How do I decide between webmail and doing it offline?
I don't think there's really a 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 the
provider might be inspecting our mail then trying to sell us stuff on the
basis of what they find.
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 2 step
verification (Gmail and Yahoo) 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 web based:
In that diagram 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 for laptops and PCs. All free. Strange that Apple hasn't had a real
go at this market, although they are big on phones and tablets. Here's
the yahoo interface:
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 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, many 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. 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. But the 'conversatiopns' can get pretty unweildy if you send
a 'which date?' sort of email to a group and people ping 40 emails back and
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 Store etc.
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 years. Use Gmail or Outlook or iCloud Mail 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 small. 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. But some over-squash images.
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).
Libre Office can export pdfs as can modern versions of Office. Otherwise
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
web 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.