This overview covers topics relevant to most email users at Penn; no
individual email client is covered in depth. The email clients in common
use at Penn have either Penn-specific or vendor-provided user documentation
available. Your time would be well spent becoming familiar with the specific
functions and features of the mailer you use every day.
Note: Many users fail to exercise proper caution when sending
sensitive information or downloading attachments. Read carefully the caveats
about email in Desktop Security 101: A Quick Course In Safer Computing.
Email accounts are generally provided by the School or department with
which you are affiliated. In some cases, a PennKey
and password are required before you can get an account. Your Local
Support Provider (LSP) or residential Information
Technology Advisor (ITA) can give you more information. If you're
not sure whom to contact, you can
Specifications by School or call First Call at 215-573-4778 for
The commonly used, supported methods of accessing email on campus are
listed below. Check with your LSP to find out which methods are recommended
and supported in your School or business unit.
Apple Mail is a desktop email client for Mac
OS X that accesses mail on remote servers via the Internet Message
Protocol (IMAP) or the Post Office Protocol (POP). To use Mail, you
need access to an account on a mail server running IMAP or POP, such
as dolphin or pobox. The Apple
Mail product page has information on obtaining and configuring
Apple Mail for Mac.
- Outlook is a desktop email client for Windows that
accesses mail on remote servers via either the Internet Message Access
Protocol (IMAP) or the Post Office Protocol (POP). To use Outlook, you need access to an
account on a mail server running IMAP or POP, such as dolphin or pobox,
or a Microsoft Exchange Server. The Outlook
product page has information about obtaining and configuring Outlook.
- Entourage is a desktop email client for Apple that accesses mail on a Microsoft Exchange Server. The Entourage product page has information about obtaining and configuring Entourage.
- Thunderbird is a desktop email client for Windows and
Macintosh that comes bundled with Mozilla Firefox. Thunderbird can
access mail on remote servers via the Internet Message Access Protocol
or Post Office Protocol (POP). To use Thunderbird, you need an account
on a mail server running IMAP or POP, such as mail.sas, eniac.seas,
or pobox. The Thunderbird product product page has information about obtaining and configuring
Thunderbird. Online Help can be accessed from within the Messenger
- Webmail is accessed using a standard Web browser such as
Firefox or Internet Explorer. Webmail is the recommended
way to access your
email account when you are away from your own computer. It is available
on all the major mail servers on campus.
Online Help can be accessed from within Webmail.
If you access your Penn email account via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), you cannot send mail
unless your mail software is configured to use the correct Simple Mail
Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server. Information Systems & Computing (ISC)
suggests that you use the Penn-based SMTP server that corresponds to your
mail host whenever possible. However, in a small number of cases, you
must use your ISP's SMTP server for outgoing mail. For details and configuration
instructions, see Selecting
and Configuring Your SMTP Server.
Most email addresses, including Penn addresses, follow the Internet
email addressing format:
The part to the left of the "at" sign (@) is an identifier for a person.
The part to the right is the Internet address of a host computer. It usually
indicates the name of the host, the host's institution, and the host's
Internet domain (e.g., edu [education], gov [government], mil [military],
com [commercial], nl [Netherlands], fr [France], etc.), separated by so-called
"dots" (i.e., periods). For example, the address
indicates that someone with the user ID "jabba" has an account on the
host called "pobox" at the University of Pennsylvania, in the U.S. educational
domain of the Internet. The address
illustrates a fuller specification of the hostname -- a host called "mail"
in "med" (the School of Medicine). Notice that you do not need to pay
attention to upper and lowercase distinctions and that email addresses
do not contain any spaces. Addresses can, however, contain certain punctuation
marks such as "_" (underscore) and "-" (hyphen).
Personal email addresses. Penn's Online
Directory contains faculty, staff, and student listings. Two views
of information are available: the Public View, available to anyone on
the Internet, and the Penn View, available to current faculty, staff,
and students who log in using their PennKey and password.
Listing requirements, detailed in "About the Online Directory,"
available from the footer of all Online
Directory pages, help determine how much information about an individual
is available in each view. In general, students are not required to be
listed in either view -- they can display as much or as little information
about themselves as they want to. Faculty and staff have minimum listing
requirements for each view, with no email address required in the Public
View. In addition, faculty and staff who have petitioned for exclusion
from the Online Directory due to compelling privacy concerns are not listed
at all. Faculty, staff, and students are responsible for maintaining their
own directory information and can update their listings online using the
"Update directory listings" link on the Penn Web Directories
The Online Directory can be reached from the
Directories page, available in the Penn Web from all centrally maintained
menu pages via a handy toolbar (usually located at the top of each page),
and via the built-in address lookup features of supported email clients.
Each email client must be configured
to find the directory.
Departmental email addresses. To find departmental
email addresses, check departmental
home pages available via Penn A-Z.
Non-Penn email addresses. To find email addresses for
colleagues and friends around the world, try the links on the Library's
Directories page or the Universities Worldwide
Email etiquette is a set of common conventions, evolved from practical
experience, that guide experienced mail users. Keep in mind that these
are guidelines, not fixed rules:
- Pick an appropriate subject for your message. If you need to discuss
several topics, consider posting several shorter messages.
- Brevity is appreciated, but don't forget to be polite.
- Use blank lines between paragraphs to improve readability.
- Use asterisks for *emphasis*.
- Use _underlining_ to show italics.
- Show humor with a sideways smiley :-).
- Be aware that ALL CAPITALS SEEM LIKE SHOUTING.
- Take a break before responding to email if you are tired or angry.
- Identify yourself; sign your messages with your name and affiliation.