You receive lots of emails these days—either at work, at home, on our phones… But do you know what all the email jargon means? Keep reading to find out more about the difference between the various ways to receive email, and are you using the right protocol.

Whether you use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo mail, or email configured on your own website—there’s more to just receiving email than you think!

Email Clients vs Webmail

What are the different ways to download emails. If you’ve ever started a Gmail, Hotmail, or other email account, chances are you’ve used webmail. If however you work in an office and use a program like Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Mac Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird to manage your emails, these are known as email clients.

Both webmail and email clients are applications for sending and receiving email, and they use similar methods for doing this. Webmail is an application that is written to be operated over the internet through a browser, usually with no downloaded software required.

Email clients are programs that are installed on local computers i.e. your personal computer, or the computers you use in your office. This is all done on your computer with an installed application or software program, rather than by your browser with instructions from the remote server.

Many webmail providers allow users to use email clients with their service. This means you could just log into your webmail account in a browser and retrieve your emails over the internet or use a third party email clients to manage this process.

POP3, Post Office Protocol

POP3 creates local copies of emails (ie on your computer) and deletes the originals from the server. The emails are tied to that specific computer, and cannot be accessed via any webmail after it has been copied or any separate computers. At least, not without doing a lot of email forwarding or porting around mailbox files.

IMAP, Internet Message Access Protocol

The idea was to keep users from having to be tied to a single email client, this tends to work for those permanently connected to the internet and constantly on the move with numerous devices giving them the ability to read their emails as if they were “in the cloud.”

Because IMAP keeps emails on a remote mail server, you’ll have to manage your mailbox. Depending on the size of your mailbox provided by the email services you will have to move some emails off the server and on to a local computer or delete. It is good practice to clear down your emails in your inbox every now and then so you do not overload it, as it will stop receiving emails when it runs out of space.