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Some people say that you should stop using desktop email clients.

I get where they’re coming from. Web-based email services have come a long way over the past decade, and many of them are feature-rich enough to be on par with desktop-based alternatives. But there are several valid reasons to keep using desktop email software You Should Ditch Webmail for a Desktop Email Client If... You Should Ditch Webmail for a Desktop Email Client If... A few years ago, webmail was all the rave. Wonder whether it's time to switch back to a desktop email client? Look no further. We show you the merits of a local mail service. Read More , and I firmly believe that they will never become obsolete.

Postbox and Outlook are the two main options, but they’re pricey. If you only need an email client to handle one or two personal accounts, then a free email client will likely serve you just fine — just be aware that you may run into feature restrictions as a free user.

1. Thunderbird

Though Thunderbird development was discontinued in 2012, it still receives maintenance updates so don’t write it off as dead just yet. In fact, a stable version update was released earlier this year. The client won’t be getting any new features going forward, but it’s absolutely still usable.

And, as sad as it is to say, Thunderbird is the only free and open source desktop email client that’s actually worth using. Other open source clients exist, but they’re riddled with issues like clunky interfaces, glitchy performance, and lack of advanced features.

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If you’re adamant about never spending a penny and never switching to a web-based client, then Thunderbird is your best bet. It can do pretty much anything you need, including setting up message filters and autoresponding to emails, among other nifty tips and tweaks.

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

DownloadThunderbird (Free)

2. Nylas Mail

We already highlighted Nylas Mail as an awesome mail client for Mac 5 Apple Mail Alternatives for Mac OS X 5 Apple Mail Alternatives for Mac OS X Every Mac comes with a free email application, but it's not the be-all and end-all of OS X email solutions. Here's five of the best alternatives. Read More but we’re going to repeat ourselves here because it’s that good. What’s most interesting, at least to me, is how it came out of nowhere and developed so quickly: first announced in January 2016, Nylas Mail is now one of the best mail clients to use, even if it still has lots of room to grow.

Notable Free Version Features

  • Syncs with Gmail, Office 365, iCloud, and IMAP.
  • Unlimited email accounts and unified inbox.
  • Undo sent emails within a given period of time.
  • Track whether emails are opened and links are clicked.
  • Support for pre-built themes and emojis.
  • Support for plugins and extensions.

Notable Pro Version Features

  • Also syncs with Exchange, Outlook, and Yahoo.
  • Schedule emails to be sent at a future time.
  • Snooze emails and set up reminders.
  • Share email threads with others using a web link.

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

DownloadNylas Mail (Free / $144 per year)

3. Mailbird

Mailbird is an attempt to optimize the desktop email client experience 7 Email Efficiency Tips To Get More Email Done, Faster 7 Email Efficiency Tips To Get More Email Done, Faster Life revolves around communication and literally nothing gets accomplished without it. Email is a communication tool meant to make your life easier. Instead of having to type up a letter or try to catch someone... Read More . If you’ve never used desktop email before, then you’ll probably love it. If you’re migrating from another client, it will be hit or miss — some parts will feel familiar, other bits will impress you, but you’ll undoubtedly find aspects that you hate as well. All we can recommend is giving it a try.

Notable Free Version Features

  • Beautifully sleek and minimal interface.
  • Syncs with any IMAP or POP email service.
  • Lightning fast search and indexing.
  • Integration with Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, and more.
  • Supports up to 3 email accounts.

Notable Pro Version Features

  • Unlimited email accounts and unified inbox.
  • Snooze emails and set up reminders.
  • Speed reader for emails.
  • Quick preview for email attachments.

Available for Windows.

DownloadMailbird (Free / $12 per year)

4. eM Client

eM Client aims to be an all-in-one solution for dealing with office tasks and communications. It’s primarily designed for email, but also has nifty calendar integration, task management, contacts organization, and even chat support — and the free version only has one (albeit major) limitation, as you can see below.

Notable Free Version Features

  • Slick Modern UI interface that fits well with Microsoft apps.
  • Syncs with Gmail, Exchange, iCloud, Office 365, and Outlook.com.
  • Conversational view for email threads.
  • Integration with all common chat services, including Jabber.
  • Supports up to 2 email accounts.

Notable Pro Version Features

  • Supports an unlimited number of email accounts.
  • Can be used for commercial purposes (e.g. business office use).
  • VIP support and troubleshooting.

Available for Windows.

