(updated 12/12/2012)

E-mail (or email) - electronic mail...

Email us...

To email us at PCN, click here...

Get email anywhere...

It is possible to get your POP email from places other than your provider, and on computers other than your own.

The considerable problem of viruses...

Email is by far the most common way for viruses to propagate. Virus creators know that email users are often unsophisticated, and will forward their viruses without knowing when sending out mass email. Virus creators also write their viruses in such a way that they will propagate themselves using a recipient's email-handling program and email address book. To protect yourself, see all of the tech articles in the virus section of this page, and obey the rules of etiquette for email outlined below...

Ever wonder how your email address got on that $%&*@ mailing list??

Email address harvesters...

There are programs that can "harvest" your email address by sending queries to email servers to see if email will be accepted at a given address if sent. This may account for how you got on a mailing list without your knowledge or permission. Here is an example or two...

"Easy Email Searcher (EES) is a powerful email finder software for your email marketing. It can directly search email addresses from mail servers. It can verify all user names that you specify on the mail server.Using this software, you can get 100,000 email addresses in only one hour. It is a quite good software for email marketing. Easy Email Searcher is an email address searcher and bulk e-mail sender. It can verify more than 5500 email addresses per minute at only 56Kbps speed. It even allows you send email to valid email addresses while searching. You can save the searching progress and load it to resume work at your convenience. All you need to do is just input an email address, and press the "Search" button."

"1st Email Address Harvester 2002 is a software designed to directly search email addresses from mail servers. It can verify all user names that you specify on the mail server.The program tries to connect with a special SMTP server and simulates sending the message. It does not come to the message sending, in fact, it disconnects as soon as mail server informs that this address exists or not. Using this software, you can get lots of email addresses from any email server, such as hotmail.com, aol.com, etc., on the fly."


This software lives in secret on your PC like a virus, but its purpose is not to harm your files, but to glean information from them. Spyware can be received via email like a virus, or it can be part of some other seemingly innocuous program, perhaps one that was downloaded as shareware or freeware. When spyware finds information it seeks on your PC it "reports" to its originator, who in turn then uses it. Information considered "useful" would be email lists, addresses, finance account info, etc.


A "spambot" is a piece of software, a program that someone has written. A spambot scans web pages for two things: hyperlinks and email addresses. It stores the email addresses to use as targets for spam, and follows any hyperlinks to other web pages - repeating the process. Most spambots are a part of a larger program, allowing them to send out the spam to email addresses as it finds them. Others merely store the email addresses for later use.

"Why do I get SO MUCH spam?"

Try this website for a good explanation of the myths and realities of how spammers get your email address and use it...

Anti-spam programs...

Anti-spam programs are starting to become prevalent. The idea is to check your email at the server prior to your downloading it. Spam is identified by "rules" - like messages not sent specifically to you, messages in all caps, messages containing specific words, messages from known spammers, etc. You are able to toggle the inherent rules, and add your own rules, and you will have a "blacklist" and a "whitelist" to manage.

Once a spam message is identified, you have the option of downloading it, or deleting or bouncing it. After that happens, you invoke your email program and get your email as usual. (Its automatic feature must be turned off so the email sits on the server until checked.)

For many, the extra step of de-spamming the incoming email will be worthwhile. A decent (and presently free) anti-spam program is Mailwasher, available here...

Enhancing email...

Investigate some of the things you can easily do to your e-mails to make them more comprehensible and interesting, like...

Choosing an impactful font...

You may also use punctuation to express your emotional self.

More on "emoticons" and abbreviating yourself...

Inserting horizontal lines...

Inserting tables...

Film Name Director Year Released
Citizen Kane Orson Welles 1941
Casablanca Michael Curtiz 1942
The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola 1972
Gone With The Wind Victor Fleming 1939
Lawrence of Arabia David Lean 1962
The Wizard of Oz Victor Fleming 1939
The Graduate Mike Nichols 1967
On The Waterfront Elia Kazan 1954
Schindler's List Steven Spielberg 1993
Singin' In The Rain Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly 1952

(American Film Institute)

Inserting images...

