Using E-mail at HWS

As a member of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges community, you have an email address of the form

where username is your user name on the campus computer system. You can access your email from anywhere on campus and, in fact, from any computer on the Internet. Most people do this by logging onto the campus "VAX" computer. This method is described on a separate page. However, some people prefer to use Netscape -- or other email programs, such as Eudora -- to access email. One advantage of using Netscape is that you can send and receive messages that look like Web pages. They can even include links and images. You might want to experiment with using Netscape for email.

Using Netscape Email

I will assume that you are using Netscape Communicator 4.0 for Windows 95 or Windows NT. This is the version of Netscape that is available in Gulick Hall. Things are pretty much the same in the Macintosh version of Netscape 4.0.

Before you can use Netscape for email, you have to set it up with information about your email account. (You only have to do this once.) Begin by opening the Preferences dialog box:

Then, follow these steps to configure Netscape for email. (The pictures show the setup in my own copy of Netscape.)

Step 8) here is important. Do you want to "leave messages on the server after retrieval" or not? If you are just experimenting with Netscape, the answer is certainly yes. Put an X in the box by clicking on it. The "server" is the VAX computer. "Leaving messages on the server" means that the email messages that you read with Netscape will still be on the VAX when you log in to the VAX to read your email in the usual way. Netscape will download and store copies of your email, without deleting them from the VAX. If you leave the box unchecked, then Netscape will delete the original messages from the VAX when it downloads them.

The problem with leaving messages on the server is that if you do this, you will have two copies of each message: the original on the VAX and the copy that Netscape makes. If you ever decide that you want to use Netscape as your primary email tool, then you will probably want to configure it to delete your messages from the VAX.

(There is another thing to consider: If you use Netscape to read email in your dorm room, it will store your messages on your own computer's hard drive (where, by the way, they will be accessible to anyone else using that computer!). If you use one of the PC's in Gulick, the messages will go into your private account on the NT Server. Now, messages left on the VAX can be retrieved any time from anywhere on the Internet. This isn't true for messages stored on your own computer or on the NT Server -- you will have to go back to Gulick or back to your dorm room to find them again.)

One Netscape is configured with your email information, you can send and receive email. Use the New Message command to send a message:

The New Message command will open a message composition window, where you can type the email address of the recipient, the subject of the message, and the message itself:

To download your email from the VAX, you need to open the "Inbox" window. You can do this by clicking on the Inbox icon at the bottom right of any Netscape window, as shown above. (If your window doesn't have such an icon, the email command might be in a separate small floating window instead.) The Inbox window looks like this:

Netscape keeps a copy of any email message that you send. (To delete one of these messages, you have to move it to the trash, and then empty the trash.) To see a list of the messages you have sent, select "Sent" from the pop-up menu which contains "Inbox" in the above picture.

David Eck, September 1997