Understanding Email: All you need to know about how Email works

Most of us are familiar with email ever since Microsoft’s hotmail or yahoo mail and later Google’s Gmail popularized it starting in the late 1990s. However, up until now we’ve known email to be a messaging technology accessible on desktop internet enabled computers or other devices such as personal digital assistants or PDAs.

The purpose of this post is to show you that email is very possible on your mobile phone and you can easily use it like SMS. Before we get into that, let’s look at how email works.

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The Basics

An email system comprises of email server also called a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) that stores and relays email messages to other email servers hosted by various email service providers like Yahoo, Google or even your organisation. Examples of email servers include Sendmail, Postfix, Microsoft exchange server. Email servers use SMTP protocol to communicate among themselves.

Email Clients

Then, we have email clients that retrieve email messages from email servers. They’re also called Mail User Agents (MUA) and examples include PC based Microsoft outlook, Linux based Thunderbird, Webmail and other custom designed email clients developed by email service providers.

There’re several others depending on what device you’re using. For instance Nokia mobile phones have their own inbuilt email clients. These email clients enable you to retrieve, display,send, forward, delete email messages stored on the email server. Email clients IMAP4 and POP3 to communicate with email servers.

Also note that your email client communicates with the email over what is referred to as ports. Ports are unique communication channels that various applications use to “talk” with themselves. The default ports for IMAP4 and POP3 are 143 and 110 respectively.

Wrapping it up

So looking back on the subject of email on your mobile phone, you can either configure the inbuilt email client of your phone to communicate with the email server of your service provider which I  will be showing you how to in the next post or you can download a java based email application that’s already pre-configured with your email service provider like my Gmail client on my Nokia 6131.

You simply download the app and then sign in with your account credentials.

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Image source: scottreavely.com


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