Best Free Email Software

toggle-button
  Read this article in Spanish

Introduction

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 or mobile.

Desktop Email Clients

Thunderbird  

A free, open source POP and IMAP email client by Mozilla that works across multiple platforms.


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Open source)
Customizable and expandable through add-ons, intuitive user interface.
No native support for web-mail clients such as GMail or Hotmail.
Read full review...

Opera Mail  

A combined email database, news reader, mailing list organizer and RSS news feed reader, supporting both POP3 and IMAP protocols.


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free
Built-in spam filter works right out-of-the-box, easy and intuitive to use.
No support for secure message signing or encryption. No further updates.
Read full review...

eM Client  

A popular client for Windows supporting all popular webmails as well as POP3 and IMAP.


Our Rating: 
3.5
License: Free (Limited features)
Clean interface, easy to set up, import accounts from other clients.
Account restriction to only two email addresses in the free version
Read full review...

Foxmail  

An alternative to Thunderbird worthy of consideration.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free
Intuitive and easy to use, has many of the same features as Thunderbird.
Help files are not very good.
Read full review...

IncrediMail  

Supports IMAP, POP3 and Webmail accounts with additional premium features.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Limited features)
Easy set-up, supports POP3, IMAP and WebMail.
Need to upgrade for some features.
Read full review...

Web-Based Or Mobile Email Clients

Gmail  

The most popular webmail client at the moment, integrating deeply into the Google ecosystem and offering many features.


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Ads)
Can be linked to other Google Products e.g. Calender, Buzz, Talk.
Has advertising, a little cluttered in its present form, need to pay for additional storage.
Read full review...

Microsoft Outlook  

The new Hotmail with the modern user interface and some appealing features.


Our Rating: 
3
License: Free (Ads)
Modern user interface, import from other mail accounts, automated replies, filters and folders, built-in contacts, calendar and tasks.
Supported by ads.
Read full review...

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Editor

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

Back to the top of the article.

 

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
3.46231
Average: 3.5 (199 votes)
toggle-button

Comments

Surprisingly, >10 years after Qualcomm ended support, Eudora 7 is still an excellent email client. Luckily it still works fine with Windows 10.

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" @ http://www.emclient.com. 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 - http://techreport.com/r.x/2009q4/thunderbird3-search-il.png
- 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.:

That link is 3 years old. I highly doubt those figures hold now.

I finally bit the bullet and moved all my accounts From TBird into GMail. No more backing up TBird databases when I re-image my machine from a good backup.

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. http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Email_Market_2015-2019,_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. https://litmus.com/blog/email-client-market-share-where-people-opened-in-2013.

I agree with listing Eudora 7.1.0.9 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 http://cubiq.org/the-best-and-the-worst-email-clients-for-windows/ 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 http://ogri.me/en/hard-soft/324-enabling-windows-mail-in-windows-7 (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.

http://www.majorgeeks.com/news/story/dreammail_removed_from_majorgeeks_l...

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.

Remah,

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 Outlook.com) 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 Outlook.com 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.
http://www.poppeeper.com/

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.

Allen

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: http://www.opera.com/computer/mail

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

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

Pages