Images of any kind can be inserted into your e-mail to make them more informative and appealing. You do this by right-clicking any image you come across and selecting the option of saving it to your hard drive as an image file. To place it in your e-mail, get your cursor to the place in your message where you want to put it by hitting ENTER to go down and SPACE or TAB to go across. Then select INSERT and IMAGE from the composition menus, CHOOSE FILE to identify the image and APPLY to put it into your e-mail.

(low-res 288 x 216 pixel image)

Actual size and quality of the image will affect download time for the message, so don't make them too big. If the image is on the web, supply the address instead. If not, send the image as a file attachment, so you can compress it. If you want the image to appear in the body of the message, choose a size that should fit in most user's windows. A typical display setting is 800 x 600. If you send an image that is 1200 pixels wide, it will spill off the screen and be hard to see. A good viewing size for a 4" x 6" photograph would be actual size at 96 DPI (dots per inch). The image would take up 576 pixels of the available 800 pixels in width, and would fit nicely on screen.

Images can also be made into backgrounds, with text overtop (which might be going a bit too far).

Sending website urls...

When you are e-mailing a website address, try to use COPY and PASTE to grab and insert the address. If you must type it in, add http:// in front of what you type in, so the address becomes something that your recipient can click on. See below, how the "www" line is not underlined and active, but the "http" line is. Your recipient can simply click on the address, go to the site, then bookmark the address if they like it, thereby keeping it without ever having to type it in themselves.

www1.sympatico.ca (This line is inactive.)

http://www1.sympatico.ca (This line is active - a hyperlink.)

You can send links like this also... Sympatico where the full address is a property, but is hidden.

Attaching files...

Learn to use WINZIP to compress files into self-extracting .EXEs, so the recipient can handle them easily. http://www.winzip.com

Attachment- and URL-forwarding etiquette...

There is some etiquette in sending attachments with your email. It makes sense to only send attachments that can be viewed at the recipient's end. Do not send WORD docs, for example, to those who do not use MS Word. MS Word is not a universally-available program to computer users. Do not send large files to those with only dial-up connections - ask them first if they want the file, and consider delivering it in a format other than email (like a floppy disk or CD by post). Do not send graphic files unless you know that the recipient has a graphics program that can handle your chosen format.

For those using MS Word, there are also some things to know about the Word docs that you send - for example, that previous versions of a Word doc may be hidden in the file, or that user and author info is also in there. For more information on this, please read this article by Jeff Goldberg...

When sending links to Internet sites, copy the URL while at the site of interest, rather than type it out (less chance of an error). Also, check the URL to see if the link you send will actually work - sometimes links are built around your particular use of a site at a given moment, so others will not get the information you got while there.

Attaching personal cards, or signatures...

If you would like to close out your email with your name, address, phone number, etc. or some graphic, you can do so. See Netscape help, look up personal cards, for best description of how to do this. See Outlook (Express) help for a description on how to include signatures in your Outlook email.

Under Options...

...there are also some interesting things you can do, like signing the message, or encrypting the message, or asking for a receipt.

Nothing the matter with plain text...

When sending email, there is nothing the matter with plain text. Many recipients appreciate the quickness receiving and displaying a plain-text message. No backgrounds, no smileys, no colour, no frilly fonts - the words speak for themselves. Plain text is easy to assimilate.

As a recipient, I have the option to view all email in "text only" format, which means that any underlying scripts cannot run, and any graphics are not shown. Therefore, email laden with viruses or other malicious scripts cannot act and unwanted images are not displayed.

Colour, graphics, and images have their place though. Plain-text email can be (by definition) quite plain.

If you receive a large number of nuisance email, toggling the setting may be the most sensible thing. To do so, when in Outlook Express, click on Tools > Options, choose the Read tab, and check (or uncheck) the line "Read all messages in plain text" as needed. It may be wise to toggle this feature on before downloading and reading new email, then toggle the feature off again when it is desirable to view an email's full content.

Blind carbon copy (BCC:)...

People love to forward email they receive - it's easy, friendly, shows interest, passes office time, etc. and others do like to receive them. Jokes of the day, humourous links, life lessons, shopping tips, virus warnings - you know the types. Please don't send/forward this kind of email to me. They will inevitably lead to virus transmission and my winding up on junk email lists.

