Some Very Basic Hints on Using Your E-mail Program

If you are very new to e-mail and using a computer, a few hints on how to use your e-mail program to edit messages you are composing will help you to be more effective on the list. You will be able to delete quoted text, change the subject, and send to the individual rather than the list with ease!

Because there are dozens of different e-mail programs and several different types of computers we cannot tell you exactly how to use your e-mail program, but many programs are similar so we can give some general hints. In addition, each of the things we describe here can be done with any e-mail program, including yours! You may have to explore a little and it can also be very helpful to get advice from a friend or family member with more experience.

As you read these instructions it's very helpful to practice while you read - so open your e-mail program, and reply to any message just to get a message to edit for practice (But don't actually send it!)

Moving Around

In general, once you have clicked the reply button, your e-mail program will present you with the new message with the "To:" field and "Subject:" fields filled in, and will usually quote the message you're replying to.

You can move to any part of your message by just clicking on it with the mouse. If the field is editable, you can then just start typing to add text of your choice. This includes the "Subject:" field and the "To:" fields. If you need to change the subject, this is how to do it.

The Control and Apple Keys

To accomplish some tasks, you need to use the control (CTRL) key on a PC or the "apple" key on a Macintosh. These keys act something like the shift key and are used in a similar way. To get an uppercase A you would hold the shift key down while pressing the A key. Similarly, to type CTRL-A hold the control key down while pressing the A key.

In the instructions below, I refer to control keys. If you have a PC use the CTRL key. If you have an Apple, there is both a "control" key and an "Apple" Key (with a picture of an apple on it). Use the Apple key instead of the control key everywhere you find instructions to use a control key or CTRL-. Apple computers have a one button mouse, but PCs have at least two buttons. In these instructions when I talk about "the" mouse button I mean the left button on a PC.

Selecting Text

When text is selected it is highlighted in some way. To select an area of text, click at the start of the text you want to select and move the mouse while holding the button down - you will see the text highlight to show what you have selected so far. When you are satisfied with your selection let the mouse button up.

To select all the text the body of a message or a header field (like he "To:, "From:", or "Subject" fields , put the mouse cursor somewhere in the field and type CTRL-A.

Deleting Text

Use Delete to Reduce Quoted Text in Replies

When you reply to a message, most e-mail programs automatically quote the entire message you're replying to in the reply. One of the problems we have on the list is that all too often people just automatically quote the entire message they are replying to. This clutters the Archives and Daily Digest (for people subscribed in digest mode). Your message to the list will be shorter and clearer if you quote only as much as you need to in order to make your point.

To delete text, you can just put the cursor at the end of the text you want to delete, and then delete characters by pressing the backspace key until you've deleted the text you want. But there is a much faster way! You can also select some text and then press the delete key, the backspace key, or CTRL-X, or go to the edit menu and select "cut". All of the selected text will be deleted.

If you don't want to quote any of the message you are replying to, you can get rid of the quoted text in only two keystrokes, CTRL-A to select all and then delete. Similarly you can clear the subject field or the to field with two key strokes.

Copying Text

First select the text you want to copy, then press CTRL-C to copy or go to the edit menu and select "Copy". Then use the mouse to place the cursor where you want the text to go and then either press CTRL-V, or go to the edit menu and select "Paste".

You may have noticed that I just described copying information from one message to another. In fact, the same methods will usually work to copy even from one program to another! For example, you could copy from a web page or word processing program to your e-mail message.

Use Delete and Copy Together to Reply to the Individual Rather than the List

The high number of messages is a big problem for many of our subscribers. You can help reduce list volume by replying to the individual rather than the entire list when it's appropriate.

If you're lucky, your e-mail program provides a button which causes the reply to be addressed to the individual rather than the list. But if not, you can easily use delete and copy together to change the e-mail address in the message's "To:" field from the list's address to the address of the individual you want to reply to.

First place the cursor in "To:" field of the reply message you are editing, then delete all of the text in the field to clear it. Then you need to find the e- mail address of the individual who wrote the message. You may find it in the quoted text of the body of the message. If your e-mail program shows the "From:" field of the original message you should find it there. You may have to open up the message in its own window to see the "From:" field. Once you find the address, copy it and paste it into the "To:" field of the message you are working on. You're done!

Moving Text

Sometimes when editing it's useful to re-arrange the text a little which means moving some of it from one place to another. To do this, first select the text you want to move. Then type CTRL-X to cut the text or go to the edit menu and select "Cut". Then paste the text to where you want to move it just as you did with a copy.

You can also move text with just the mouse. First select the text you want to move as before. Then after you let up on the mouse button, put the mouse cursor anywhere in the selected text and press the mouse button and then move the mouse while holding the button down. You will see that you are dragging the highlighted text around. When the mouse cursor is where you'd like to place the text simply release the button.


This Kidney-Onc FAQ Page By Steve Dunn. Copyright 2001-2002 Steve Dunn
Last Updated January 20, 2002