A computer mailing address which is used properly route electronic mail.
Your e-mail address is your unique identifier on the Net. Similar to your home address or PO Box, your e-mail address allows anyone to send you messages, pictures, newsletters, marketing promotions, and anything else e-mail can be used for. Because no two people can register the same e-mail address, they are also commonly used for in place of user names for websites that require a login information.
Also See: Understanding E-mail Addresses
Frequently Asked Questions
How does my computer know where to send mail for a specific e-mail address?
An e-mail address has two parts: Your user name (before the @ sign) and your domain name (after the @ sign). For instance, if your e-mail address is [email protected], “Person” is your username and “madeupwebsite.com” is your domain name. When you send an e-mail to someone, your e-mail client sends it to your mail server, which then checks the domain name portion of the e-mail address and checks it against the local DNS listing to find out where that domain is hosted. It can then send your message to that domain’s mail server, which will check the user name and drop it in the appropriate mailbox.
Much like your home address or PO Box, your e-mail address is unique to you. No one else can register the exact same e-mail address. It’s possible for someone to have the same user name, just with a different domain (think of this as someone having the same PO Box number, but in a different town). And chances are there are plenty of people who share the same domain as you. But no one else can register the exact same user name and domain name combination.
Of course, once you’ve registered your e-mail address, you can choose to share it with someone you know, so long as you don’t mind them seeing all of your messages too. It’s not uncommon for spouses or even entire families to share a single e-mail address. In fact, this can be a useful way to monitor your children’s online activity.
Can I send e-mail to someone using a different type of computer?
Different computers handle e-mail differently, but thankfully there are common protocols that are used by all devices on the Internet to manage e-mail. Regardless of what type of computer or mobile device you are running, when you send an e-mail to someone your device will use these common protocols to communicate with your mail server, which will then use other common protocols to contact the recipient’s mail server and transfer the message. Since every machine is using these common protocols to communicate across the Net, it doesn’t matter how they handle e-mail individually.