Best Free Email Software

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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

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Editor

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

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Comments

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?

Thanks,
tlcmd

No love for nPOPuk? Might not replace a full-featured e-mail client but a useful supplementary for quick checks and at least some automated mail management. Small, quick, portable. Recent versions have useful improvements like the preview pane, and better filters, nearly good enough now to replace Magic Mail Monitor (and being in the INI file, they're more easily edited). Also filter boxes, so filters can automatically copy or move mail to permanent folders, etc.

vivaldi.net webmail is one to consider.

the webmail (not pc client program) in myopera was pretty good. It was part of the whole myopera community. It went "out of business" as of 3/1/2014. Ie tomorrow ;) However the developers created Vivaldi.net; It is also a whole community. When i load their pages and watch the websites go buy in the lower left of firefox, i do not see many other sites go by besides vivaldi.net. In fact i just double checked now, and the ONLY website i saw go by was vivalid.net. Their servers are located in Iceland for, among other things, their commitment to free speech. It appears on first glance very open source mindset friendly.

Their vivaldi mail is a hosted roundcube program. I have found roundcube only meh. But free as in freedom is a big plus. Altho this is just a first impression, i dont really "know" the community.

The tech world is changing. There use to be "free as in beer" and "free as in freedom". Now there's also "free as in build a profile on you and sell it for ad targeting".

Some other notes:

vivaldi does not (currently) require a cell phone to register. They require an alternate email which they use for "forgot password" retrieval. gmail and yahoo both require a cell phone these days.

gmx.com is another "very free" email. It is very Ad HEAVY. From a couple hours surfing, it has mixed reviews. Gmx has the advantage that it does not (currently) require a cell phone nor even an alternate email address to register. Their "forgot password" retrieval is based on a security question.

There is a mistake in the DreamMail section. It does not support IMAP. It was planned / promised for version 5 (10 or so years ago was the First promise).

Sadly Foxmail does not support S/MIME. I also have problems contacting the developer (they seem to ignore my emails).

Maybe Zimbra Desktop is also a look worth: http://www.zimbra.com/products/zimbra-desktop/desktop-features.html . I haven't tested it though, as I am using em Client (slow start up).

seamonkey is an excellent product that combines a browser with a free mail progam (like the older opera used too).

http://www.seamonkey-project.org/releases/

opera mail is no longer a part of the browser and can be had separately.

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

M2 (Opera) is also the best choice for me. Although I found that the integration within the browser was great (I am sad that they do not give the option to keep it inside Opera Browser). The new version has a lack of customisation features that were available when it was part of the browser.
But it is extremely fast and perfect for me.

Ok, is there anything that can handle all the correspondence with one person, incoming and outgoing, under the same folder?
I have Evolution. It has filters for incoming mail, but outgoing ignores it. Why?

Anybody looking for a free, clean, simple and fast e-mail client would find Postbox Express as the right candidate. It is a 'toned-down' version of the well known paid software Postbox. I'm a very satisfied user and other friends might care to look at it.

I've used Eudora for as long as I can remember. For two reasons...to pull all my email addresses together and the mail they generate. But I loved being able to pull up the folders from Eudora into notepad or Word. Loved it. Do any of the email clients out there do this? Or are they only able to be read in the program the email rolled into?

Hey guys,

It's me again, this section along with many other unfortunately is very outdated, both on standalone client and web mail services, i think it is obvious for most that the main 2 web service for email are Gmail and Hotmail, let's add another one that is in no way falling behind the great two - GMX.com - great functionality, check this one out.

Personally i think in today's terms, when everything is "cloud" based there is no real need in standalone client such as Thunderbird or others, Gmail, Hotmail and GMX give you all you need (including online drive to store your files on - Gdrive and Skydrive + free online office to edit and view your documents - google docs and Web Office), BUT if you still want one, i'd recommend the same one i recommended here few years ago and is by far better then all the rest reviewed here, eM client. Yes only eM client, why is DreamMail still here? It was dropped long ago and no longer supported, or incredimail? Is this a joke? There is almost nothing good about incredimail, except cute mail themes and email notifiers, but nobody need these things anymore.

