Best Free Email Software


With so many clients now in the cloud, rather than on the desktop, email clients have certainly taken a turn over the past few years. So, to differentiate themselves, the desktop clients have become more advanced and offer more and more features to keep customers interested.

For most users finding a good email client can mean the difference between getting on with your work or hitting your head against a desk in frustration.

Here's a list of the best email clients reviewed and compiled to save you from heart/headache. For ease of use I've split the review into two different categories, desktop and web-based.

  Read this article in Spanish (Español)

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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide


Mozilla ThunderbirdMozilla Thunderbird is a free, open source POP and IMAP email client developed by, the same folks who brought you Firefox. Feature-wise it sits somewhere between Outlook Express and Outlook, which means that it offers an upgrade to Express users and a downgrade to those who use the more advanced PIM features of Outlook.  Additional features can be added through free extensions. Notable among these is Webmail, an extension that allows POP3 access to webmail services operated by Yahoo, Hotmail, Lycos, MailDotCom, Gmail and Libero. Thunderbird email files can be indexed by the Google, Yahoo! and Copernic desktop search programs.

Outlook Express users should seriously consider switching. You’ll be rewarded with a more advanced product with these features:

  • built-in spam filtering and RSS reader
  • message color coding
  • fast email search
  • anti-phishing measures
  • spell check as you type
  • inbox filters
  • Kerberos authentication
  • automatic updates
  • the ability to view your mail in conversational threads.

On top of that, the product is more secure than Outlook Express and, unlike the latter, is still being actively developed. Switching is made easier by the fact that Thunderbird looks and works similar to Outlook Express. Tools within Thunderbird also allow you to easily import your Outlook Express account settings and stored email. If you need assistance, there is an excellent guide from Mozilla available for download in the Quick Selection Guide section below.


OperaAnother good option, that many people are not aware of, comes from the same source as Opera browser. The folks at Opera call it their M2 Mail Client. Although there is no calendar in this program as in Outlook (it wasn't meant to compete with Outlook anyway), it is still quite powerful. This email client is a combined email database, news reader, mailing list organizer and RSS news feed reader, and it supports both POP3 and IMAP protocols. My experience with it was quite pleasant. It was easy to set up, very intuitive to use, and it easily found any contact I had ever had email correspondence with. Overall, it's a very nice product.



FoxmailDespite the name Foxmail, it is not related to Firefox, but comes out of China. It's an impressive product with features that match or exceed Thunderbird's, and it's also very easy to use. My only real beef is the quality of the help files. Yes, they have been translated to English, but rather poorly; so poorly that they are actually quite amusing. With version 6.5 Beta 3 Foxmail now supports the IMAP protocol, which is a big deal for some. If you are savvy enough to figure out the program yourself, Foxmail is worthy of consideration.  It's a top product with eight million users world-wide, and it's a real alternative to Thunderbird. If you need help there's a link in the Quick Selection Guide section.


Incredimail is an email client currently in version 2.0 that supports both IMAP, POP3 and Webmail accounts. The basic version is free to download and use, however additional features like animations, themes and junk filters require you to upgrade to the premium service so that is something to watch out for.

The user interface is well polished with basic animations that pop up when you receive a new email or if you delete one. This is a nice touch but can get in the way, it can however be disabled.

Incredimail supports Webmail accounts for GMail, Yahoo, AOL and Windows Live Hotmail.

The initial setup was fairly painless, the software detected the settings I had for Outlook although it got one of the port numbers wrong, but that was an easy fix in the settings. It also downloaded all the existing emails in my inbox and transferred them.

However, you are required to select the tool-bar integration and have Incredimail as your default search engine before you can proceed.

As a basic email client that can handle all of the main accounts, this is a very easy to set up and capable program, but it's limited by the need to upgrade for other main features.


eM Client is a popular client for Windows (XP - 7) that supports all popular webmails as well as POP3 and IMAP. Upon downloading you get a 30 day free trial, which grants you all the features, but the free license constricts you to only 2 email addresses per user.

