Exactly How Emails Works – Steps and Explanation

Emails represent one of the best ways to communicate with people in both private and professional causes. Also, with advancements in digital technology, email services managed to completely replace the traditional mailing system. However, while most of us are using email services every day, most of us never thought about how this system actually works, and who has control over that system.

The e-mail was introduced during the 60s for the first time and became available during the 70s. Modern email services provide us with many advanced features and abilities. There are many benefits of using this service, especially for companies that can make mailing lists, communicate with their employees or clients, or promote their business with email marketing. You could also read emails of your children or employees that are using the company’s email. You can visit here to read more about that ability.

Having an email address today is mandatory for creating an account on almost every website, social media, smartphone app, and more. While you can use social media to promote your business, the official way of sending some offers is by sending an email to a potential client. Also, you can receive bills over an email today, and many other things which will save you a lot of time. If you are interested in learning the basics of how email is functioning, we made a step-by-step analysis and explanation about all processes related to email.

Email Servers

Source: Dealna

There are two main servers for any type of email service, one is for incoming messages, and another for ones that we send. For incoming messages, there is The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, which is using your address and information to send an email to other recipients. On the other hand, the Mail Transfer Agent is responsible for delivering messages, and it is using the SMTP protocol to send and deliver mails.

When it comes to MTA, you can choose between two versions, one is software like Outlook, where you can manage your emails, and another one is based on an online platform, such as Gmail. Every user can use his computer as a mail transfer agent, which is a simple process. However, sending and receiving a great number of emails is much easier with a service like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and others. Also, you can collect a lot of spam, viruses, and malicious files if you are using TCP port 25, which is necessary to send an email directly from your PC. That is the main reason why is it safer to choose some email service.

How Email Works?

Source: unsplash.com

When you send an email, the message will pass through several servers with the help of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, which will lead it to the recipient. The process is similar to the traditional sending of a letter to someone, where the SMTP will act as a mailman and redirect the mail on the correct address. Also, the server is using your IP address. During the process, the MTA server will take the email from SMTP, and by using IMAP and POP protocols, deliver it on the right address.

Email Protocols

Source: GigeNET

We have already mentioned MTA, the Mail Transfer Agent, which represents the main protocol when it comes to sending and receiving mails. This protocol is using SMTP, MDA, POP3, and IMAP protocols. POP or Post Office Protocol represents software for recovering emails, which is responsible for keeping all mails that we receive to be available all the time. On the other side, this service is outdated today, because you will have to use your email only from one device.

Moreover, there is an upgraded version of the POP protocol, the IMAP, Internet Message Access Protocol, which will save all your emails on a server and make them available on various devices. IMAP is very important because its service allows users to save all of their emails in one place, and have access to them from both PC and smartphone devices, and different networks.

How Email is Received

Source: Windows Report

We can compare the email processes with the traditional way of sending and receiving mails. Several protocols act as a mailman and use servers and addresses to share emails. Both sides need to provide their addresses and basic info because those data are necessary for the server to carry an email from one to another address. There is also an option to recover any email you have sent or received by using the Mail User Agent. That is a program you need to install on your computer. Some of the most popular versions are Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, and Lotus Notes. There are also online platforms like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail that have the same function.

The Structure of Email

Source: unsplash.com

Like with standard letters, the first thing you need to provide is the address of the recipient. However, while there was a possibility to send anonymous letters, there is no possibility when it comes to electronic mail. The header of an email contains the most important data such as addresses of the sender and recipient along with the date when email was sent.


There are various protocols responsible for the successful sending and receiving of emails. The process of sending emails is using similar resources, like any other data on the Internet, like IP and TCP protocols. When you send an email, the TCP protocol will break it down in several pieces to separate the addresses of both sender and the recipient. Moreover, the IP protocol will determine the right address of the receiver. Also, you should know that many factors could affect the speed of sending an email like traffic and speed of the network. At the end, when the mail is received on the right address, the TCP protocol with again combine all of the pieces in the format that was sent. Besides the most common ways to store and send emails like Gmail or Outlook, you can use email hosting, where you can create a private server and cloud, which will increase safety. Most companies today, especially bigger ones, are using this option.