Difference Between Email and IM

With the development of technology and science, new ways have been found to deliver messages without wasting a week on sending and receiving a single letter from one part of the world to the other.

Email and Instant Messaging software are examples of those platforms where one can send a text within a second just by using the internet.

Email vs IM

The main difference between email and IM is that through email, one cannot text back instantly, but instant messaging software allows users to do that. However, both of these platforms have their own importance. So, before using any of it, one needs to be well aware of what do they offer to their users.

Email vs IM

Email is nothing but a method to send a letter electronically from one device to the other. It is not a complex process.

For this, one needs to create his or her email address and to send or receive a letter, has to have stable internet connectivity along with an electronic device.

IM or Instant Messaging allows the users to connect with each other instantly. For this, both the users need to use the same instant messaging software.

However, one can simply surf through a web browser to use it or download the app. The biggest advantage of IM is that one can send unlimited data over it.

Comparison Table Between Email and IM

Parameters of ComparisonEmailIM
Full formElectronic MailInstant Messaging
DefinitionEmail allows to send and receive a letter electronically.Instant Messaging software allows users to exchange data instantly.       
RequirementsStable internet connection, an electronic device, valid email adress.Stable internet connection and an electronic device
File typesAudio, video, text messages, images.Audio, video, text messages, images, video calls or conferencing.
Data limitThere is a limitation on the quantity of data that can be sent through emails.Most of the IM software allows users to send unlimited data.       

What is Email?

Email or Electronic Mail is a kind of letter written by the sender to the receiver. Unlike handwritten letters, these messages can be electronically sent to the person only by using the internet.

Thus, it is a process that involves the usage of an electronic device like a mobile phone, personal computer, and stable internet connectivity.

When a person sends a letter, it goes through many processes before reaching the receiver. But in email, there is no investment of money, time waste, and the risk of losing the letter.

An email can be sent to any part of the world without sending a single penny.

To send an email, one needs to have an email address. There are three parts to it- user name, @, and domain name. However, there is a fixed format that everyone needs to follow to send an email.

It can be divided into two sections- header and body.

If a person is trying to send an email to another person, both of them need to have an email address.

Then the sender should compose the content following the SMTP protocol, including both of their email addresses, and then submits it to his or her mail submission agent.

Then the agent finds out the receiver’s destination address from the DNS server and ultimately reaches its final address.

What is IM?

IM or Instant Messaging, like email, is also a type of messaging but through a software program in real-time. In this method, both persons can interact with each other in real-time.

But both the users are required to use the same online platform. So it offers instantaneous transfer of messages from the sender to the receiver.

Various types of files, audio, video messages can be delivered, and also video conferencing is available on all these online platforms of instant messaging.

Unlike email, the messages can be read and replied to spontaneously. However, some of the platforms do not allow their users to open or receive their messages when they are in offline mode.

Here, messages can be sent to more than one person. It also has a feature that saves the messages in the form of text, audio, video for future reference.

There are two types of instant messaging software- application-based and web-based.

For the former, one needs to install the application on his or her device to message. But for web-based instant messaging, that software can be availed by logging through any type of web browser.

Some of the famous application-based instant messaging software is skype, google talk, yahoo, etc. However, there are many advantages of using instant messaging software.

Main Differences Between Email and IM

  1. An email might take a bit of time to reach the receiver. But for IM, messages are exchanged instantly. 
  2. Email users may use different software to send and receive mail. But for instant messaging, both the users should use the same instant messaging software. 
  3. Email does not require both users to be in online mode at the same time. On the other hand, instant messaging software users must be in online mode to read or deliver the message. 
  4. In an email, one can attach various files like audio, video, images, etc., but it cannot be used for video conferencing. But IM allows doing that. 
  5. In an email, there is a limitation over the quantity of data being sent. But in some of the IM software, that quantity is unlimited. 
Difference Between Email and IM


Based on the popularity of both of these platforms, one cannot decide whether to use it or not. The reason is both of them are used for different purposes.

Where email is mostly used for official and professional work, instant messaging apps are mainly for personal usage.

However, there is also a big difference in the deliverance of messages through both of these platforms.

Email does not tell its users whether the other person has logged in to his or her computer or not. But ims show the users whether the receiver has got the message or not.

Therefore, it mostly depends on the user and his or her requirements.


  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/fullHtml/10.1145/238386.238530
  2. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/1180875.1180941
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