an object so the computer can work with this selection in some way.
Send: The button on your e-mail browser that lets you send an e-mail message on it's way.
Smart card: A memory device inside a digital camera that stores the jpg files that make up pictures. An 8 mb card will hold about 16 picture at high resolution.
Subject: The field where you give a short description of the contents of your e-mail message. It's considered poor form to leave it blank or always use Hi as your subject.
Tab: The selections across the top of a screen where there are several submenus to choose from. In OE, the Options screen has numerous tabs such as: Spelling, Read, Send, etc.
To: The field where you type the e-mail address of the recipients of your message; multiple addresses may be placed in this field, separated by a semicolon; OE will complete an e-mail address as soon as you type enough characters to make it unique for all the contacts in your address book.
Tools: One of the menus at the top of the Inbox screen of OE.