Email about email

I get a lot of email about email. This week I’ll answer two frequently asked questions. First, how to keep your In Box under control, and second, when to show or hide recipients’ email addresses.


A clean In Box is a happy In Box

The best reason I know to keep your In Box clean is so you can easily find what you want. It scares me a little to watch customers scroll through several hundred messages in an In Box. One day last month I scrolled through over 1,000 messages in an In Box deleting meeting notices from two years ago, expired coupons, and Facebook notifications.

One way to keep your In Box clean is to --- wait for it --- DELETE MESSAGES YOU NO LONGER NEED! You’re not going to hurt anyone’s feelings if you delete a message when you’re through with it. As soon as you are finished reading an email message, ask yourself if you will ever need it again. If not, delete it right there and then.

Messages that you need to hang on to should still not live in the In Box. Create folders for those messages right there in your email program, and move the messages from the In Box to the appropriate folder. How you create folders is a little different from program to program, but the principle is the same. Here’s how to do it in Windows Live Mail:

  • Click on the Folders tab across the top of your main Live Mail window
  • Click on New folder
  • Enter a name for the new folder, and make it something informative, like Travel or Bills, or Later.
  • Highlight “Storage folders” by clicking once on it (Don’t just create folders within your In Box. Put them in Storage)
  • Click on OK

Now you should see your newly created folder under Storage folders on the left side of the mail window. If you don’t see Storage folders, click on the View tab across the top of the Live Mail window, and click on Storage folders. Now everything should be visible on the left side of the window.

OK. You’ve created a folder under Storage folders, and you can see it. Your next step is to put your messages in the folder.

  • Click on the Home tab
  • Click on the message you want to move
  • Drag it to the folder where you want to store it by holding down the left mouse button, dragging to the folder, and then releasing the button. (Or, right-click on the message, click on “Move to folder” and then click on the destination folder.)

Now you’ve cleaned your In Box and you have a fighting chance of finding the message you’re looking for later. Don’t hesitate to create as many of these folders under Storage Folder as you need. And don’t hesitate to clear them out from time to time!

Address etiquette

This question comes often and in different flavours, but the gist of it is whether to put recipients’ email addresses in the To field in an email, or hide them in the bcc field.

It's polite to use bcc instead of To when sending mail to a group of people who don't know each other or know each other’s email addresses.  Each person you bcc receives the message but can't see who else received it (or if ANYONE else received it). 

For example, I have a subset of customers who all use a particular computer program.  Every so often there is something important for them to know about that program.  I compose an email, and put my own address in the To field. In the bcc field I enter the email addresses of each customer.  Everyone gets the email but they can't see the other email addresses.

In contrast, when I send something to my Monday night curling team, I put everyone’s address in the To field. We all know who’s on the team, and we have nothing to hide!

How do you manage your email? Do you have any questions about email? Email them to me! You’ll find me at [email protected].

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!


Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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