Technology Tip of the Month

December 1998: Email Basics

by Deborah Healey

We increasingly count on using email to communicate with faculty, staff, and students. Our students get an email address upon arrival at the university, and we offer some introductory sessions on using email.

With more and more teachers requiring students to submit their homework via email, however, just the introductory session may not be enough. Here are a few email lessons that I've used with faculty and students that you may find useful. As always, you are welcome to reproduce and use this page for educational purposes, with appropriate citation.

General Comments

Our students have several free programs they can use: the text-format Pine and the graphical Eudora 1.5, MailDrop, Netscape Mail, and different web-based mail programs, such as Hotmail. Pine is available on every computer at OSU, so it's usually where we begin. We provide copies of Eudora 1.5 on disk to our short-term students who don't have regular computer center accounts. (Eudora 1.5 is the only version that fits on a disk -- later versions are too big.) MailDrop is a wonderful alternative to Pine and is designed to work well in an environment where Pine is used.

Netscape Mail is a fallback method. Because students can easily make the mistake of leaving Netscape configured to automatically download their personal mail to the next person who opens the Netscape mailbox, we tend to discourage Netscape use for email. Many students also have Hotmail accounts or other web-based free accounts.

Screen shots are very useful. See the April 1996 Tech Tip, Using Screen Shots, for information about capturing images from the computer screen.

Configuring the program may include choosing a new password right away (Pine and MailDrop), adding the name of the server (Eudora, Netscape Mail), selecting POP vs. IMAP protocol (Netscape Mail), and selecting whether to download messages or leave them on the server (Eudora, Netscape Mail). The details will vary with the software you are using. You will need to provide this information to students, preferably in the form of a handout they can look at while they are working through the program.

Starting your mail program

Username and password

How to configure the program

Reading mail

The inbox

Deleting messages

Sending mail


Replying to a message

Creating a new message


  1. Choose Compose (Pine) or New message (Eudora, Netscape Mail).
  2. Ask the two people next to you for their email address. Write it in the TO: space. Use a semicolon (;) to separate the addresses.
  3. In the Subject: line, write About and your name (About Miyako, for example).
  4. In the message, tell your classmates a little bit about yourself, such as where you are from and some hobbies.
  5. Send the message.

Look at your Inbox to see if you have any new messages. If you are using Eudora, click on Get messages to check your messages. When you get a message, open it by pressing Return (Pine) or double-clicking on it. Read the message, then choose Reply from the menu.

Type your reply to the message, then Send the message.

Sending homework

Do your homework in the word-processor first so that you can check the spelling. When you're ready, select all, copy, and paste your homework into the email program.

If you sent the message once and you want to send it again, look to see if the email program has a place where it keeps the mail you sent. It's often called "sent mail" or "out." You can open that message, make any needed changes, and send it again.

Unless the teacher tells you to do attachments, it's best not to use them.


All email programs let you create an address book with people's email addresses in it. Sometimes it's called an Address Book, sometimes Nicknames.

All email programs let you sort messages and store them in different folders. This makes it easier to find the information you need.

See information about using Nicknames and organizing mail in Eudora.

See Other tech tips

If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 26 June, 2009