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This article will explain the process involved in sending an email. We will cover what happens from when an email is composed by the sender using an email software program or client to delivery in the recipient’s inbox.

Composing and Sending an Email

Most email clients like Outlook, Gmail and Apple Mail operate in the same manner when it comes to composing and sending an email.

In general, to create and send email, you start by opening a New Mail from your Mail App. Then compose an email, enter the recipient’s email address in the “To” field. Then type the subject in the subject line and compose the body of email. To send emails, just click on the “Send” button.

If you want to attach any files, you can click on the “Attach” icon/button and select the file(s) you want to send.

NOTE: If you would like more information on how to send documents via email, the please read our article: Sending Word & Excel Documents by Email

Transfer to an Outgoing Mail Server

Once the email is composed, it is sent using Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). When sending an email, it is first sent to an outgoing mail server via SMTP. The outgoing mail server then checks the email’s domain and address to direct it to the right place.

This is done via a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA), also referred to as a Message Transfer Agent, which is the sender’s mail server.

The MTA looks up the domain name of the recipient’s email address e.g., “@sendername.com,” in a Domain Name System (DNS) server using a Mail Exchange (MX) protocol to determine which email server connected to the recipient’s domain name to deliver the message to.

Read our Article: How to forward your email to your server and setting your MX records.

Delivering to the Recipient Server:

The MTA delivers the email to the recipient’s email server.

The receiving server accepts the message so that it can be delivered to the recipient. The recipient’s email client retrieves the message using the Post Office Protocol (POP) or Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) standards to download the email to the recipient’s server.

Inbox Delivery

The email then arrives at its intended recipient’s mailbox. The recipient’s own email client will allow them to open, read and respond to it.

Email Hosting

Additional Information:

Types of Email Protocol

When sending an email, there are various email protocols. These are a sets of commands that allow the transmission of email messages over the internet to or from the intended mail server from an email client. The most common email protocols used are:


This protocol is used for outgoing email and allows email clients and mail servers to communicate.


Used for incoming email. Allows access to an inbox stored in an email server. A POP3 client will connect to a server to retrieve messages delivered to the email account hosted on that server. It downloads them to a local computer and deletes them from the server. This means that you can also access the messages while offline.


An alternative to POP3 also used for incoming email.IMAP enables users to access and manage email on their server remotely. Multiple users can be logged in at the same time and all changes on the server are synchronized across all connected devices. All emails stay on the server until the user specifically deletes them.

Email Clients

Email clients are software programs that allow users to send, receive and manage emails. They can be standalone applications installed on a device such as Microsoft Outlook, or web-based like Gmail.

They often include additional features like calendar integration, spam and email filtering and email forwarding.

Email Sending Limitations

Be aware when you send email to multiple recipients, that there are certain email limitations that have to be adhered to. You can refer to our Article: What is the limit of email recipients for an email?, should you want more information about these email limits.

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