There are plenty of email clients for everyone to choose from: EmailTray - nice, Inky - liked it too, Foxmail - very light and simple, yet no support at all and a very poor English translation, Thunderbird - not bad, for Mozilla fans, basically all of them offer more or less same functionality.

Still, the only one you will ever need is eM client, great customer support, integration with Skype, Facebook, iCloud contacts, Hangouts (ex gtalk), it has everything you need in a great email client: Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, very fast search, Instant messaging, automatic archiving and advanced backup options, Password protection, offline work, customization, you can view your email practically in any way you wish, basically i consider eM client as an improved Outlook.

Definitely worth checking our,

http://www.emclient.com/

The main reasons I use an email client is to integrate the many email accounts I have, to integrate with other applications on my PC, and to allow me to work with email even when offline. I use cloud data storage to synchronize files across multiple PCs.
@CyberAlex1986. This review currently has no editor so the content will not change until someone volunteers to take it over. Why not offer to do this yourself as you appear to have done most of the ground work for an update already? MC - Site Manager.

Foxmail quick selection should probably be updated.

There seems to be a newer version than the one listed in the quick selection list

and

evidently there is now a portable version.

Thank you. I have updated our information. :-) I was not able to verify a seperate portable version. This release can be run in a portable environment.

Please note that DreamMail is no longer being supported or developed.
http://www.dreammail.eu/

Thank you. Noted.

Eudora 7.1 is the last full-featured, "professional" version (only fast-global-search function dropped but from all versions), and is now free for the taking. Qualcom hosted a community support forum for years, and that community is still somewhat active but scattered a bit now.

Maybe Eudora 7.1 should be evaluated and listed here. Even though development stopped in 2006 (or 2007 ?), it doesn't seem that any other email client has come close to the same utility. That is a striking anomaly, but maybe other communication apps are where developers now spend their efforts. Thanks to Qualcom for continuing to distribute the program. Too bad the code could not be unlocked for the the open source development project. Eudora OSE (aka version 8._) failed and should not be confused with the "professional" version.

The reason I am looking at email client reviews is that I was a totally happy Eudora user but I started using Thunderbird when Qualcomm stopped doing upgrades. I soon found Thunderbird inadequate so I switched to Pegasus - same story.
Like shawnz I think that Eudora was (is?) the best email client around.
I think that I will go back to Eudora, join the support forum and get on with the rest of my life - hopefully without any more email hassles.
If Qualcomm should decide to put some money in to supporting Eudora I would be happy to toss in my annual subscription to assist.

I am seriously looking for email software in which I can compose like a word processor (e.g., MS Word) with choice of font and font size and other features. Thunderbird is like buying a dress shirt with Small, Medium, and Large, as opposed to numerical neck size and sleeve length. Outlook Express was great in that regard, but it stopped recognizing my password and could not be recovered, so I've enjoyed Thunderbird for several years, but am frustrated by its arbitrary, random jumbling of fonts. After I set a default font, it keeps changing size and/or font right in the middle of a message. After I finally get a uniform format, it still changes after I hit SEND. I'm a good writer, but my messages look like I'm a computer moron.

I seem to remember a button in MS Word to send a doc file. It was years back, and I liked the idea at the time, but I don't remember using it. Regardless, Microsoft should probably not be allowed to observe you connecting out to 3rd party servers and contacts. The function should hand off to the email client for that.

As for Foxmail the note regarding the portable version needs to be updated, as a portable version is available on Foxmail website.

Having twice in the last two month had the mail in my inbox just completely disappear, I find the endorsement of Mozilla Thunderbird as the best choice quite questionable. A check on the web indicates this is quite a common problem.

Coupled with Mozilla's recent announcement of the cessation of further development of Thunderbird has persuaded me that it's time to move on. So I'm open to suggestions on a reliable free or fee PC based email client. (Which is why I came to this site in the first place).

