Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Setting up a new email account is more than just a setting on your PC - you'll need to create a new email address with an email provider.

How do I set up an email address for my son on my computer?

This seems like such a simple question, but it actually demonstrates, I think, one of the fundamental confusions that many people have about email and how it's set up.

Exactly how a new email address is created and set up involves much more than just your computer.

Email first requires that you have an email service provider. This could be your ISP, it could be a free email service like Hotmail or GMail (if used properly), a paid service, a domain registrar or others.

Which service you pick will depend on your needs. Do you need a personal account that you don't care if you lose? Free email is definitely the way to go if that's the case. Are you setting up a business? Then you probably want to own your own domain and have email routed through that domain. Depending on your needs, expectations and budget, there are many options.

"Email first requires that you have an email service provider."

It is with this email service provider that you then create the new email address. This service then sets up all the required components on the internet to make sure that when email is sent to your email address it's collected and made available for you to access.

Note that we haven't even touched your PC yet. Everything so far about creating a new email address actually has nothing to do with your computer, specifically, and everything to do with the email provider.

Once you've set up your new email address with your provider, you'll want to decide how you want to access your email, and that's where your PC may come in.

Web Access

Web access is one popular approach, and is most typically used with free accounts. With web access you need nothing more than a web browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. You access the URL provided by the email service provider and login with your account name and password. That's it. Anywhere you can access a computer and a browser, you can access your email. (Just be careful to keep your account information secure from theft when you're using someone else's computer.)

The downside of web access is that it requires an internet connection, it tends to be slower depending highly on the speed of that internet connection, and it's frequently not nearly as feature rich as the alternative.

That being said web access is also often provided as an alternative or option for traveling by almost all commercial email providers.

If you're using only web access, you'll want to judge carefully whether you should be backing up your email somewhere in addition to having it "up on the internet".

Downloading Email

The other approach to accessing email is to download it to your computer. This is typically done by using an email program such as Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora or any of perhaps hundreds of alternatives.

The process is simple: you start your email program and it automatically connects to your email provider and downloads to your PC all the new mail that's arrived since the last time you checked. You then read and write messages in your email program. When you hit "Send" the program connects back up to your email provider to send the message from your PC onto its destination.

The downside of downloading is that your email is downloaded to your PC, and thus typically only accessible on that PC. You also need to take responsibility for making sure that your email is backed up along with the rest of your computer. (You do backup your computer, right?)

Downloaded email is typically much, much faster to deal with, and email programs are significantly more customizable and powerful than almost anything you'll find on the web.

Some, but not all, web-based email providers will also provide downloadable email as an option.

The Bottom Line

So you want to set up a new email account for your son? It's a two step process:

  1. Create a new account with an email service provider.

  2. Decide how your son wants to access that email, and then either just login via a browser, or set up a desktop email program to download it.

Oh, and in either case, make sure to make a conscious decision about backing up. I hear of lost email accounts and information too often, and a backup easily avoids the disaster scenario.

Article C3636 - February 1, 2009 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

8 Comments
Michael Horowitz
February 4, 2009 11:25 AM

Gmail may not be the best solution for a child because they hide the true IP address of the sender. For more see

Don't let children receive email messages from Gmail
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13554_3-10042310-33.html

robnanney
February 4, 2009 1:06 PM

I believe outlook and a similar program DO need an internet connection. That statement is a bit misleading....

Karen Nardella
February 4, 2009 2:41 PM

I know that it is obvious to you, but it might not have been to the person asking the question. Not only does she need to have a computer, she needs to have an internet connection. Saying ISP does not help if you are a real newbie, which this person seems to be.

Peter Slonekp
February 4, 2009 3:40 PM

I had the same question but I did not get the answer. I already have an account with a provider but I would like another email address for another purpose. I set it up with the provider but now I do not know how to access it. Can you help me, please?

Jeff Lentz
February 5, 2009 9:10 AM

robnanney - about Outlook not needing an internet connection - what Leo meant is that with Web mail, to view your mail, you have to be connected at the time. With Outlook, you can view your mail at any time, whether you're connected or not. You just can't download anything new without an internet connection.

Peter Slonekp - if you have an account already set up with the provider, visit their web site and go to the Support section, where they will usually have all the steps you need to access an account. Without knowing exactly what your mail program is and who your service provider is, there's not much way to walk you through setting up, other than in the most broad, general terms.

Cees Zwijnenburg
February 5, 2009 6:13 PM

The original question is not answered by Leo as did Peter Slonekp react. I think the question is about setting up another "mailbox" and/or Alias for the son by the same Service provider as the father.
And how to make it possible for both to read their own emails.

Arthur
February 7, 2009 3:04 PM

Leo nearly always answers the question just right, but not this time. In his conclusion, Leo identifies a "two step process" but the questioner does not know how to carry out the two step process.

vincentmims
August 13, 2009 2:58 PM

how come fot the last week i have been trying to to open a new account for my son on facebook but it kept saying your account has not been confirmed yet or it says your yahoo.com has been linked to facebook

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.