You most likely use email every day and many of us do throughout the day. We now have to keep track of multiple email addresses and passwords! If you stop and think about it, email is a huge part of our daily lives.
The invention of email was a game-changer, especially in the workplace. It seems hard to even imagine the days of using just USPS otherwise known as snail mail. The only way to send communication with someone who is not physically with you back in the old days was through a horse-ridden mail carrier. For many years after, we just relied on our postal mail carriers in their little trucks. Now an email can be delivered within seconds. Close to instant! We are very fortunate to be living during the immense acceleration of technology.
The very first version of what would become known as email was invented in 1965 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of the university’s Compatible Time-Sharing System, which allowed users to share files and messages on a central disk, logging in from remote terminals. All the info is here on Wikipedia
How does this all actually work? It is done through something called Email protocol. This is a method by which a communication channel is established between two computers and email is transferred between them. When an email is transferred, a email server and two computers are involved. One computer sends the email and the other one receives it. The mail server stores the email and lets the receiving device access it and download it if needed. There are four different mail protocols. IMAP, POP3, SMTP, and Exchange. These protocols differ in the way by which they establish connections and allow users access to emails.
IMAP and POP
IMAP and POP are most likely the way that you are accessing your email. IMAP is the recommended way to check email from different devices, like your phone, tablet, and computer.
Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) You can access your email wherever you are using any kind of device with IMAP. You aren’t actually storing it on your device or downloading it. You are reading it from the actual email server. The nice thing about this is you can literally access it anywhere. If you are out of the country, at a friend’s house, watching your kid play sports, you can access your mail. More info at Wikipedia
POP, short for the Post Office Protocol, is used to sync email from Gmail to any compatible mail client, such as Outlook, Thunderbird, or Apple Mail. Like IMAP, POP is not a Google product; it’s a standardized, RFC-compliant protocol that any email service or client can choose to be compatible with. This is what is used if you are using an email program such as Outlook from your PC and the emails are downloaded to your computer. The sent email is stored locally on your PC or Mac and not the email server like IMAP. Many Internet service providers give you accounts that use POP
More info at Wikipedia
Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, and iCloud are all using webmail. To access you use the internet and sign in to your email account via a link.
Outlook, Thunderbird, or Apple Mail are all also email apps, in other words, programs that you install and manage on your computer. You can add any email account to your email app to manage your email.
It is easy to add webmail accounts to your email apps such as Outlook. It will attempt to set it up as IMAP but if you are having trouble, it’s usually because the email account is set up for a POP. If this happens, you just need to ask your email provider the name of their POP and SMTP server information that will look like this
- Incoming Mail (IMAP) Server: imap.<name of service>.com
- Incoming (POP) Server: pop.<name of service>.com
- Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server: smtp.<name of service>.com
The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is an internet standard communication protocol for electronic mail transmission. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages. See the Wikipedia page for more info
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