How Email Works

Standard Email services flow through five basic steps to get from the sending computer to the receiving computer. There are subtle differences when an email client program is used on the computer, such as Outlook, or a web application is used. However the basic flow remains the same.

Step 1 The sending computer connects to a Transmit (Tx) server. The Tx server receives the email and will act on behalf on the sending computer to deliver the email to the recipient.
Step 2 The Tx server uses the “to” address in the email to find the domain name. For example a “to” address of “” has a domain of “”. The Tx server then requests from a DNS server the domain’s email server’s domain (perhaps “”) and then the IP address of that domain. The DNS server is not sent the email.
Step 3 The DNS server returns the requested IP address.
Step 4 The Transmit (Tx) server contacts the Receive (Rx) server and sends it the email.
Step 5 When the recipient connects to their email server, the Receive (Rx) server in our example, it will find the email present and download it.