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Web based email is a good idea for several reasons.
1. If a web mail address begins to attract a lot of spam, it can be abandoned and a new account set up with a new address.
However, that's unlikely; I find the spam filtering for my Gmail address to be spot on; I rarely get any spam at all and only once in three years did I find that a good email had gone into the Spam box.
2. If you change your ISP, your web mail address is not affected. You only need to change the contact address for your web mail account. Your friends continue to send to the same address and you receive it without bother.
3. If something horrible happens to your computer, or to your local email client, you won't lose your old emails—unless you've asked that they be deleted on downloading.
4. A fourth reason might be that you can send and read your mail on the web and do without a local email client. In that case, though, you lose the ability to use your own stationery or see stationery as it was sent.
Stationery doesn't work properly on web mail read on the web. It must be sent from and received by Outlook Express, Thunderbird, or an equally stationery friendly email client, so you need to set one of those up to receive emails sent to your Gmail or Hotmail address.
Mail to your Yahoo! address can't easily be downloaded, and my reading tells me that you can't send from your Yahoo! address from any local client such as OE, WM, WLM or Thunderbird.
On the web, most web mail clients will first present incoming mail as plain text, with an option to display pictures etc. You may have to OK this once for each sender.
Gmail will display any embedded picture, but no background or background colour. Yahoo and Hotmail display picture and colour, but no background. top
An email sent to a Gmail address but received and viewed in Outlook Express displays exactly as it was sent.
There are also instructions for setting up each of ten other email clients to download Gmail. Below the list of clients—which includes iPhone—you'll find helpful information under headings Getting Started, Learn More and Troubleshooting. Setting up with other email clients.
Microsoft recommends that you download and install Windows Live Mail. (This is not the same client as Windows Mail.)
Windows Live Mail for XP is available here.
Windows Live Mail for Vista and 7 is available here.
Once WLM is set up and ready to go, have your Hotmail address and password where you can see them.
Click Tools > Accounts. Click Add.
On the General tab, type the name you want your contacts to see: Mary Anne, M. A. Somename or whatever and type in your Hotmail email address.
On the Server tab, go down to Login Name and type your full hotmail address. Type your Hotmail password beside Password. Unless you're on a shared computer, tick Remember password.
As soon as I'd done all of this, WLM filled in the other spaces and said I'd successfully set up the account. I tested it and it worked fine.
Stationery sent to and from that address and downloaded into either OE or WLM worked fine too.
There's a paid version of Yahoo! Mail, called Yahoo! Mail Plus, and emails in this can be downloaded into your local email client. With the free version of Yahoo! though, it seems that with the help of another programme it's possible to receive Yahoo emails, but not to send them. It's simplest to think of Yahoo! as "web only".
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.