The user interface for eM Client is certainly very swish (I haven't said that in a while...), and certainly looks and feels premium when using. There are no ads, or gimmicks, just a clean interface, not dissimilar to Outlook 2003. Initial setup is very easy, allowing you to import your accounts and settings from the clients already installed on your computer; and even manual setup was very easy, a nice interface to guide you through.

eM Client is certainly one of the better looking clients available for Windows however, the free version is held back by the account restriction to only two email addresses.


GmailLet's get this one done first! Gmail, arguably the most popular webmail client at the moment, integrating deeply into the Google ecosystem and offering more features than it ever has before. On that note, features wise, it has a lot that you would expect such as:

  • works with both POP and IMAP
  • arrange emails into folders by adding 'Labels'
  • filters
  • contacts and tasks can be added and amended.

You'll find you'll get a lot more out of Gmail if you use other Google products. For example, if you use Google+ (which, realistically, you don't, but hypothetically...) you can chat right in the Gmail window, you can also view your circles on the right hand sidebar. Another great feature is Google Labs which is a series of add-ons that you can use to customise your Gmail; it's a very nice feature for more advanced users and it's great to see this amount of customization in a webmail client. 

Although Gmail is free, there are ads displayed at the top of the list of emails which is fairly unobtrusive, but can make things look a bit cluttered and at first for me when I tested it, a little confusing as I wasn't expecting it.

You get 10GB of space for free, but if you need more (again, realistically, you won't), Google offer monthly payment plans to get you more space, which can go up to 16TB.

Gmail is at its peak, but there are downsides, the adverts while discrete can annoy some users and the Google+ integration can seem annoying if you don't use it; however, all that put aside, it's certainly a stylistic, elegant email client and offers a great number of features.


OutlookOutlook (the new Hotmail), Microsoft's really gone all out with it's Modern UI! It's taking all their products by storm, and Hotmail's next on the list. The new user interface of Outlook is very simple, with the layout of Hotmail remaining largely intact, but with better visuals that newcomers should find more appealing. Setup is fairly simple (or if you have a Microsoft account already, non-existent), like Gmail it provides options to get your old emails forwarded to one email address or access them directly through POP3 or IMAP support.

Some nice features include: being able to delete all emails by a certain sender, or even choosing how many emails from that sender to keep before automatically deleting old ones; automated replies for when you're away from your computer; as well as filters and folder; and all that jazz. Also, being able to import up to 4 POP3 accounts should keep most users satisfied. The built-in contact list 'People' is very modern, as is the calendar, but both put style over functionality as it can sometimes be difficult to access the advanced options.

On the down side, if you're not a fan of the UI, it is everywhere and while for the time being you can swap back to Hotmail view, I wouldn't expect that to stick around. 

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Quick Selection Guide

Mozilla Thunderbird

Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Combines a web service with a stand-alone program
Customizable and expandable through add-ons, intuitive user interface.
No native support for web-mail clients such as GMail or Hotmail.
25.3 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.

Opera (M2 Mail Client)

Combines a web service with a stand-alone program
Built-in spam filter works right out-of-the-box, easy and intuitive to use.
No support for secure message signing or encryption.
12.6 MB
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Opera language files can be downloaded here:


Combines a web service with a stand-alone program
Intuitive and easy to use, has many of the same features as Thunderbird.
Help files are not very good.
7.2 Build 5.140
34.3 MB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
The FoxMail English FAQ can be foundhere: Note: If after installing, the program comes up in Chinese, all you have to do is delete the file chinese.lgb in the installation folder. Developer's website is in Chinese. v7.1 BUILD 3.052 released 11 October, 2013


Is a web service or web application
Can be linked to other Google Products e.g. Calender, Buzz, Talk
Has advertising, a little cluttered in it's present form, need to pay for additional storage.
Unrestricted freeware
Gmail Blog Help and Support Supports the following browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox 3.5+, Internet Explorer 7.0+, Safari 3.0+ (Only Google Chrome supports Desktop Notifications)


Combines a web service with a stand-alone program
Easy set-up, supports POP3, IMAP and WebMail
Need to upgrade for some features
11.6 MB
Feature limited freeware

This software review is copy-edited by Glyn Burgess. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

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Eudora 7 is still working fine under Windows 10 Creators. However, following a reboot, it fails to download on first attempt, but always works on second and all subsequent attempts. At least this is on our three systems. IMO still the best em client - only negatives are that it does not auto spell-check and cannot handle some fonts. Otherwise excellent.