When sending an e-mail to several recipients at once, you should use Bcc: (blind carbon copy) addressing, so your recipient doesn't get a list of all the other people you just sent this exact same email to.

In Outlook Express, it is not readily apparent how to use Bcc: because, when addressing an email, the Bcc: is not an immediately available option. The "Create Mail" screen looks like this...

To get at the Bcc: option, click on To: and the Address Book will open up, revealing the three options for addressing - To:, Cc:, and Bcc:. Highlight a recipient in the list and click on the appropriate button to address the email.


If you are forwarding something, cut and paste the info into a new message, so you don't get this effect...

> > > > text

> > > > more text

> > > > more text

(which results from a layer of > being added by the system for each time the email was forwarded).

If the e-mail contains an attachment, save the attachment to some place on your hard drive, then freshly attach it to the new e-mail. If you can send a hyperlink instead of content, do that instead.

This editing business is work to some, but it is simply etiquette to me.

You can see how easily information does get forwarded - look at some of the emails you receive from others and you will see addresses of people you don't know - these people are receiving your email address, too. To prevent your email address from being forwarded, you must ask specifically that your recipient not forward your email, and that they Bcc: you when they send email to you.

If you should receive email with multiple recipients shown in it, contact the sender and ask that you not be included in mass email. If the sender persists, or forgets, contact the sender and issue a stern warning. If you still get email from senders like this, tell them to piss off.

Can't receive attachments, "OE has blocked..."

If Outlook Express has been updated to the latest version, a checkbox that concerns the opening of potentially harmful email has probably been toggled on without you knowing it. Look for this screen in Outlook Express options and uncheck the "Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened" option....

Blocking senders, Email Message Rules...

A sender of unwanted email can be put on a blocked list that you create and maintain for yourself. If you have an unwanted email, select it, then click on Message > Block Sender. The sender's name will be added to the list, and any other email from this person can be deleted en masse from your folders at this time.

To view the Blocked Senders List, click on Tools > Message Rules > Blocked Senders List. Senders can be input here directly, or removed from the list, as desired.

Rules for the acceptance or rejection of email can also be created. It may not be worth the effort though, unless you receive a great amount of email. If you are just receiving a few spam per day, it may be simplest to just delete them. Click on Tools > Message Rules > Mail to see the applicable logic.

An excellent alternative to using OE to manage incoming messages is the Mailwasher program. To learn more, follow this link and look for Mailwasher in the list of useful downloadable programs.

Compacting email folders, backing up email...

Compacting Your Email

Outlook Express (OE) stores email on the hard drive of your PC in database files with the extension .dbx. These files are loosely managed, and can substantially grow in size even if you are successfully deleting email from your folders and you are emptying the contents of your "Deleted Items" folder, too.

There is a process in OE called "compacting", that will greatly reduce the size of these files and improve the overall performance of the program. OE does not compact email well by default. It is a good idea to do this manually to make sure that your email database files are checked for consistency and thoroughly cleaned.

To compact your email, open OE, click on File > Folder > Compact All Folders.

Caution - as with running any process on a computer, there are risks. Prior to performing the maintenance, you may wish to make a temporary folder into which you can drag-and-drop copies of any important email you have so it doesn't get accidentally lost in the cleanup. Another recommendation is to be offline, so no new email comes into the system and interrupts or corrupts the compacting process.

When compacting, don't interrupt the process yourself either - let the task run through until it is complete. Afterwards, restart OE and check to see that the folders and email you remember are undisturbed. If all is well, delete the temporary files you may have prudently created and move forward.

To get an idea of how much space you are using, read the remainder of this article first, find your .dbx file folder using Windows Explorer, right-click on the folder and choose Properties. The size of the folder will be shown. To see how much space you recover, compare the size of the folder before and after the compaction.

Backing Up Your Email

You can make a backup of your email in a couple of different ways.

The first way is simply a drag-and-drop technique. Open OE and Windows Explorer at the same time. Resize and reposition their windows until you can view both together. Create an organized folder structure to receive the mail from OE, then drag-and-drop email you wish to protect from OE to the appropriate folder.

