Your inbox


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Your Inbox

A man checks his email while sitting in his home office

What's coming up

Your inbox is the first screen you'll see when you log in and is where you'll be able to see all of the emails that you receive.

After you sign up for an email account, the first email in your inbox will usually be a welcome message from your email provider.

This activity will help you learn more about your inbox. Your email account might look a little different to the examples used in this course, but you should still be able to follow along.

Start activity
Digital illustration of and email popping out of a computer screen

Different types of messages

You might receive a few different types of email message.

Your friends and family might send you chatty emails to keep in touch.

Other people, like your bank, email provider or some supermarkets, might email you to tell you about their latest news or offers.

This will only happen if you've given them your email address.

A digital illustration of different types of money with an email message icon
An example of a list of junk emails in a spam folder with a delete button above.

You may receive messages you don't want. This is called 'spam'. 'Spam' is the email version of junk mail. You'll find out how to deal with 'spam' in the 'Safety and security' part of this course.

eSafety tip icon

eSafety Tip

Don't worry if you receive 'spam' or unwanted mail - it is, unfortunately, just part of having an email address. Just like getting unwanted advertisements or mail through the post, you will also get them electronically in your email inbox. Treat these spam emails the same as you would unwanted post to your house - delete them.

Salma receives a reply

Most new email messages that Salma receives will go to her inbox.

However, some emails might go to her ‘junk' or ‘spam' folder by accident, so Salma needs to check this regularly so that she's not missing anything important.

Shows an example of an email inbox with two messages in the inbox folder. One of them has been read and one of them is not as is indicated by bold text

Unread messages

When you receive a new email, it will be in a brighter colour or in bold compared to the ones you've already read.

Sometimes there'll be an image next to it, for example a circle or a closed envelope.

Salma has received a reply from Maryam. Because she hasn't read the email yet, Salma can see that it's in bold text.

Sender and subject

From her inbox, Salma can see who the email is from and what it's about, which helps her decide whether or not to open it.

Shows an example of an email inbox with two messages in the inbox folder. The unread email has been highlighted and you can see the name of the sender and the subject line of the email
Shows an example of an unread email that has the subject highlighted

Reading the message

Now that Salma has received a message, she'll need to open it.

Selecting the message

To open the message from Maryam, Salma will need to select where it says what the email is about.

Sender and subject

When Salma has opened the email, she'll still be able to see who it's from and what it's about.

Shows an example of an email display after it has been selected from the inbox. It highlights the details of who it was from and the subject line, as these can still be seen once the email is opened.
Shows an example of an open email. It highlights the contents as the main body of the email

Reading the message

She can then read the message from Maryam, which will be in the big box underneath.

Shows an example of an email in an inbox with the 'Reply' button highlighted

What shall I do with this email?

When you've read an email, you can decide to do a few different things.

You might choose to reply to the email if you want to keep the conversation going or you need to let the other person know a piece of information.

You can 'star' the email to read it later. This is like bookmarking a page in a book, and means that you'll be able to find your message quickly when you want to.

Shows an example of an email in an inbox with the star button selected
Shows an example of an email in an inbox with the 'Delete' button highlighted

You can also choose to delete the email. It's a good idea to do this if you think the message might be harmful. You can find out more about the types of email you should delete in the 'Safety and security' part of this course.

Shows an example of an email in an inbox with the 'Reply' button highlighted

Replying to an email

Salma wants to keep the conversation going with Maryam, so she chooses to reply to her email.

At the bottom of the message there are some options, including ‘Reply', ‘Reply All' and ‘Forward'.

'Reply' or 'Reply all'

Sometimes you'll get an email that has been sent to more than one person. If you want to reply to just the person who sent it, you can press ‘Reply'. If you want to send a reply message to everyone, you can select ‘Reply All'.

It's a good idea to double check the ‘To' box and make sure that the email is going to the correct person before you press ‘Send.'

Shows an example of an email in an inbox with the 'Reply' and the 'Reply All' button highlighted
Shows an example of an email in an inbox with the 'Reply' button highlighted


Salma wants to send a message back to Maryam so she selects ‘Reply.' This creates a conversation between Salma and Maryam.

Adding an attachment

Salma has heard that she can send pictures and other files to her friends using her email account.

Salma knows that Maryam loves dogs as much as she does, so she'd love to send a picture of her two dogs.

Receiving and replying to email: Adding an attachment

This demonstration video is approximately 55 seconds in duration. It demonstrates how Salma can add an attachment to an email she is typing.

Once the video starts, the intro panel fades and we see the screen is split into two parts. On the left-hand side is an animation of Salma's email message that she is in the middle of creating. On the right-hand side, there is text displayed, which is the script for the voiceover track.

Voiceover: "Salma will need to choose Insert at the top of the message box. Then she will select the paperclip symbol to add a photo. Whenever you see the paperclip, this is generally a sign that you can add or attach something to the document."

The left-hand panel shows the mouse cursor move to the top left of the message and click on the little paperclip symbol to open the File directory panel.

Voiceover: "Once she has clicked the paperclip symbol, Salma's file directory appears. The file directory is simply the place on your computer where all of your photos, documents and other files are stored. Salma has a picture of her dogs saved in the Pictures folder in her file directory. She selects the picture and clicks Open."

The left-hand panel shows the cursor move to the photograph and click once to select it. The cursor then moves down to the right and clicks the Open button. The photo gets added to Salma's email in a flash.

Voiceover: "Great! Salma has added an attachment to her email."

Video ends.

Shows a list of emails in an inbox with one of the emails having a paperclip symbol next to the subject line

Receiving an attachment

When Maryam receives the email from Salma, the paperclip symbol lets her know there's an attachment.

Once Maryam has opened the email, she'll see the photo of the dogs at the bottom. She'll need to select it to view a larger version of the photo.


It's not just photos that can be attached to emails. Salma has heard about a better paid job. Let's see how Salma can attach her CV to apply.

Salma has written the email ready to send. She just needs to attach her CV.

Icon of a job application image
A blank email template is shown highlighting and magnifying the paperclip symbols that is found in the bottom left corner of this template

The paperclip symbol

First, Salma will need to select the paperclip symbol.

The file directory

Once Salma has done this, the file directory will open.

Salma is using a PC. You might see a slightly different layout for the file directory when you attach a document depending on what device you are using.

Shows a small window that has popped up over the new email template after you have selected the paperclip symbol. The new window shows a list of folders on your computer as a file directory for you to be able to find the document that you want to attach to the email.
Shows the file directory pop up window over a new email message template. The file directory window has the 'Documents' folder highlighted.

The documents folder

Salma has saved her CV in the 'Documents' folder. As she's using a PC she select the folder then selects the 'Open' button.

Shows a range of documents that are available from the documents folder that was previously selected from the file directory window

Selecting the CV

Now Salma will need to select her CV, then select 'Open' to attach it to the email.

eSafety tip icon

eSafety Tip

Don't open or download any attachments from an email that looks like it is spam mail. Delete the email without clicking on anything in it or downloading anything from it.

A woman concentrates on her tablet while at a local cafe


Well done, you've reached the end of the 'Receiving and responding to email' activity.

You've seen how Salma can read the emails she receives, keep a conversation going and even send attachments using her email account. In the next activity, 'Email safety and security' you'll find out how to keep safe when using email.