Basic Skills
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Using Outlook Express

Click on the subject you want to read, and the text will open up. If you want to hide it again to make room for another subject just click again and it will close up.

+The program:

Look on your desktop for the above icon. Double click on it and your email program (for some reason actually known as an email client!) Outlook Express will open up. Spend a little time looking at all the options along the top.

Clicking anything on the very top line will open up a menu of options. You can customise your own Outlook Express using these - I do not suggest that you start changing things now but exploring everything is a good idea.

The icons on the next row are the ones you will be using all the time.

+Sending mail

To create a new email you click on the button Create Mail (I think some older versions call it New Message) and a fresh email will open up. On the From line you will see your own email address. On the next line you enter the address of the person TO whom you want to write. The next line is CC which stands for carbon copy - if you send an email to your neighbour about his barking dog you make want to send a copy of this email to your lawyer! The next line is BCC - blind carbon copy. Any address you enter there will receive the email but the other recipients will not know about it. So you might send your sister copies of this email to your neighbour and your lawyer so that she knows what is happening but THEY will not know that you have told her! (You can put several addresses in each line....)

Then there is the subject line - it can be a formal heading or a Hi! or whatever. Then you come to the body of the email, and that is where you write your message. When you have written it you press the Send button in the top right hand corner and that is it!

+Receiving mail:

Your Outlook Express may be set up to receive mail every time you connect. It may also be set to look for new mail every 5 minutes, every 30 minutes, or whatever. But you can look for mail any time by pressing the Send/Receive button.

The email comes into your Inbox, Click on the Inbox and you will see what messages you have there.

Then click on the heading of the one you want to read, and you will see the contents of it in the panel below.
Once you have read it you can delete it, reply to it, forward it to someone else, or leave it to deal with later.


If you wish to reply to the email you may simply click on Reply and it will automatically be addressed to the sender. The text of his message will still be present in the email. Type in your message and then delete the words of the original unless there is a reason for keeping them in. If you are having a battle with your ISP you may want to keep the whole string of replies from each of you so that the whole story is there, but for personal emails it is usually better to delete the original message to make the email neater. You can leave the Subject as it is so that they know what you are replying to. Please refer to Netiquette about cleaning up emails.

Reply All:

Be a bit cautious about using Reply All. If you use that button, it will send your email to all the people to whom the original was addressed. For instance if a joke was sent by Mary to 20 people as well as you, if you hit Reply All your reply will go to her and all the others too!


If you receive an interesting email that you wish to forward, you can hit the forward button and simply put in the new address and send it. But.... please see the Netiquette item about cleaning up emails - nobody likes to get something that has >>>>>>>>> all down the side. An easier way of sending things on is to copy them into a clean email form instead of forwarding.

+Address book:

Under Tools/options/send you can set your email up to add people to your address book automatically when you reply to them. Or you can open the address book, click on New/new contact and type in the details. A third way of adding a name to the address book is to right click on the senders name of an open incoming email, and on the menu choose Add sender to Address Book. Then when you need to address it an email to someone who is in your address book you only need to type the first few letters into the To line and it will guess at the rest. Or you can click on To or CC or BCC and the address book will come up for you to choose names from.

+Attachments - sending:

If you want to send an attachment with an email you go to Insert at the top of the form, and choose File attachment. Browse to find the item you want to attach, click on it to highlight it, and click Attach. You can attach things like Word documents, photos, pictures of any kind, video clips or programs. Two words of caution - if the file is large, it takes a while to download at the other end, so it is polite to make sure the recipient is happy to accept it. And email attachments can introduce viruses - it is best to warn people that you are about to send something so that they know it really is from you. Read the Internet Survival Skills mentioned at the righthand side of the first page to find out more.

+Attachments - receiving:

Be very cautions about accepting any attachment that arrives unexpectedly, even if you know the sender..... it could be a virus simply sending itself from the sender's address book without his knowledge.

You will know the email has an attachment because there will be a "paperclip" next to it - look at Receiving mail earlier on this page and you will see that the email from John S Hughes has an attachment..... I look to see what the attachment is and save it to open it later.... a good place to save things is your desktop because they are easy to find there.

+Rich Text:

If you want to make your email more interesting, you can change the font, the colour, the size of the text. You can print words in bold, you can add backgrounds and pictures and add background sound. In order to do this, open an email and go to Format and choose "rich text" from the menu. You will see at once that there is an extra bar across the middle with all sorts of options on it. Click each one to see what you can do...
If you want to add a background colour or picture go back to the format menu and choose what you want there.

Just remember that a "rich text" email is much "heavier" than a plain one, and will take longer to load at the other end.

You may already have your email set up to be "rich text" by default.

+Making a new folder:

Your email has an inbox, outbox, deleted items folder etc. but you can create as many as you like. I find it easier to organise my mail if I put it in separate folders. I have folders called Must Read Later, and Unsubscribe Info, and Family letters, and find it useful to file things away in separate folders.

There's an easy way to make a new folder - just right click on any folder, click New Folder, name it, and the new folder will show up under your old folder. To make a whole new folder under 'Local Folders', Right-click on 'Local Folders' and name it -- it will be there. You can also click and drag any folder into any other folder

Then you can move messages into the new folders to save them there - right click on the message and choose "move to..." from the menu. Remember I told you there were lots of options available if you right click!

+Message Rules

I am just going to mention message rules, without giving you detailed instructions. If you go to Tools, Message Rules, Mail, you will be able to set up rules for your email to follow. You can state the email from a certain person should be deleted on the server witout even coming into your computer, you can choose that some senders' mail should be highlighted in green or that anything with a certain word in the subject line should be placed not in your inbox but in a folder that you specify. I get a great deal of email and I set my rules to sort it all into several different folders so that it is not all jumbled up with my personal mail. My inbox has several other folders within it - have a look -

Click the link for the Internet at the left and read on...