How to send an email

Email is a great way of communicating with friends and family at the touch of a button, no matter where in the world you are

Email icon and envelope

Read on to learn:
  • how to begin composing a new email
  • where to add recipients to your email
  • where to input your subject line
  • how to send your email or save it as a draft, for later

The following steps show you how to send an email using a Gmail account. However, many email accounts or applications follow a similar process for creating and sending a new message.

You’ll need:
  • a computer with active internet connection
  • an email account set up and ready to send and receive emails.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to send an email
Step 1: Log in to your Gmail account so that you are on the dashboard (main page) of your mail account.
Step 2: Click Compose.
Gmail compose button screenshot
Step 3: A new blank email window will open up. In the ‘To’ box, type in the email address of the recipient.
Composing an email in Gmail
Step 4: You might want to include someone else in your email to ‘keep them in the loop’. You can do this by clicking Cc or Bcc, which will open another field. ‘Cc’ means ‘carbon copy’ and ‘Bcc’ means ‘blind carbon copy’. Adding an email address to the ‘Cc’ field means that that person will receive a copy of the email and all the other recipients will see their email address. If an email address is put into the 'Bcc’ field, the person will get a copy of the email but no other recipient will see that address.
If you are sending the same email to lots of different people, it’s a good idea to put all the email addresses in the ‘Bcc’ field to keep your ‘mailing list’ confidential. That way, there’s no chance that it could fall into the hands of a spammer or hacker.
Composing an email and adding a cc email address
Step 5: The subject field allows you to give the recipient an idea of the topic of your email, like a heading. You don’t have to put anything in the subject box, but it can help when viewing and sorting email.
Step 6: Email text can be formatted in a similar way to text in a word document. You can change the font style, colour and size using the formatting icons. You can also create bullet points and check the spelling of your email. Choose your formatting from the menu shown.
Formatting options in Gmail
Step 7: Type your message in the main body field of your email.
You can format your email using the options that are available on the toolbar. To add a link in the body of your email click on the insert link icon, then add the 'Text to display' and then a web or email address, finally click OK.
Insert a link
Step 8: When you’re happy with your email, click the blue Send button at the bottom of the compose window.
Sending an email in Gmail
Step 9: The email you’ve sent will now be stored in the ‘Sent Mail’ folder on your Gmail dashboard. You may have to run your mouse pointer over the Inbox folder link to see the other folders.
Step 10: You may start an email but then decide to come back to it later rather then sending it straightaway. Gmail saves your drafts automatically. So you can simply close the email and the unfinished email will be saved to your ‘Drafts’ folder.  When you decide that you’re ready to send it, you can retrieve it from the ‘Drafts’ folder by clicking Drafts and then clicking the correct item in the ‘Drafts’ folder list. Finish the email and click Send as normal.
Karen Maxwell is a Digital Unite tutor and assessor/trainer of computer accessibility.


Karla's picture

By Karla on 12th October 2012

Your site is so easy to follow, thank you SO much.
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 14th October 2012

Our pleasure, Karla, thank you for your kind comment.
Anthony Nguyen's picture

By Anthony Nguyen on 15th January 2013

I handle a computer class for Vietnamese seniors here in Lincoln Nebraska and I think your site is very great, very helpful. Thank you very much. Anthony Nguyen
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 15th January 2013

That's wonderful to hear, thank you Anthony!
Beth's picture

By Beth on 2nd February 2013

Well, a gold star to you all!! What a helpful site. I've had a computer for 10 years I consider myself more than basic using but I've picked up a few tips with all your guides. I've just recently changed computers (had XP and Outlook Express) - now Windows 7 and Live Mail. XP and Outlook Express were no bother but Live Mail..... I was looking to see how to change font size when replying to emails in Live Mail which was no bother in Outlook. However, I've discovered that if I change the wee sign "Rich Text HTML" to "Plain Text" before I reply, I can change the size of the font before replying to emails. Mind I don't know the difference or the outcome of doing that!!! Once again, brilliant site and well done!!!
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 3rd February 2013

Thank you so much, Beth!
subhashini's picture

By subhashini on 6th April 2013

Thank you...................
krishna.t's picture

By krishna.t on 22nd April 2013

your site is very easy to follow.thank u very much. .
kristirowe1970's picture

By kristirowe1970 on 13th June 2013

Im 43, & Im a new-b 2 the computer world!! ~I know, right! Gotta tell ya, so far Im not impressed! Dont get the whole facination with facebook either! In my day (damn that made me sound old) back in'the' day, we actually went outside; people talked face 2 face (we knew how 2 communicate) We knew our manners & we were & r always, always respectful 2 our elders!! Cutters, Huffers, Haters~The next generation! Anyway, this site, I could understand ! Thank U 4 making 1 thing about the computer world easy! Finally, I can send an email ! Yeah !! (Welcome 2 2013 Kristi!)
DU Community Manager's picture

By DU Community Manager on 13th June 2013

Thank you, Kristi, hopefully you'll find that (just like in the 'real world') there are plenty of lovely people and lovely places (like our community!) to offset the 'haters' and such :)