Monday, October 1, 2001

Surf the Web using email


By Michael Connick

In August, I talked about using email technology to push Internet data onto your Palm handheld. This month I'm going to show you how to use email to retrieve Web pages.

Why would I want to access Web pages using email?

There are a couple of good reasons for wanting to access the Web using something other than a browser program on your Palm handheld. First of all, you may not have any kind of browser on your Palm handheld. Second, even if you have Web browser software on your Palm handheld, you're likely to find it very slow going compared to using a PC-based browser. The ability to just send an email message to retrieve a Web page for you is a very easy way of getting the information you need from the Web.

How can I fetch a Web page using email?

You retrieve a Web page by sending an email message to something called a "Web-to-email Server". There are actually quite a few of these servers available, and they are all completely free of charge. Some of them have limits on how often you can use them, but the volume of data the typical Palm handheld user will be requesting shouldn't be a problem with any of them.

What Web-to-email server should I use?

The Web-to-email Server I've had the most success with is This server actually offers a plethora of services and will even allow you to retrieve binary data from the Web. Of course Palm handheld owners are going to want the simplest service from this server: the retrieval of text data and links from a Web page returned in the body of an email message. Any graphics contained on the Web page will be removed.

In addition to the www4mail server, there are Agora servers (like and GetWeb servers (like All of these services work slightly differently, but all of them allow you to retrieve data from Web pages via email. If you're interested in receiving more information about these servers, send an email message to the above mentioned email addresses with just the word "help" (without the quotes) in the body of the message.

How do I use the www4mail server?

What you do is compose an email message to You can put anything you want, including nothing at all, in the Subject of the message. However, you need to put the following command in the body of the email message:


For URL, substitute the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the site from which you want to retrieve text. For example, if you'd like to retrieve the text contained in my Palm OS-oriented Web page, you would put the following in the body of your email message: