Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

March 2017
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Nice to see that the snow has disappeared. Even with the cold outside, I hope you are all enjoying this early spring. I especially love that the days are getting longer!

This month's issue focuses on a topic I get a lot of questions about - email. I cover syncing email across devices, cleaning up your inbox, and finally, how to switch email providers. As always, if you need any help with any of this, feel free to give me a call!

Julie Marto 
PS - Slow computer? Might be time for a spring cleaning! Drop it off with me for a flat rate tune-up!  

Email syncing across devices

Between computers, smartphones, and tablets, most people now read their email on more than one device. For some people the syncing of email across their devices happens automatically. For others, it's not so easy. The reason is the technology that the email provider uses - POP3, IMAP, or Exchange. Here is a great article that describes the three technologies in detail, but the important thing to understand is that POP3 basically sends information in one direction - from the server to your device. IMAP and Exchange establish two way communications, so what you do at your device is reflected at the server.

If you get your email from Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook/MSN, Yahoo, or even the much maligned AOL, you are usually fine. These web based email services typically use IMAP or Exchange by default, and  should mirror exactly what is on the server across all your devices. If that's not what's happening for you, it's a simple matter to change the way you get your email on your device and fix it.

Those of you using internet service provider (ISP) based email, like Comcast, Verizon and RCN, might have a different experience. Historically, ISP based email uses POP3, which sends messages from the server to your device, but doesn't sync back the other way.

Comcast and RCN now offer IMAP, so they can work the same way as Gmail and Yahoo. If you need help setting them up to work that way, I can set it up for you in a house call. Unfortunately, Verizon doesn't offer IMAP at this time and there is no easy way to sync a Verizon email account across devices. If you are a Verizon customer and you wish to sync email across devices, it might be time to change your email provider!
How to clean up your inbox

Got more email coming in than you care to deal with? Here are some simple tips to get it all under control.
  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists. Every time you buy something online, you are added to one or more mailing lists. I know I like to get my coupons from CVS, or find out about the latest sales at my favorite stores, and of course you ALL enjoy my newsletter! However, most folks get more email based advertising than they would like. By law, all legitimate advertisers must include an "unsubscribe" link, usually found towards the bottom of their emails. Click on that link, and you will be taken to a page that lets you set your email preferences for that sender. You can usually choose to allow certain types of emails from the vendor, or opt for none at all. I have also used a service called "unroll me" to remove me from multiple email lists at once, although it only allows you to do a certain amount for free.
  • Mark email as junk. If you don't  think that the sender is legitimate, you are better off reporting the unwanted email as junk or spam. Different email services and programs have different ways to do this, but in general, once you mark something as spam it will no longer appear in your inbox. Some ways to mark email as junk (depending on how and where you are getting your email) is to select the message and choose "junk" from the menu options, or to drag the message directly into a junk or spam folder.
  • Use filters to automatically sort email before it even gets to your inbox. For example, I have emails from all the sites I like to shop from automatically sent to a "shopping" folder in Outlook. That keeps my inbox clear, and I can look in that shopping folder when I have some time to spare. This article describes how to set up filters for various popular mail services.

Even if you follow all of these steps, sometimes it's just easier to abandon a cluttered inbox to the advertisers, and start a new email address for the "important" stuff - which leads us to our next topic!

Switching your email address

Maybe your inbox is full of junk, or you are unable to sync your emails across devices. Or maybe it's just time for a change. Regardless, switching your email address is a lot like moving - it goes more smoothly if you are organized and plan a strategy. Here are some tips to make the switch easier for you.
  • Choose a web based email that won't be dependent on your ISP. You might move someday and no longer have Comcast or Verizon. I would recommend either a Gmail or Outook.com account.
  • Send an email from your new address to notify your family and friends of the change. If you don't want all of your contacts to see each other's names, address your notification email to yourself, and blind copy the rest of your contacts. By the way, I can help you transfer your contacts from your old email address to your new - the process is different for every email provider.
  • Log in to financial and other sites that use your email address to communicate with you. Find the account information page and change your email of record.Don't forget about accounts you might not use often, like your doctor's office!
  • Continue to check your old account. Even though you have notified everybody of the change, you will find there will still be some people who continue to use your old email. Check it at least every few days for a while, until you are sure everybody is using the new email. There's no reason to close the old account - even after a few years you might find something of value in there!