I respectfully submit that the BEST email client for those: 1) sick of Microsoft Outlook, and 2) Still want to keep email on their own local computer is "eM Client" @ Imports every thing including settings and will have you up and running in minutes flat. The eM Client performance is 10 times that of Microsoft Outlook 2010.

I wouldn't vote for it as the best free email client for the same reason as the reviewer says: "eM Client is certainly one of the better looking clients available for Windows however, the free version is held back by the account restriction to only two email addresses."

This is the one massive limitation with the free version. Being limited to two email accounts excludes many email users on Windows. Today it is typical for Windows users to have at least three email accounts. For example, a Microsoft account for their Windows PC, a Google/Apple account for their phone (Windows Mobile market share is tiny) plus they have an account with their ISP. On top of that there could be accounts for volunteering with, or administering of, sports clubs, websites like this one, schools, etc.

For what it's worth - recently spent a day moving my partner's emails from Mac to new PC - chose Thunderbird, running on W10, as we have about 10 POP accounts. Made sure all mailboxes were empty at servers pre transfer. All fine initially but after a couple of days - practically impossible to get mails. Quick search online shows that recent updates to TB seem to have messed up POP3 access big time and have left many frustrated and annoyed users? Fortunately we are still running in parallel on the Mac so not lost anything and had set TB to "Leave messages on server" before unleashing it!

Not sure whether to try Opera or accept the inevitable and go to Gmail (as we need to be able to get and respond to mail under the original accounts)

So - for POP3, no Thunderbird - IMHO

Thanks for other advice on this site.

Great point about the increase of mobiles as a place for checking email. I'm one of those dinosaurs that prefers a mail client on a computer. I use gmail and have tried to love Google's online interface, but I just can't. Labelling emails and then selecting them to archive them seems so much less efficient than dragging them to a folder in a client. Has anyone tried Fossamail? I've been using Pale Moon browser for a year or so but have only heard of Fossamail recently. Any possibility of a review? Thanks.

I'm only acting as custodian for this review so there will not be any substantial updates to it until someone volunteers to take it over. Reviews for FossaMail in other places are somewhat mixed but the most believable sources are all positive.

I'm predominantly a Linux user and installed FossaMail into Mint 17.3 x64 KDE. It launches fine but crashes with a segmentation fault whenever a menu item is clicked. I've now fired up my Win 7 desktop and installed it into that. I'll run with this for a while and see how it goes. MC - Site Manager.

Thanks a lot. It's been working fine for me so far, some points about it I've noticed are:
- adding imap accounts was straightforward
- no memory leaks so far
- like TB you can have a unified inbox which I really appreciate
- the search function is, I think, the way TB used to be. When you type an item in a search box it brings up a new tab with filters on the left and the emails on the right in a view that shows the header and first few lines of each email. There's also an icon and when you click on it it shows a timeline of those emails like this -
- I guess it may have a longer life expectancy than Thunderbird.
- for the normal user, really very similar to Thunderbird, no major difference in speed or stability. For anyone happy with TB I wouldn't see any need to change. Pale Moon fans will want to "complete the set."

Email clients - for personal use - is like outdated now. Most people now a days use online emails.

The majority, about two thirds of emails, are opened using email clients. The big change has been the move from using the desktop to using mobile devices which is now half of all emails opened. Webmail is increasing and it might equal client opens in another two or three years at current rates of increase.

You don't have to search far to find those stats, e.g.:

First, I was talking about personal emails.

Second, Can email on mobile devices be counted as webmail or client?

1. Although there are statistics on whether email accounts are setup for business/public versus personal use, there is no widely-used methodology to determine which emails are for business or public use and which are private and personal.,_Executive_Summary.pdf is one example of this where they simply summarise the type of service that the email originates from.

A growing trend is for personal communications on social media and instant messaging rather than on email. But even there it is not clear what the actual breakdown is of messages.

2. Mobile devices use email clients too. Webmail is browser-based.

Many reports show mobile email clients replacing webmail use hence the decline in webmail, e.g.

I agree with listing Eudora here. I have been using Eudora since there was an Internet and am still using it with no problems on a Win 7 Pro x32 system, running in Win XP SP3 compatibility mode.

