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desktop email clientSpecialization is the key to efficiency, especially in the realm of software. Programs that try to “do it all” end up becoming bloated, messy, and subpar in most of what they do. On the other hand, programs that have a specific focus tend to excel. Email clients are no different.

Having a specialized desktop email client that handles your email for you is a great way to stay organized and free up time. There’s nothing wrong with using the actual web interface provided by most email services like Gmail and Hotmail, but having a dedicated desktop client is great when you don’t want to keep your browser open 24/7 with a permanent email tab.

Personally, I use Postbox Postbox 3: Completely Replace Your Email Handler in Windows or Mac [Giveaway] Postbox 3: Completely Replace Your Email Handler in Windows or Mac [Giveaway] Postbox is widely recognized as one of the most sleek and effective email clients for the Mac OS X platform. OS X has always been about simplifying the user experience and Postbox seems to follow... Read More for my emailing needs, but it’ll set you back around $10. Fortunately, there are plenty of free email clients available – you just need to look in the right places.


desktop email client

When Mozilla Firefox came onto the scene in 2004 (known as Firebird back then), it gave Microsoft’s Internet Explorer a run for its money. In the same year, Mozilla released Thunderbird which became a big contender to Microsoft’s Outlook. Since then, Thunderbird has maintained its popularity even until now.

Thunderbird is packed full of features without being slowed down by excess. It can handle multiple email accounts, POP and IMAP, message filtering, folder organization, email labels and priorities, themes, and RSS/Atom feeds. In addition, it has a plugin system that allows new features to be added at your discretion. The only thing about Thunderbird is that, despite its pervasive popularity, it will not be getting any new features from here on out.

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Thunderbird is open source and cross platform. Use it on Windows, Linux, or even Mac if you so choose.

eM Client

desktop email client windows

Though Thunderbird is the most popular free client on Windows, eM Client may have a better feature set. It synchronizes flawlessly with any Gmail account, including emails, calendar dates, contact lists, tasks, and even GTalk. If you’re switching over from Outlook, eM Client has an easy import tool. On top of that, it looks polished and clean.

eM Client is fully secure and encrypts everything it sends out. It even has a widgeting feature that allows you to create custom widgets. PC Magazine included eM Client in its list of best free software for 3 years running–2010, 2011, and 2012. Once you’ve used it, it’s not hard to see why.

eM Client is available in Free and Pro versions. The Pro version costs $50 and grants you a commercial license for commercial use as well as VIP support priority. The Pro version also lets you create an unlimited number of email accounts.

Windows Live Mail

desktop email client windows

If you’re using a genuine version of Windows, you can install Windows Essentials and get a great free email client called Windows Live Mail. It handles all of your email accounts and is very easy to set up. If you use SkyDrive, even better! Windows Live Mail synchronizes with SkyDrive on the fly.

Windows Live Mail is available for Windows Vista, 7, and 8. If you use an earlier version, like XP, then you’re unfortunately out of luck here.

Zimbra Desktop

desktop email client windows

Zimbra Desktop was a top-notch email client for a while but it’s since fallen off the radar – and I’m not sure why. Its main distinguishing features are that it synchronizes locally so you can read all of your email while you’re offline and it aggregates all of your accounts in one place, whether those accounts are for email or social networks.

Basically, you can use Zimbra Desktop as a place to consolidate all of your communication needs. And contrary to what I said before, Zimbra Desktop doesn’t feel bloated. Even with so many features, it works fast and looks great. I can barely summarize all of its awesome features because there are so many.

Zimbra Desktop is free for all and available on Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Claws Mail

desktop email client

Claws Mail is a desktop email client built on a GTK+ foundation. Because of this, it has a clean and minimalistic layout with quick response times. Everything is intuitive in design and the preferences are easily configured. With that said, the program is robust and extensible with all the features you’d need in an email client.

Upon using Claws Mail, you’ll be able to import your settings and emails from other clients like Outlook and Thunderbird. If you ever feel the need to switch away, everything can be exported just as easily. With plugins, you can install extra functionality – like reading RSS feeds, event calendars, and more.

Claws Mail is available for Windows and Linux.

Which desktop email client do you prefer?

