Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

4.15. How do I send mail from the Internet to another network or online service?

In the best of worlds, our "global village" of electronic mail would be linked by one main street. Alas, it is actually composed of hundreds of small networks linked using gateways. One main street is the Internet, but jutting off of it are dozens of side roads leading to other networks. It's always simplest to send mail to a recipient on the same online service as yourself--say, from your America Online account to another--but sometimes you may need to send mail to someone who doesn't have an account on the system you use. Although it's usually possible to mail from one network to another, you need to know the right route. To send any mail, you need to know the online service your recipients use and their names (or usernames) on that service.

For a complete and up-to-date listing of how to send mail from just about any network to any other, read the "Inter-Network Mail Guide" edited by Scott Yanoff. You can fetch this guide by anonymous FTP in

It's also available on the Usenet newsgroups comp.mail.misc,, and news.answers.

America Online.

Use all lowercase and remove any spaces in the AOL username. For example, AOL splits long Internet e-mail messages into chunks under 27K. Users of the DOS-based PC/AOL software are limited to a maximum mail size of 8Kb. For all AOL users, funky characters (hearts, moons, clovers, diamonds and any other non-alphanumeric characters your terminal can conjure up) are replaced with spaces.


AT&T Mail.

Bitnet. user@host.bitnet

(The Bitnet hostname isn't necessarily the same as the Internet host name.) If this fails, your machine's SMTP server may not be up to date, so try directing your mail through a gateway such as,, or The address would be as follows: (or cunyvm or wuvmd).



Use the recipient's numeric CompuServe identification number, but use a period instead of a comma to separate the number sets. For example, to send mail to CompuServe user 17770,101, mail to





To send mail to FidoNet users, you not only need the names, but the exact FidoNet addresses they use. FidoNet addresses are broken down into zones, net, nodes, and (optionally) points. For example, the address of one Fido BBS is 1:102/834. The zone is 1, the net is 102, the node is 834. A user's address could include a point as well: 1:102/834.1; the final 1 is the point. So to send mail to John Smith at Fido address 1:102/834, e-mail to To send mail to that user at Fido address 1:102/834.1, e-mail to


Where user is their mail address. If a user tells you their mail address is xyz12345 or something similar, it isn't. It usually looks like A.BEEBER42 where A is their first initial, BEEBER is their last name, and 42 is a number distinguishing them from all other A.BEEBER's.

Internet. user@host.domain

Where user is the recipient's login name, and domain is the full name and location of the computer where he or she receives e-mail. Examples are and

MCI Mail.

User can be a numeric identification (which is always 7 digits long or 3 zeroes followed by 7 digits), their account name (which is one word) or first and last names separated with an underline. (for example,, or

National Videotext Network.

NVN is another national online service, a la delphi, but less well known. I think it should stay.

NVN and eWorld and the WELL conform to the basic user@host.domain format, agreed. However that doesn't mean that the reader-user knows what the host.domain is for a particular service. That's why they are included, and why I think they should stay.

PC Link.

Incoming mail is limited to 27K. (There is no domain. PC Link is owned by America Online, hence the domain.)


A user ID looks like BVXF64A.

Whole Earth 'lectronic Link (WELL).

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