What Is Email and How Does It Work?


E-mail communications use the Post Office Protocol (POP) which allows messages to be uploaded or downloaded from a mail server. This is generally used in conjunction with the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) to extend text based E-mail to include multimedia.

E-mail uses the same domain name system as a URL, but instead of specifying a target location at the end of the address it stipulates the user’s e-mail login name before the address, with an @ as the protocol symbol separating the sections john.smith @. jcu. edu. au

E-mail is accessed using an email program such as:

  • Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express
  • Netscape Mail
  • Eudora

These programs require options within the Email program to be set up specific to the user’s email service.

Web Based Email

Web based email allows email to be accessed through an interactive web page within a browser rather than requiring the use of an Email application program. This allows a user to send and read emails from any browser at any location on the internet without the need to setup any options. There are many free web based email services available on the Internet such as HotMail. These services are useful as they may be used from any country and will not be lost when you leave the university or change Internet Service Providers.


Files such as a Word document may be attached to an email message and sent with the message to the recipient. The recipient may then open or save the attached file.

List Servers (Listservs or Mailing List)

A list server maintains a mail list of subscribers which are sent regular e-mail bulletins or newsletter on a specific topic to which the list server is devoted. Subscription is achieved by sending an e-mail to the list servers e-mail address with the Subject field blank and the list server name and your name in the e-mail text area.

To: List server e-mail address.
Subject: (leave blank)
Text: Listserver-name User-name