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I'm in a discussion about this. To me, since this is an electronic mail, it should be check your email, but the client insists on check your mail. My rationale is that email is for... well, emails, while mail is associated to physical mailing delivered by courier and post offices.

However, since English is not my native language ( not even the second), there's a chance I'm totally off. Besides, he's from US (hence English is his native language) and quite honestly, whether it's labeled as email or mail, I can't even imagine what to put in that field if not an email address, so at some point, the discussion seems quite abstract to me.

On top of this, does this change of words have an influence on usability? I mean, is "enter your mail" any different than "enter your email"? Or do users understand the same thing? And what about email vs e-mail?

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    I think in a vast majority of cases it'd be assumed to be email but why not remove ambiguity at the cost of one letter. – DasBeasto Sep 13 '16 at 17:31
  • "Check your mail" when meaning "email inbox" might work, but your later example is a different question. If I (a US citizen) saw "Enter your mail" that wouldn't make sense to me. "Enter your mail address" would still be confusing—it sounds more like it's asking for my physical street address. When talking about the actual address {address}@{provider}.{domain}, that's always called an email address. – maxathousand Jul 13 '18 at 14:03
  • Here's a question. Are you showing the user's email after you ask them to check their "mail?" Like so: "Check your mail at 'bob@gmail.com?' – Majo0od Aug 29 '19 at 12:28
  • Because if that's the case, then I think people will be less confused as to how to proceed? – Majo0od Aug 29 '19 at 12:29
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I think check your mail is incorrect but I don't think it will materially affect usability. There is a minority of users who may get confused but depending on the client's audience that proportion can be insignificant. E-mail and email are both accepted; Google's Ngram search shows e-mail to be the more popular variant.

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    didn't know Google had that tool, really interesting! :) – Devin Sep 13 '16 at 18:52
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To be honest, if I saw something online that said "check your mail (without having been exposed to this question)," I would know exactly what it meant and probably wouldn't think twice about it.

If you wanna get technical, then yes... "email" is more specific than "mail." Obviously. If I was designing it, I would say "email." But, if the client/PM decides they want it to say "mail," I would probably just change it and not offer any protest. You gotta pick your battles, and this one is probably one you just let go.

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This question reminds me of a long time ago when starting up AOL, a voice would often say "You've got mail." Since then it has become more and more accepted that "mail" in most cases is synonymous with "email." One example is on a Mac, there is a "Mail" app used to send "Messages" which of course is an email app.

On the flip side, if you are building an experience that involves a postal service or delivery service, where the user expects some level of interaction via their physical street address, then definitely you should distinguish between "Email" and "Mail."

If you are instructing the user to check their "email" for additional account setup instructions, for example, then one way that could increase the chances of success is to explicitly say "email" and not just "mail." I could see this be more of a consideration for an older demographic or for users that are not very technical in general.

Of course if the user just barely entered in their email address right before seeing this message, then "please check your mail" should have enough context to suggest email.

Seeing how these terms are often interchangeable, I see no major issues with either option. Along with what @Hill said, this doesn't seem like it's worth spending too time convincing your client to change. Simply state your concern and move on.

  • This usage of mail is quite awkward to me, so your examples are an eye opener. I never used AOL back then. And, although I heard the voice message in television and movies, that usage of mail never left an impression on me. I don't use Apple devices so I've never had an email client called mail. – Andre Dickson Sep 14 '16 at 7:01
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Check your email, If I were to read check your mail id be like, how did you mail me something I didn't give you my address. Which is the same paradigm address vs email address. It's email, through and through.

  • yes, that was my thought – Devin Sep 13 '16 at 18:50

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