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Check Your Email while at the Library

Free Email Providers

AOL | Gmail | Hotmail | YahooMail | more

In Spanish: Gmail | Hotmail | YahooMail | more

Madison Public Library does not offer or maintain email accounts on its own server. Following are recommendations for free, web-based email providers.

Free email providers like Hotmail often charge for "premium" accounts. They still have free account options, but they may not be as well advertised.

It is very important when using free email services that you keep track of your password and ID, and also that you delete messages and empty your "trash" on a regular basis. If you lose your password/ID, or if your mailbox becomes too full, you will not be able to access your free email. These free email providers generally don't offer a telephone number you can call for help, which means you'll have to start over with a new account. Gmail offers higher storage limits and may be the best choice if you're expecting to regularly receive large documents or photos via email.

CAUTION: If you're accessing your free email account from Madison Public Library's public access computers, please be aware that there may be some security concerns. When you are finished, please be sure to log off of the computer; this will erase all personal information from your session.

Checking Your Email Away from Home

If you have web-based email like Yahoo or Hotmail, you can check your existing email account from any machine with Internet access. But you may also be able to check your commercial email via the web while you're away from your own computer. Following is a list of known providers in the local service area who offer web access.

America Online (AOL) -

Charter Communications - (Charter customers only)

TDSnet/Chorus - (TDSnet/Chorus customers only)

UW-Madison - (UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff only)

Other businesses, government agencies, and commercial providers may provide their own web-based email equivalent. Contact your employer or commercial internet provider for more information.

If you don't use one of the above services, there are other web sites that will let you check an existing email account via the web. The one recommended below may or may not work for your existing email address, as many employers, government agencies, and some commercial internet providers block this type of access. Many of the free email accounts above also offer this service.

Mail2Web - 
A free service which allows you to check existing accounts without creating an additional email account.

In addition, if you need to check to see that an email has been received and opened, you might want to try ReadNotify --

Finally, there are many, many other free email providers. You can find them at:

Free Email Address Directory -
Offers links to hundreds of general and specific email address providers, including both free and fee-based. Also offers tips on understanding email, email tutorials, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions about Email

What is the best free email service? We really can't say. Various library staff have accounts with all the recommended free email providers listed above, but one might work better than another for your individual needs. We can say that Hotmail users have sometimes experienced more problems on our public access stations. For more advice, visit the Free Email Address Directory fact sheet at

How can I get a commercial (fee-based) email account? Commercial email service is provided by a number of local and national services, such as AOL or MSN. For a list of Madison and Wisconsin Internet Service Providers (ISPs), see your local yellow pages or check your local newspaper ads. Make sure the provider you choose covers the area in which you reside. 

How can I find someone's email address? Email address directories are not as standardized as telephone or address directories. Many email addressess are never published in any public directory. If you know where the person works, you might want to try locating that company's or organization's web site and checking to see if there is an email address directory available. If you know that person has email through a particular provider (for example, Yahoo), you can check the provider's directory, keeping in mind people can choose not to have their name and address published. There are also general email address directoriesthat might have the email address you need, and many online phone directories allow email searches, too.

More Questions and Answers, courtesy of Free Email Address Directory -

Related Resources

Community Internet Locations

Locations across the community where you can access the Internet

Internet and Computer Access

Reserve a computer or find out about using computers and the Internet at the Library

Job Assistance and Computer Training

One-on-one job seeking and computer training services at the library