There is an on-going thread discussing e-mail clients at that some may find useful.

Also, it turns out that in Win 7 and Win 8/8.1/8.1 Update, Microsoft carried over their e-mail client from Vista(!), Windows Mail — but they deactivated it (because they’re Microsoft).

HOWEVER, for those who liked that [very likely singular] feature of Vista, or XP’s Outlook Express (to which it is a very similar, though not identical, update), it is possible to activate Windows Mail in the aforementioned operating systems; see (the specific instructions for Win 8 are lower down the page).

Needless to say, one would do well to carefully read through the instructions a couple of times — AND also create a Restore Point — before proceeding.

I just felt i had to comment to maby save some guys headache.
I used Incredimail for many years and it served the purpose for me!
What im anoyed with is that in their updated versions you muct pay the yearly fee to be able to use the builtin backup feature =(
I think they are too unclear about this, and even about the cost is only a yearly fee.
Also worht knowing is if you still use a older version and use that builtin backup system you might end up loosing emails like i did.
I did a "succesful" backup, and "succesful" import, still 2 years of inbox emails was lost :(

Thats why im now looking for a new email client =(

Might look into Mozilla Thunderbird on your advice.

/ Lefkas

So, it seems we're going to get back Opera Mail & Opera again: Vivaldi is the new Opera and they will add an email client as well.
Judging from what they did so far with the Browser and how much it resembles the original idea of Opera, I wouldn't be surprised if the email client would look quite similar to the old good M2.
We'll see, but this sounds exciting.

I wanted a small fast bare-bones email client so I can have a backup of my online emails. DreamMail looked good at 10meg, but when I started researching it I found it has a vulnerability.

dreamMail e-mail client v4.6.9.2 Stored XSS Vulnerability
DreamMail is prone to an HTML-injection vulnerability because it fails to sufficiently sanitize user-supplied data.

It's recommended that you do not use it.

Thank you for sharing this information Old Grey. In light of these developments we have now removed DreamMail from the review. MC - Site Manager.


Sorry for posting about Outlook, I forgot about posting freeware only.
The interesting thing though is that even a paid product sometimes can't compete with good freeware (especially considered when they have so many flaws!)

Edit: Strange, I clicked on Reply to your comment but it didn't work, my reply shows up as a new post.

As you say, good freeware products often beat paid products. That is why this site exists. Sorry, the problem you had replying to my comment has been seen before. I couldn't find any identified cause or resolution for it in the forum where it has been discussed in a couple of threads. No problem about the Outlook comments. It is not just whether it is freeware but whether the mention of the paid product is useful in relation to free products. You'll notice that we have lots of stuff on Windows because it is required to run free software and we do have mentions of Outlook because it is the paid product against which all other email programs are compared. So if you'd presented your comments as part of a comparison of free email and Outlook they would have been left in. But a list of deficiencies you found in Outlook is not acceptable without any reference to freeware. Anyway, I read them through and checked some of them out. The difficulty with comparing a standalone program with one program in a suite is that the suite utilizes other programs to provide additional features. Taking the example of multi-language spell checking, which is useful for many people, Pegasus Mail has a real advantage. However, Office can do it using Word which does handle multi-language text.

I think I've tried them all, all the email clients out there (if not all, 99% of the existing clients).
I've been a TB user for years, finding it probably the closest one to fit my needs.
I switched to PMail after having used it years ago, and now it's my default client. Despite it's old fashion interface (and I must admit not very pleasant as well), it's probably the most powerful client out there, the most solid and the most robust. Also I might be wrong, but as far as I know it's the only client that check messages using two spell-checker at once. Filters is another great feature of Pmail, as well as the integrated spamhalter. I really PMail would have a cleaner interface, but I guess I can live with that.
There are quirks, of course: attachment are not saved locally, is not multi-threading (yes! is not!!), and again, GUI, GUI, GUI: at first is not not easy to move through the options and figure out things.

Then there are lot of other good clients, but no one close to rule them all.

Foxmail: I believe they made a wrong decision going with the minimal interface, now things are just hidden (yes, usability is about hiding extra steps for the user, but when hiding tools makes hard to find them, that's not good usability anymore). Filters are not as good as PMail. No international spell-checker capability as far as I remember. Also developers seem to not respond any featurerequest /bugs submission emails.

