Web Tools · Free Email Tips

Setting up a free email account is a fairly simple process. Here are some tips to get you started.

Choosing an email provider

There are many sites that offer free email accounts. Some offer very basic services, others offer specialized features that allow you to maintain address books, send and receive attachments and store your email in special folders. Sorting through the strengths and weaknesses of the different services can be overwhelming—the Free Email Address Directory and the Free Email Providers Guide are two useful resources to consult. Well-known, established free email providers include:

Signing up for an Account

Once you select a provider, you’ll need to create a user name. Chose a user name that you won’t have any trouble remembering and is fairly simple to type. Most people select variations on their given name (e.g., johnsmith, jsmith1975, smithjohn, etc.). If the name you choose is being used by someone else, you’ll be prompted to select an alternative. Your user name will form the basis of your email address (i.e. johnsmith@hotmail.com).

You’ll also need to select a password. Your password should also be something that is easy to remember, such as the name of a pet or a family member. This information is confidential—never share your password with anyone else!

Make certain to read the User or Service Agreement carefully before completing the registration process.

Working with Email

You can check email from any computer with Internet access. Just type in the web address for your email service (e.g., www.mail.yahoo.com). You will then be prompted to enter your user name and password. New messages will show up in the inbox. In most cases, you just need to click on the message to read it. If you want to send a response to the message, look for the reply button. To send the message to someone else, use the forward button. Once you become comfortable working with new email account, start investigating some of the special customization services offered by the provider. For example, you might want to set up an online address book or create special folders (work, home, family, etc.) for storing email.


If you run into problems, look for the help button on the email provider homepage.

If you lose or forget the password to your email account, look for a “Forgot your password?” link on the email service homepage and then follow the instructions. Library staff are not able to help retrieve lost passwords.