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Google Mail

The University of York uses Google Mail as its email service. This means that it integrates very nicely with the other Google applications.

Email etiquette

This newfangled Electronic Mail thing has only been with us since 1971, so it's understandable that after only half a century we're still struggling to grasp its full potential as a means of communication.

Don't get phished

Be careful what you click on...

No, really. It's easy to get taken in. Even members of IT get caught out. So please, please, take a look at the resources below... especially the link to our phishing advice.

Electronic mail: the technical stuff

Let's have a look at the very basics of how email works, and some of the jargon involved:


Clients and servers

An email client is just a fancy term for an email program. Historically this would've been a desktop application (a proper, stand-alone computer program) but increasingly it's a browser application (a website).

In the old model, you'd write an email in your email client on your computer (maybe saving a copy locally, on your computer), then send that email down the internet to a server (a computer somewhere else that acts as your local post office in a snail-mail analogy). This server then sent the email to the server being used by your recipient (their local post office: perhaps rather than Then your recipient would download the email to their client (perhaps leaving a copy on their server, or perhaps deleting it and just saving it on their own computer).

With webmail applications like Google Mail, there's no local storage of files by default: they all live in the cloud, and is just a window onto that cloud. But you can still attach a client program to it, like Microsoft Outlook, or like the email app on your phone.


When you set up a new email app you might have to tell it a number of different server addresses, but what do all those letters mean?

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the set of rules (the route, if you like) by which you get an email from your computer to the server (outgoing mail). POP (Post Office Protocol) is the set of rules by which you get mail from the server to your computer (incoming mail). They're the postal-workers in our forced analogy.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a bit like a more sophisticated version of POP and is used a lot in this modern era of webmail services and phone apps because it essentially replicates your webmail folder structure on your app, and shows you some basic information about your emails before you choose to download them.

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