E-mail: Getting Out from Under the Pile

This page on managing e-mail focuses on use of typical e-mail software. For information on ANGEL mail, go to ANGEL Help documentation at http://cms.psu.edu


Nickname - an alias for one or more e-mail addresses. For example, a person's name can be typed in the "To" field instead of typing in an e-mail address (e.g., csmith instead of xyz123@psu.edu).

Mailbox - in your e-mail software (such as Thunderbird), you have an "In" Box (or equivalent) into which your incoming mail is placed. In Thunderbird, you also have "Out" Box, Trash, Junk, and can create other mailboxes and folders into which to place mail.

Filtering - a process by which you have incoming mail automatically go to mailboxes that you've created instead of all going to the In Box.

Stationery - a standard note that you create, save, and send numerous times with or without edits. You don't have to type the content of the note each time or find an old version among your outgoing e-mail.

Why Should I Know This?

With the volume of mail we get and the number of people with whom we correspond, we need to have ways to streamline our work.

Shortcuts to addressing mail

  1. Use nicknames (discussed below).
  2. Use nicknames for groups of IDs or names (discussed below)
  3. Use just the Penn State access ID without @psu.edu. To do this, under Special, Settings (or Tools, Options on Windows), Sending mail, in the field "domain to add to unqualified mail," type psu.edu. This will make your mail add @psu.edu if you only type a Penn State Access ID (that is, mail to xyz123 will go to xyz123@psu.edu).


Nickname "schemes"

  1. Individualized, varied
  2. By first name (be cautious since you may correspond with more than one person with the same first name)
  3. By last name
  4. By full name
  5. By initial and first or last name
  6. By e-mail address (e.g., Penn State Access ID that is unique)
  7. Easily remembered acronym (e.g, helpdesk, virusreport)

Creating a Nickname while mail from the person is open

While you are viewing a note , you can usually create a nickname for the person or group. This can save you from manually typing this information in.

Grabbing a bunch of e-mail IDs from an e-mail note

If you are in a note that has multiple e-mail addresses for a group to which you will need to send a note later, you may be able to copy the addresses and paste them into your address book.

Setting up mailboxes and mail folders

Consider creating separate mailboxes for use in sorting mail:

Filtering mail

Filtering is a way to have mail go into separate mailboxes automatically. You can filter incoming (most common) or outgoing mail, manually filter or do any combination. For example, you can filter mail coming from a listserv or mail coming from students in a specific course. Then you can review the homework in the mailbox when you are ready.

To filter incoming mail, you must

  1. Determine what you want your email client to look for (criteria on which to filter) in incoming mail (e.g., mail with certain words in the subject line or from a specific e-mail address(es)).
  2. Determine what action to take (e.g., put into a mailbox).

Sorting mail

You can sort mail in several ways.

  1. When any mailbox is open, you can sort on any header (e.g., who, subject, date) by clicking on the column header.
  2. Similarly, you can sort by using the Edit menu, then selecting "Sort" where you will see a list of the ways you can sort the mail in a mailbox.
  3. Using filters, you can automatically sort mail into mailboxes.
  4. You can manually transfer one or more e-mails to a mailbox. Highlight it (or several) and use the Transfer menu.

Tip: After your mail is sorted, for example by name of sender, you can type the first couple letters of the sender's name to jump to the mail that person sent.

To make a link be "active" in e-mail you send

You can help receivers of links you send if you:

  1. Always include the "http://". That is, don't send just www.psu.edu.
  2. Put a < before the e-mail and > after the link. The < > keeps the mail from adding a line break that may make very long links invalid.

E-mail at home and at work

Leave mail "on server" from home computer so that if you read mail at home, it still comes to your office.

Accessing mail when away from home and office

  1. You can forward e-mail to another account.
  2. Or you can use a service provider at another location.
  3. BEST SOLUTION: Use WebMail from anywhere in the world: http://webmail.psu.edu

ANGEL for Organizing Course Mail

You can use Penn State's Course Management System ANGEL for course mail since course enrollees' names and access IDs are available automatically. ANGEL mail can be sorted into folders and can include attachments. You can see all correspondence to and from any student you select. You can mail to any subset of your students, including student teams. You can send a copy of the mail that you write to accounts outside of ANGEL (e.g., Penn State access account). However, you cannot send e-mail from an outside account into ANGEL.

You can require that all the students in your course use ANGEL for any communication related to the course. Doing this keeps all correspondence for a particular course in one place. However, you will have to log into the course to check what students have sent to you or to their classmates. You should, of course, allow students to use regular e-mail for emergencies.