The Hostway Blog

Managing Multiple Identities

Whether you own your own business or you are an employee of a small business, it may be necessary to manage multiple identities online. The average person has at least two email addresses — one of personal or home use and one for business. However, if you have been using the Internet 10 years or more, you may find that you have up to 10 email addresses and no idea how to manage them all.

How Email Works

In order to manage your online identities, you must first understand how your email system works. When you receive an email, the actual content of the email is stored on your ISP's computer in a file that has your identity — this is your mailbox. Each mailbox has its own username or email address. Using that email address points email messages to your unique mailbox.

Aliases

When you make another email address, or pointer, to the same mailbox, this is called an alias. As a business owner, you may have access to several email addresses within your company domain name. You could be responsible for email addresses such as contact@yourcompany.com, customerservice@yourcompany.com and manager@yourcompany.com. You can use aliases to point all of those addresses to the same inbox where you can read and respond more easily.

Outlook

There are other ways that you can manage multiple identities online. One option is to use Outlook Express. Most office computers come already loaded with Outlook and can be easily configured to manage several email accounts. To make sure that employees receive only the emails that should go to them, you will need to change the settings under the Tools menu. There is a good tutorial for how to do this at the Microsoft Web site.

Thunderbird

Another popular way is to use an email client called Thunderbird. This program is easy to set up and is very helpful with eliminating spam, managing multiple email addresses, forwarding messages and using custom settings. Using Thunderbird, you can enter information about all your email accounts and check them all in one place within the Thunderbird client.

Responding to email messages in Thunderbird is easy. Simply hit reply on the email you wish to respond to and Thunderbird will automatically use the address the email was originally sent to as the return address of the email. This is helpful so that you don't respond to a customer complaint from a generic email address.

When you reply, forward or compose a new email message in Thunderbird, you can select an email identity from any of your email accounts from a drop-down menu. You can also create unique signatures and folders for each email account that you have. Thunderbird can even manage all the email accounts that were created in your business domain.

Managing multiple email identities can be tricky, but with the help of easily accessible online tools, you and your business should be able to successfully read and respond to all emails.