How to fix your return email address

Question: I’m having trouble with my new e-mail address. I can send e-mail no problem, but people are telling me they get an error when they try to reply. More than one person has said this, so I think it’s something wrong in my e-mail set-up. Can you help? —L.H.

Answer: There are a series of options you need to set when you set up a new e-mail address for the first time. You want those who receive and reply to your e-mail to know who it’s from. As importantly, the recipient’s e-mail program needs to know what address to send a response to when they click their “reply” button.

If this is done incorrectly or if your return address is misspelled, responses to your e-mail probably won’t be delivered to you. Sometimes, when you buy a new computer, this is set up for you as “Preferred Customer”, which looks goofy when someone receives an e-mail from you.

If you want to see how your e-mails appear when they are received, try sending yourself an e-mail message. Then use your e-mail program to retrieve it and look at how it is listed in the in-box. Also, reply to the test e-mail to make sure the recipients of your e-mails can reply to you, just by clicking their Reply button.

If you receive an e-mail from me, you’ll get an item in your e-mail box that says it’s from “Andy Walker (TechnologyTips)”. A subject line is also always listed next to my name because I always fill it in when I send e-mails. Filling in the subject line helps the recipients know what the content of the e-mail is before they open it.

I like to use my name and affiliation because it instantly gives the recipient context. There is no question whom you received the e-mail from and perhaps where they sent it from. I include “TechnologyTips” in parentheses to indicate that I have sent you a message from my work account, but if you prefer, use a dash or comma, like “Andy Walker – TechnologyTips”.

Some people put their city or company name in brackets, or even “home” or “work”, after their name. This might be an especially good idea for you if you use multiple e-mail addresses from various locations.

Here’s how to set or change your return address information in three popular e-mail packages:

In Outlook 2000 and Outlook Express, click on the Tools menu, then Accounts. Choose the e-mail account you use regularly. One will be marked default. This is the main e-mail account that your system uses. If you only check one e-mail account, then only that one account will be listed. Select the account with a mouse click. Click on the Properties button. Under the General tab, type your name and affiliation. What you type there is what will appear in the recipient’s in-box when they receive an e-mail from you.

You can also fill in Organization if you want, although it is not necessary. Under E-mail address fill in your e-mail address. Under Reply address fill in the e-mail address that responses to your e-mails should be delivered to. If this is blank, responses will be sent to the address in the E-mail address box.

If you use Netscape Messenger, which comes with Netscape Communicator, here’s how to check your set-up.

Open Messenger and choose the Edit menu, then click on Preferences. In the box on the left click on Identity and enter your name and e-mail address and the reply to address. You can also add your organization name if you want. Then click OK.