For those persisting with Thunderbird, I suggest they move the contents of their inbox to local folders on a frequent basis. But with caution.

In fact it was in the process of doing this that I lost my inbox contents. I had sorted just over 100 emails into sender order and had transferred a group to a topic specific local folder when zap!, the rest of the inbox disappeared.

Caveat emptor applies even with freebies!

I personally have used Thunderbird since, oh about v4, so in other word..QUITE a while.
And NEVER have I seen email just "disappear" from the inbox.
This HAD to be user error.PERIOD.
Possibly a setting that is wrong or something. But it simply does NOT just vanish on its own.
As stated, from about v4 to current v24.6. NEVER EVER.
-------
Also by now it is also apparent that Thunderbird is a "community supported" project, and has NOT vanished either.
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I use the inboxes on 3 accounts no problem, I also archive and use local folders as well. Again, NO PROBLEMS.

As next Opera release is gonna be based on Chromium, M2 will be most probably released as stand-alone app.
RC are already available.

I also find M2 one of the best (if not the best) email client around.

Another client that worth a mention imho is Claws Email:
http://www.claws-mail.org/

[Moderator's note: Links to direct downloads of files removed. Not allowed as per site rules.]

Regarding using Hotmail/Outlook.com, I believe all of your data will be deleted if you don't use your account every six or twelve months (or something like that). I've personally experienced this, and it's a pity when you lose years worth of data.

As far as I understand, Google doesn't have this restriction.

Microsoft email accounts must be logged into at least once every 365 days otherwise it becomes inactive and all data is deleted. See the Microsoft Service Agreement (e.g. section 4.8.ii Account Use). The inactive account itself is available for up to 5 years but your data is gone.

Google does have a similar restriction in their service agreement but they haven't yet applied it. The agreement says that an inactive gmail.com account will expire in 9 months and then be deleted. I wouldn't be relying on Google holding my data forever if I don't meet their service requirements - I've used other Google services that have ended just as prematurely. If you cannot do a simple login once every 9-12 months then how important is your data?!

Google also has the Inactive Account Manager which you can set to prevent an account being deleted automatically due to inactivity. It tells Google what to do if, for example, you die or can no longer use the account.

 

Thunderbird provides no privacy for your mailboxes. Anyone with access to your computer can open Thunderbird and read all your emails. There is an add on to password your Thunderbird profile, but it is easily circumvented.

My personal preference is back with Opera Mail. I tried Opera in the latest version this month, and I have to say I am impressed; it offers fast / seamless IMAP and is better than anything I have tried past or present.

Some background... I have tried all of the above, and some not listed here (Zimbra amongst others) - and have (unfortunately) always ended up using the web based offerings of Google and Microsoft and for a long period have done so; but recently they "improved" their offerings to be so "feature rich" that they are too slow to load and use, and now have strange quirks in their UI that cause many a frustration.

And then we get to Thunderbird; for me I find it surprising that this is at the top of any review list - large footprint, slow / cumbersome to use / setup and frequently unreliable. An example, I contracted at a business in recent years where it was used as the primary for the email system; where it did a fantastic job of frequent corruption of its own email database and was almost impossible to restore. Following many wasted hours and lost emails, Thunderbird was dropped and the Linux equivalent of Outlook (Evolution) put in place with much improved reliability.

I have personally tried and re-tried Thunderbird on occasion over the last 4 or 5 years; it keeps coming on top of reviews so I keep hoping it has made the improvements that make it worthy of such a spot; but the end result for me is always the same - I un-install it.

I would advise, to try the following:
- Opera Mail (latest version is very fast, small, reliable and seamlessly integrates with the what is likely the fastest Windows browser available)
- Dream Mail (also very fast, small and reliable; but it doesn't have IMAP)
- Evolution (has everything including Exchange support - but is only a Linux client; its worth running a Linux VM just to use it and get rid of Outlook - it really is very good)

In my experience, too many of the clients are unreliable / slow or are trying to be "clever" when all most users really want is simple, reliable and fast email.

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