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I’m always amazed at the number of people who access their email via web browser. These are generally the same people who have a single email address that came with their internet access. While over the years I’ve had my AOL, Earthlink & RoadRunner addresses, I learned early on to have at least one backup account that is independent of any ISP. The first one was probably my dotMac account that migrated to MobileMe and finally iCloud. Yep, I still use it. In fact, it’s the main account I use for friends & family. I also have addresses with Brighthouse (my current ISP) and Google. Add to that a Google account that is tied to a website I maintain for a group I belong to. And then, there’s also my husband’s business account. Yes, I have lots of accounts to keep track of, as you can see. Checking each one through a web browser would take forever.

I think the first actual mail application I used was Eudora — way back when. Eudora was replaced by something from Microsoft, either Outlook Express or Entourage. The latest version of Microsoft Office comes with Outlook. When Apple released the first verion of Mail, that became my mail app of choice. I won’t debate the merits of one over another. It all boils down to a matter of preferences, and that’s why we own Macs. Right?

Whichever works for you, you should have a dedicated mail app and at least one backup or extra email account. I don’t know of a service that hasn’t been down at one time or another. Even iCloud has had a couple of major outtages. Gmail accounts are free and easy to set up. I won’t recommend a free Yahoo account. Everyone I know who has had an email account hacked has been with Yahoo. I have no idea whether it’s coincidence or they’re just easier to hack. YMMV.

If you check email from multiple systems (desktop, laptop, smart phone), you should set up your email accounts using IMAP instead of POP settings. IMAP will ensure that your messages are in sync across those systems.

If you are living with a single email account that is tied to your ISP, consider adding an iCloud or Google/gmail account. If you’ve never used an email app, check out Apple’s Mail app. It’s free and easy to set up, and it should be sitting right in your Applications folder. Likewise, if you have a version Microsoft Office on your computer, you should have either Entourage or Outlook in that folder. Give it a try.

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