M2, great client, just I believe Opera at this point abandoned it.

[* Comments about Outlook were removed because it is a paid product and is not free -Remah, editor *]

Sylpheed, looks like TB just with a older GUI.

Claws, could be good but something is not quite there yet, hm... I guess on Linux the experience is better though.

EM Client, not good filtering, develop doesn't seem to be that fast at the end, perhaps they're focusing on making it solid fixing bugs first. We'll see...

Mailbird, if I'm not mistaken this was a memory hog, also not very impressed by its features (sorry for not being more detailed about it, I've tried it a while ago, I decided it wasn't good).

Just my 2 c.

Edit: After checking once again Claws email I find out it also allows to use two spell-checker at the same time. Claws could be a good client, except for a few things that bother me:
1 - Fancy, the plugin used to view html message, is buggy on Windows. On my machine sometimes hangs up the application, sometimes it works but it's just very slow.
2 - Claws doesn't support rich-text/html text message: the user can use Fancy to view messages (with some issues, point 1 above) but is not possible to create html message. Is just not implemented (and it seems developers want to keep it this way).
3 - Even though there's a calendar, the features seem to be quite minimal. It might work just fine for common tasks, I haven't tested it enough.
4 - Filters seem to be pretty good, just a bit cumbersome as the user need to go through several clicks in order to complete all the steps necessary to create a new rule.

All in all it's quite evident that Claws is a porting, the feeling is that is not a native Windows app and window dialogs, icons, responsiveness are clear signs of it.

Thanks for some interesting things I will remember such as multi-language spell check in Pegasus Mail. For those who are interested in looking more widely than the products recommended in this article then here's some links to help you, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the products mentioned by dsp_418: TB means ThunderBird and is already recommended in this article. PMail is actually called Pegasus Mail, a venerable product that could certainly do with an updated interface. It is not reviewed in this article and has not been fully tested for Windows 7 and 8. M2 is now available separately as Opera Mail and looks good. The review in this article was written before the name change. Mailbird is also not reviewed in this article. Sylpheed and Claws Mail are open source products that also have not been reviewed in this article. Microsoft Outlook is a paid product (which is different to the free webmail at and this site is about freeware. Those comments were removed as they related only to Outlook itself.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The details for have now been updated. MC -Site Manager.

How about POP Peeper?
I have been using it for years and it works fine for me.
Lightweight, not many restriction and many other features.

I second the motion.

I love Pop Peeper and have relied on it for years for my Verizon as well as my gmail addresses. It is very stable, regularly updated, and flexible. New major release in the works.

I use it as a first line anti-spam tool. It allows me to view my email and selectively delete it on the server site. I view Sender and Subject info only, so I can quickly delete the spam from my provider's site. Then I can view the bodies of the remaining ones in text mode and delete more. What's left I download to Thunderbird to keep. Yes, I could do most of this in Thunderbird, but PopPeeper display is very lightweight and agile and serves as a great preliminary filter.

I would love a Gizmo review.


Thank you for expressing an interest in Pop Peeper but this application is a notification tool and not a full-fledged email client which is the subject of this review. MC - Site Manager.

The listed con for 'Opera (M2 Mail Client)' is not true. It is being offered as a stand-alone email client:

It's clean, responsive, and loads fast; wholeheartedly recommended.

Thank you for pointing this out. Is now updated. MC - Site Manager.

I am surprised NOT to find Windows Mail 8.1 (I use version 17.5...). It uses the Metro interface which actually is nice and clean. You can add IMAP, Exchange and GMail accounts, setup is very simple.

The amount of customisation is limited but really not much is needed. You can look at all your mail accounts one-by-one, not combined which actually suits me better, separating business and private mail. The mail list and preview pane are very clear and because of the Metro interface it uses the full screen surface.

And it is included in Windows 8.1, no additional cost.

One of the major problems not referred to in these reviews of email clients is the ability to migrate COMPLETELY from Outlook or Hotmail to them. I tried Thunderbird, but cannot move my email address book into it from Outlook or Hotmail. Are there any of the above products which allow this to be done simply as I am only computer semi-literate?