Image Credit: Email Computer Via Shutterstock

  1. David Power
    January 10, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I built Hiri-

    It's free (may not stay that way forever, so get it while it's hot)
    Great for Exchange/Office 365. It's a complete replacement for Microsoft Outlook. We do Calendars, Tasks, Contacts and of course, email. We put a lot of emphasis on tasks. When you think about it, most of the emails you receive are either Actionable or FYI, and it's important to find a way to separate the two.

    We spent a lot of time researching the actual problems with email, for example, checking too often (every 5 mins on average) and asked ourselves how we could address these issues. So Hiri should help break those bad habits you've developed. (We addressed the checking too often thing by disabling notifications and introducing a timer that reminds you it hasn't been that long since you last checked). We wanted to build something that actually fixed email rather than something that was faster/prettier (although, I'm a designer so that stuff was pretty important too!).

    Would love to hear your thoughts. It's been a real labour of love and has taken us over 2 years to build.

    • Aleksandar
      January 16, 2017 at 9:59 am

      I'm using Hiri for the last 3 months and it seems pretty easy and actionable. Maybe the tag for sent and received emails is missing in search, but it's pretty much better than Outlook.

  2. hammyj
    May 12, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Hi all. I have been successfully using MS Live Mail for many years. Since receiving the notice from Microsoft concerning the need to switch to Outlook or “Mail” in Windows 10 I decided to give them a try. Keeping this short; “Mail” is BASIC, seems unfinished, not much to change / customize. Outlook on the other hand is way over the top for general emails, calendars and the like. After setting Outlook up and doing some basic customizing it has been working OK for the last 2 weeks. The only thing that bothers me is on the left pain, with your email accounts, they automatically add So Many folders and sub-folders it’s crazy. I did a search(s) to find a way to remove them, as did thousands of other people apparently and found no way to delete the unwanted folders. So I did a search for a better, paid for, software and found this review / blog. Actually I found the earlier on which was linked to this one. About a year ago I tried many of the mentioned and some not mentioned email software available and for one reason or another did not like any of them. On this blog “Jeremy Gordon” mentioned “EverDesk” and supplied positive feedback on the program. I did a search and found other positive comments to I downloaded it and so far I to like this program although I will take the 30 days to evaluate it. Than I got to thinking, unless I have operational issues with Outlook 2013, and the only thing that bugs me at this point is all the folders / sub-folders do I really need to spend $45 for EverDesk. I would encourage you to take a look at the program as is seems like a very decent option. Me, I keep thinking about it, but if Outlook falters, I know for sure I will purchase EverDesk.

  3. Tim
    April 21, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    I've always used Thunderbird, but the latest update all my new messages double space by default and I can't live with it any longer. I tried Claws Mail and found NO WAY or Option to import other account settings, I have so many I did not want to do them all manually. There just doesn't seem to be any good email clients around any more except Thunderbird but double spacing by default is annoying and so far, I've found no way to change it.

    • Thunderdude
      May 10, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Above the message body and below your subject, where it says 'Paragraph'
      Change that to 'Body Text'. That temporarily gets rid of the double spacing.
      To make it default, check across the top and go to 'Format' -> 'Paragraph' -> and change it to 'Body Text'.
      It should stay that way from then on.

    • Laurence
      June 9, 2016 at 5:25 pm


      Referring to Thunderbird version 45.x.x: Click on Tools | Options | Composition, and near the bottom of that Option's window, *uncheck* the box which says "When using paragraph format, the enter key creates a new paragraph" then click on the OK button.

      I think the above setting may have just been added in version 45 and upwards.

      However the composition window still does not always remember the selected font being used. :-(

  4. Anna
    December 22, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I really liked WLM. my favorite and most used function was "block sender's domain" to get respite from all those spammers. I am disappointed that W10 is not supporting WLM and T-Bird doesn't seem to have that function least I haven't found it yet.

    • Dax
      May 10, 2016 at 1:13 am

      I also really like WLM and I'm so sorry to see it go. In my opinion it's an insult to the eyes to use the built in crap in Win10. Not to mention the lack of features.
      I wonder what to use next when WLM finally stops working in June 2016?

  5. Andrea Loubier
    July 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Hi guys! We are pumped for W10's public release soon.

    I wanted to share with those of you ready for the W10 update to try Mailbird and you'll see our new little friend in the top left corner. Say hello to the hexagon :)

    We just released Unified Inbox Plus - so if you have several email accounts they are all unified into one simple and beautiful account. Mailbird will also be W10 ready with touch support :D


    Also just as a reminder - check out all the apps baked in for email, messaging, productivity, calendars and secure video meetings. You'll see that Mailbird is all you'll soon need for all communication and productivity needs.

