How do I decide between webmail and doing it offline?
I don't think there's much choice nowadays. For personal
emails the idea of locking them away on one computer just seems weird
when you want to send and receive emails on your phone and tablet as
well as computers. So it makes sense to entrust your emails to the
cloud and accept that in return for a 'free' email service Google,
Yahoo and Microsoft are going to inspect the contents of our emails and
try to sell us stuff on the basis of what they find. Although Microsoft
now insist they don't. There are also paid email services that should
be less intrusive.
There are security issues - if you log in at some internet
cafe you might then find your email account hijacked by someone
demanding a ransom to hand it back or sending "emergency, send cash to
me in Phuket" emails to your friends. I use quite complex passwords and
while logging in somewhere insecure I keep clicking on other parts of
the login web page and typing extra characters. The browser throws
these away but a keylogger will see them. So if your password is
34MyPass%! and you click away a couple of times and type extra
characters the keylogger might record 1234MyNewPass%!$ as your
password. When the criminals try that it won't work and they'll simply
move on to the next stolen password. So webmail is superb if you keep
secure, but there's always a lurking sense of unease - what if they suddenly refuse to
let you log in or even go bust? At least I now use Gmail's 2 step verification
so I need to put in a code texted to my phone if I log in on a new computer.
I use gmail for two different accounts (the gmail one
plus the one linked to my web hosting account) and all our emailing is
In that diagram Outlook no longer sends nor receives emails - it is
purely for looking at ancient emails (and used very rarely). Our yahoo webmail
is just used as a secondary account for newsletters etc. Our Gmail
account is the interesting one. It collects all incoming mail for our Gmail and chericbaker.co.uk
accounts into one Inbox (but you can see which account each email was
sent to). All emails we do not delete are left indefinitely in Gmail so
it works well hooking a smartphone or tablet to the Gmail account using
IMAP. When sending mail it defaults to the chericbaker.co.uk
account in the from box but there's a dropdown to let you send it from
So which is the best webmail?
Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook.com (was Hotmail) are the obvious top
three. All free. Strange that Apple hasn't had a real go at this market. Here's the yahoo interface:
I've avoided Hotmail since it used to throw away sent mail in the old
days. But lots of people seem happy with it. Its anti spam measures can
be rather severe, though - I've been bounced several times sending mail
to hotmail accounts and apparently they'll sometimes blacklist whole
ISPs if they get spam from any of their users. It's now pretty easy to use and can even handle
conversations like gmail. I believe it's better than gmail with
I do have a Gmail account and find it pretty easy to use. It also has a
very accurate spam filter as I sometimes get waves of spam on that account (used to be 100+
per day, more like 5 now). It also allows IMAP synchronisation with a local email
client, eg a smartphone or tablet.
Gmail's very strong on searching your emails and you can assign one or
more labels of your choice to each email. Then click on a label, say
Holidays, and you'll only see emails tagged as holiday-related. When
you Archive emails they disappear from your Inbox but are still there
when you click on All mail or do a search. Best of all is the way gmail
handles 'conversations'. If you send someone an email then they reply
to it then you reply back and so on, most email systems will litter
your Inbox and Sent folders with multiple versions of the email and
it's very hard to know if the latest is in Sent or Inbox. Gmail does it
so much better - as long as the subject and from/to don't change it
shows just a single version of the email and whether you look in Sent
or Inbox you see the same complete, up to date version. Brilliant! In
the screengrab on the right the numbers in brackets show how many back
and forth emails there are in the 'conversation'. In practice it means
you rarely have to look at Sent emails.
Gmail is the one to choose (as at least one of your email
accounts) if you go for an Android smartphone and/or tablet. As soon as
you hook one to your Gmail account everything works nicely; maps, Play
I closed a yahoo account a while back as it got too much spam but now
I've got one again, just as a spare email account for signing up to
shopping sites etc. No spam yet and the interface is quite good (but
not as good as gmail).
The email account to avoid is the one offered by your broadband
supplier - use it and that is a big barrier to moving to a different
supplier in future. I've got a Plusnet email account but I haven't looked
at it for over two years. Use Gmail or Outlook or yahoo and moving ISP or to a new
computer is really simple.
Why do I get spam?
The spammers are always looking out for genuine email addresses to
plague. They get addresses from all over the place:
- robots search the web for tell-tale @ signs and
automatically harvest the email addresses they find
- malware might invade the computer of someone with your
email in their address list
- the spammers may break into a company's systems and steal
customer email details (electronically or by bribing an employee)
So you haven't done anything wrong or stupid by getting spammed. If your email
system filters spams effectively you can live with it. If not you can
always abandon the email account and open a new one - but you'll still
get contacts trying to use the dead one years later.
The screenshot below shows how little spam we get nowadays, with much of it
so stupid that they'll send the same message several times from different spoof
addresses within an hour or so.
How do you insert a picture in an email?
You can send pictures as attachments. Basically it's a matter of not
inflicting huge files on friends so you need to find a way of shrinking
the images before sending them. I use Faststone Viewer:
In Gmail you can insert pictures directly into the
text of the email. That keeps the email very small indeed - images are
just transmitted at screen resolution. How the images display on
receipt varies by email system. Gmail shows them very well.
Gmail doesn't do anything to help resize images you attach - I believe some other email services (eg Outlook?) are
better at this.
How do I create a pdf to save or email?
A pdf displays well on just about any device, is often far more compact
than a Word document with images in it and is hard for most people to
alter. So it's just to be viewed and/or printed it's much better to
email a pdf than a Word document (which tends to display badly as an
attachment, which may be insecure and you should not in any case assume that everyone can view it).
Open/Libre Office can export pdfs and so can Office 2007 and 2010 if you
download the plugin. Otherwises
and can create pdfs from anything you can print. I
use it a lot to make pdf copies of important emails. For example, I'll
create a pdf of an email with hosting details and passwords in a folder
under a website on my local drive. Then when I want to check something
a year later it's much easier looking in a local Hosting & domain
details folder than looking for some old email. Making pdf copies of
important emails means I'm much less dependent on having access to old
emails - I rarely need to look at any over a month old.