How to retrieve e-mail when away from home or work

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

Tip: If you do not plan on reading your e-mail, consider setting up an out of office notification.

EmailIn some situations, when you're away from your computer for an extended amount of time, you may want to be able to access and read your incoming e-mail. Below are some of the different methods you can use to get your e-mail when away from your computer.

Tip: If you have an e-mail account with Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail (now called, you can access your email from any computer using a web browser. Access the Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo e-mail login page and login to access your e-mail online.

Note: If you are trying to access e-mail while abroad, you may be asked for a code to access the account. This feature of requires you to have a mobile device with you to receive the code to unlock your account.

Retrieving e-mail when away from home

Note: All of the below suggestions require Internet access. If you're not going to have Internet access while away, there are different locations where you can go to get Internet access.

E-mail client

If you plan on taking a laptop on the road, you can receive messages by configuring the e-mail client on the laptop with your e-mail or ISP e-mail (POP and SMTP) settings. Your e-mail provider should be able to provide instructions on how to set this up.

Tip: To have e-mail on your laptop and computer at home make sure to set up the e-mail client to leave a copy of messages on the server.

Web e-mail

Today, many ISPs (Internet service providers) and e-mail providers offer some form of web e-mail. If available, you can access your e-mail from anywhere you can access the Internet.

To see if this option is available, you need to contact your Internet service provider or visit their web page and look for a personal page or online e-mail section. If offered, they should be able to provide instructions on how to set this up.

Forward e-mail or a copy of the e-mail

Rules can be set up in the e-mail client on your computer to forward all messages or only specific e-mails you receive to another e-mail account.

Note: For this to work, your home computer would need to remain on during the time you're away. If your computer is turned off or restarted, this could cause you to not receive your mail.

Below is a basic example of how this could be done using Microsoft Outlook.

  1. Create an alternative online e-mail address with a service such as Gmail or Hotmail.
  2. Open Microsoft Outlook.
  3. In Outlook 2003 or earlier, click Tools > Rules Wizard, then click the New button.
  4. In Outlook 2007 and later, on the Home tab, click the Rules option and select Create Rule.
  5. Click the New button.
  6. Set up the new rule with details similar to the rule below:
  • Check Messages when they arrive
  • Where my name is in the To box
  • Forward it to people or distribution list
  • Enter an alternative e-mail address

E-mail on a Smartphone

You may be able to receive your e-mail on your smartphone device. Check with your e-mail provider to determine if this option is available for your e-mail account and for instructions on how to configure your smartphone.

Retrieving e-mail when away from work or school

Caution: Before trying any of the below suggestions, keep in mind that some companies prohibit any access to e-mail or other company confidential information from outside your office. Ask your employer first; and while asking, see if they have any solutions already set up that allow you to access mail while not at work.

Note: All of the below suggestions require Internet access. If you're not going to have Internet access while away, there are different locations where you can go to get Internet access.

Web mail

Many businesses have web mail solutions that allow users inside the corporate intranet or on the outside Internet to access their e-mail from anywhere with Internet access.

If your employer offers this solution, logging into your company's web mail site should provide you access to your e-mail.

Again, you need to check with your employer to see if this option is available and, if available, the steps required to get access to it.

VPN or Virtual Office

If available at your work, connecting to your work through a VPN or virtual office can allow you to gain access to read and send mail from your work computer.

Forward e-mail

Corporate networks with e-mail servers can set up e-mails to be forwarded to alternative accounts if needed. Contact your network administrator or e-mail administrator to see if this is possible.

Alternatively, your work computer could also be set up to forward e-mails to an alternative e-mail address using that explained in the above home instructions.

E-mail on a Smartphone

Many companies are now allowing e-mail to be retrieved, viewed, and sent from a smartphone device. Android and Apple iPhones are capable of receiving and sending e-mail and, if your company offers this, you may be able to have your smartphone configured to receive your work e-mail.

Check with your company's IT department to see if this option is available and for help with configuring your phone.

Additional information