  6. Danny
    May 7, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I think that Eudora still deserves consideration as a Windows e-mail client, and perhaps even for a Mac although I cannot comment on that directly.

    Yes, that Eudora, the e-mail client that was once almost standard issue with any new ISP sign up package. It is still used, it still works, and while no longer sold it can still be found on the web along with registration codes that Qualcomm posted for general use when they discontinued sales of version 7.x

    Compared with the other clients mentioned above, Eudora stands up very well and, I think, is better in most ways. Eudora remains competitive in terms of features and performance. It is also very easy to implement a backup routine for Eudora and the plain text file handling and storage contributes to the program's relatively immunity to virus issues.

    Eudora also works on almost any version of Windows, certainly any, I believe, from Windows 2000 and up, and there is still a MAC version available on the same basis as the Windows one, mentioned above.


  7. Rosey Dee
    March 29, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Lifesaver! WLM has suddenly stopped working. I have spent all day trying to fix it and finally decided to search for another client. Installed Thunderbird - took 5 minutes and all my emails have been retrieved.

  8. Woody
    December 27, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    The only client I have ever used is T-Bird. I am now changing. T-Bird has suddenly stopped me from sending messages, everything else is fine. In the forums etc, I have seen no help on this. In the past the only cure was reinstall. thanks for this article, it has helped.

    • John McCabe
      March 2, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      This could be an issue with OpenSSL. I had a similar problem that turned out to be due to Thunderbird being updated such that it refused to deal with servers that were configured to use a version of OpenSSL that had been shown to be insecure. I contacted my email provider and pointed this out and they updated their servers within a couple of hours. I know it's been a long time since you posted this but it might be useful.

  9. lior
    December 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    without downloadin all...
    do you know if one of these programs enable to send an scheduled email message -that will be sent (after) even when i'm offline

  10. tika
    March 28, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I find this cool new windows desktop email client: Mailbird

    Yeah its new.. Been using it for three months and I loovee it.. Maybe because its simplicity, sophisticated design.. I cant do with too much button to click or too much tab to look at :-/ ..

  11. Suneel Kansara
    October 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Ya i was just searching for best email client for windows i make it

  12. Myst Gunn
    October 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Today I learned another desktop email client. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Anonymous
    October 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I prefer Thunderbird

  14. Mac Witty
    October 13, 2012 at 6:27 am

    One would love to see the same for Mac. Postbox and Apple mail is nice but alternative is always good exp since Thunderbird has given in

  15. Jacob Mathew
    October 13, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I like thunderbird a lot better.

  16. Edwin Williams
    October 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Windows Live Mail is fun! I use it everyday! Thanks for the article!

  17. Richard Steven Hack
    October 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    If you're not in a corporate environment (and I mean one where it's mandated), using Outlook or Outlook Express is just stupid. They're virus magnets, their storage format is unreliable (I've spend a lot of time recovering broken PST files for clients), and they're overly complicated and bloated. I wouldn't bother with Windows Live Mail either based on the history of the other Windows clients.

    Thunderbird is far better. Although I use Gmail now exclusively, I still use Thunderbird as another form of backup of my Gmail account. Thunderbird works fine with Gmail, not as hinted in the article.

  18. Aaron Couch
    October 12, 2012 at 6:17 pm


    Great job on this piece! How have I not heard of some of these? Especially eM Client. I've been looking for something like this for a while. I like Gmail, but I've just been curious about what else is out there.

    Definitely giving this a try. Do you have a preference or opinion on which one is the "best"?

    • Joel Lee
      October 12, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      Thanks Aaron!

      I personally use Postbox ($20 so it's not on this list), but if I had to choose, I'd probably use Zimbra. It looks the most aesthetically pleasing and it has a massive featureset. I hear Windows Live Mail is pretty good, but who knows how long Microsoft will support that with all the Windows changes coming up.

      • Sam Kar
        October 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm

        I don't know why are u praising Zimbra, as our office uses Zimbra- and I have seen ppl very angry having to use it.

        • Joel Lee
          October 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

          I've been frustrated by Thunderbird, yet it's still praised as one of the best email clients out there. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

  19. Alex Perkins
    October 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    A web based email client like Gmail is great, but it doesn't work at school where they are still using IE 6.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Ugh! Go to a different school! :P I'm assuming your textbooks are from the 1980s as well?