The second way is to locate the OE .dbx file set for your user profile and copy them to a second location. To locate the files, use the Windows Explorer search function to find files like this - *.dbx. (If more than one location contains .dbx file sets, this may be due to multiple users. Identify the correct set by examining the full path and by comparing the folders found to those in OE.) Once found, copy the .dbx files to another location. Be sure that OE is not running at the time, or you may have errors.

Here is the path to OE on this XP computer...

Dragged-and-dropped email will need to be dragged-and-dropped in reverse to be restored. Copied .dbx files would have to be restored using the OE import function (File > Import > Messages, of type Outlook Express 6, from a known OE6 store directory). Both techniques may overwrite existing email and the existing folder structure within OE, so some care must be taken.

Moving Your Email

Often the default folder for keeping a user's email cannot be readily found. Different versions of Windows and different versions of OE, and different operating system installation and upgrade methods can cause the folders to be located in any one of several places. If you wish to move the location to a place of your choosing, you can do so. In OE6, click on Tools > Options > Maintenance > Store Folder > Change, then browse to an alternative location. OE will move the files after it has been fully re-started.

Changing the location to be a sub-folder of your My Documents folder can mean that these files will get backed up automatically if you are backing up your My Documents folder in another routine.


You may find that some of the .dbx files you have were for OE folders that you no longer have or use. These old .dbx files can be deleted, but check OE afterwards to see if there are any problems finding what you think should be there. If there are no problems, empty the Recycle Bin to complete the file deletion.

Backing up your Address Book...

To make a copy of your Address Book, open it from within OE by clicking Tools > Address Book. Click on File > Export > Address Book (WAB), then choose an appropriate file name and destination folder.

Tip... a good file name in this case would include the date - like "05-06-15 - Address Book.wab", for example. (Dates entered like this will sort in correct order chronologically, when sorted alphanumerically.) A good location would be your My Documents folder, and a second good location would be removable media, like a simple floppy disk.

OE rules! An out-of-office response...

When you will be away, it may be useful to respond to an email sender that you have received their email and will respond at a later date. In Outlook Express, you need to create a rule whereby this response will occur when an email is received.

To do so, follow these steps...

Step 1) create a text file that will contain the reply and save it in a handy location.

(Open a data folder of your choice. (I chose my C:\000 folder.) Right-click on an open area in the window and choose New > Text Document. A file will be created, and the name will be ready for editing. Overtype the name New Text Document.txt and rename the file to be something like out-of-office-response.txt. Double-click the file to open it, and create the text that you would like to see sent in reply. Save the file.)

Step 2) In Outlook Express (OE), click on Message > Creat Rule From Message, and open this window (below). Choose the condition "For all messages", and the action "Reply with message". Once you do, you will be able to proceed to browse for and select the text file you created in Step 1.

Note that you will have to change the "Files of type:" to be *.txt to see the file you have created. See below.

Once your rule is in place, your Outlook Express must be running and be able to receive email for this to work. In other words, you must leave the computer running and connected to the Internet while you are away.

To view the rules you make, and toggle them on and off, click on Tools > Message Rules > Mail. Toggle the rule by checking (or unchecking) the checkbox beside the rule.

Test the process and double-check your reply text so you don't confusion while you are away.

Messages on server...

When using Internet email services like Yahoo and Hotmail, the email never actually resides on your PC - you are only viewing it - hence these email accounts are far less likely to cause your PC harm.

When using Internet access to view email accounts from providers like Sympatico and Rogers, the security is the same as an Internet email service.

But, for most of us, when using Outlook Express to access an email account, the email does get downloaded to your PC. Having an updated and active anti-virus program is critical in defending your PC from such email virus threats.

If Outlook Express is set up to leave messages on the email server (uncommon, but useful at times), email that is deleted and purged from Outlook Express may still remain on the provider's email server, and must be deleted by accessing the email account with an Internet portal or by changing the preferences in OE for the given account.

To check if OE is leaving deleted email on your provider's server,

1) open OE, pull down the Tools menu and choose Accounts

2) select the account (if you have more than one) and choose Properties

3) open the Advanced tab to see the present setting

You can see in the greyed-out lines below the check-box line, that there are some settings that would specify when to remove email from the server if you decide to keep, or make leaving messages on the server, your preference.

If you think you may have email on the provider's server, go to their website and access your email account from there.

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