      • Alex Perkins
        October 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        I can't as I'm in the UK and it's the closest one, the textbooks probably are as well although some of them are a bit more up to date. The Network Admin is a moron and didn't even know how to reverse the screen flip I put on a computer, the one where it's just alt gr + Up arrow. Most of the time if i'm in the class the person in need asks me rather then getting him to try and do it. I don't have access to any of the permissions he has so I can't fix most things because of that. We're not even allowed shortcuts on our desktop

  20. RaMaN
    October 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    "If you’re using a genuine version of Windows," LOL I laughed at this. I never used genuine windows :)

  21. Sam Kar
    October 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Never heard abt Claws Mail.

  22. Anonymous
    October 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    My choice is Thunderbird from many years. Sometimes, I use Evolution on Ubuntu, but now, it is Thunderbire again.

  23. Pwince Khan
    October 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    windowslive is the best

  24. Michel
    October 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Windows Live Mail is an email client. Skydrive is cloud storage. What do you sync between the two?

    • Joel Lee
      October 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      You can backup and sync your emails on SkyDrive. It's useful if you use Windows Live Mail on multiple computers.

      • Czarek
        April 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

        WLM uses native activesync protocol for exchange mail, contacts and calendar events /for hotmail , accounts/, so there is no needs to do it manually using Skydrive. Otherwise I hadn't seen any skydrive related opsions on WLM interface.

  25. vineed gangadharan
    October 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    thunderbird is the best,,,i use it both on windows and ubuntu :)

  26. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I didn't know Live Mail was still available! Was using Thunderbird as my email client..

    • Czarek
      April 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      I stopped install Thunderbird for my clients despite of storage limitations /mbox = 4 GB only/. There is no such as limitations using WLM.
      Otherwise there is a native calendar events exchange and contacts synchronisation solution builtin to WLM. It can be used to on-line synchronisation of contacts and calendar events beetwen dekstops and mobile devices /if it can handle exchange mailboxes/. So it's really adventage over Thunderbird solutions.
      WLM cons in lack of custom filters for IMAP based accounts.

  27. muhammad idrees
    October 12, 2012 at 11:13 am

    For me the portbility of an emails clients is

  28. Unhappy
    October 12, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Did you really install emClient?
    It is full of toolbars and the like. Looks extremely suspicious to me.
    Besides that, it simply locked up on my computer and that was it.

    • muhammad idrees
      October 12, 2012 at 11:17 am

      i prefer to use webmail on daily weekly and montly bases

    • Joel Lee
      October 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Whenever you install something, it would be best if you didn't zoom through by cilcking Next, Next, Next. On the third page during installation, you have the option of unchecking the "Install eM Client Toolbar," which is how you can bypass toolbar installation.

  29. Adrian Rea
    October 12, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I prefer to use webmail as my daily use, but I use Thunderbird as a backup storage. This is transferable between Windows and Linux whichever I choose to be be my main desktop. This also means I can access my mail wherever I go but keep the bulk of my past mail off the web servers to reduce security risk.

  30. Gerhard Tinned
    October 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I have been using Thunderbird for years. First on Windows then on my USB (portable apps version) then on my mac. I was always very very happy with it. I still have it on my mac and PC. I just came across Postbox again (thanks to makeuseof) and i started to like it more becasue of some features. But as it is not free it is of course not in the list. But still my free absolute winner is THUNDERBIRD!! Very stable, a lot of extensions, portable, available for Windows and MacOSX and Linux, Does everithing i ever needed from an email client and even more! :-)

  31. filepuma
    October 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

    We have listed Thunderbird, eM Client, Windows Live Mail, And we recommend Tunderbird.

  32. emc
    October 12, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Excellent topic otherwise I would not have known these good email client. Thanks !!

  33. daz hannah
    October 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I have xp and I'm using windows live successfully

  34. Anonymous
    October 12, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I was talking about Thunderbird as it's my choice for email client.

  35. Anonymous
    October 12, 2012 at 6:26 am

    For me the portability of an email client is paramount. That way, I can always access my email wherever I want. But yes, unfortunately it seems there will be no new features from here on in. :(

    • muhammad idrees
      October 12, 2012 at 11:13 am

      I was talking about Thunderbird a appreciate your resposnse

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