DownloadeM Client (Free / $50 one-time purchase)

5. Hiri

Hiri is an email client like no other. It aims to change the way you use email because your email habits are causing undue stress 6 Simple Tricks to Reduce Email Stress 6 Simple Tricks to Reduce Email Stress Dealing with email is the best part of my day. Said no one ever. You need all the tips you can get to manage your email inbox? We can help you out! Read More , and it’s designed to minimize the amount of time you waste on “unactionable” emails (thereby boosting your daily productivity). It even reminds you not to check your email too often. If you’re an efficiency freak, you need Hiri.

Notable features include a side-by-side interface (emails on one side, tasks on the other), the ability to separate need-to-read emails from need-to-act emails, reminders for important emails, blazingly fast email searches, and a feature-complete built-in calendar.

Hiri is free for personal use and does not come with any feature limitations, but it’s most effective when used by teams and businesses because Hiri allows you to “delegate” emails to your team members (which sends them to that person’s need-to-act filter).

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

DownloadHiri (Free for personal use)

Or Just Use Built-In Mail Apps

If the above clients seem overly complex for your email needs, then you can always resort to the Mail app that comes pre-installed on Windows 8 and 10 (some consider it bloatware while others think it’s worth using). If you’re on Mac, Apple Mail is more than adequate (especially with these tips and tweaks How to Make Apple Mail a Better Desktop Email Client How to Make Apple Mail a Better Desktop Email Client Take the time to set up Apple's boring email client just right, and make email processing as painless as possible. Read More ).

Personally, I think all of these apps are fantastic so don’t fret too much. They all get the job done, so give each one a try and stick to the one you like best. As for me, it’s a toss-up between Nylas and Hiri.

How about you? Which free desktop email client do you like the best? Do you lean more towards the traditional or do you prefer something radical and unique? Share with us down in the comments!

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  1. Christoph
    March 8, 2017 at 3:23 am

    I've been searching for years for the best email client with these added requirements: a calendar/scheduler, tasks, events, contacts, highly configurable, securable, "open source" (No Freemium) and fully portable at portableapps.com. I tried Operamail which I found to be a very good email and contacts client, but no calendar, etc., although I have no idea if anything has changed since being bought by Chinese owners.

    Then I tried Thunderbird was too "clunky" and slow for me. I liked Seamonkey more and I've been using for the last four years. It has email, a calendar, tasks, events, contacts, a browser and more; most of which need add-ons to make them more usable to each users needs.

    It works quite well, still gets updated once a year or so (which is just fine for me), has a small dedicated team and an online extensions configurator to modify many T-bird & FFox extensions to work with it. I recommend users install exts's in small batches for troubleshooting any incompatibility issues that may arise. I'm still fussing with the address book fields and tasks/events to work with specific calendars though, but I've truly not found any better email client and if T-bird is no longer being developed I guess I'll stick with Seamonkey.

  2. Glados
    February 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I would strongly urge you to not use MailBird. They "phone home" all your emails and have even publicly stated that it is not illegal to do so and are continuing. In their newer versions they added an "opt out" feature but it still phones home. You can use any packet sniffer to see for yourself.

  3. Patrick Saunders
    February 14, 2017 at 8:36 am

    The free version of EssentialPIM is also a possibility.

  4. Charles
    February 8, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    A little fact checking would be nice.

    First, its funny that you suggest the non-free Postbox as one of the two 'main' options, then make false claims (see below) about Thunderbird, apparently unaware that Postbox is a Thunderbird derivative, and is currently based on a very OLD version of Thunderbird.

    What false claims? Well, Thunderbird development is far from dead. It has received more new features and bug fixes since Mozilla pulled its developers off of the main project (Mozilla still provides considerable infrastructure support) than it did in the previous 5 years under Mozilla's umbrella.

    They also recently started receiving donations, and as of the last Treasury Report I saw, from November 2016, they were averaging about $70,000 per MONTH, most of these from small, one person donations.

    Current Thunderbird leadership (an elected Council) is considering the options for a new home - the SFC (Software Freedom Conservancy and The Document Foundations being the two main contenders I believe.

    So, the user base is definitely supportive of Thunderbird, and as far as I'm concerned, the future's so bright, you have to wear shades.

    • TPB
      February 15, 2017 at 8:07 am

      Yeah. I've got Thunderbird release 45.7.1 that came out on...FEBRUARY 7, 2017.

      MUO should strive to be better than SCROTUS (So-Called Ruler Of The United States).

    • Christoph
      March 8, 2017 at 3:45 am

      Thanks Charles! I'll definitely try Thunderbird again, I still have it and I surmise it gets updated through my portableapps.com menu which I love. I view Mozilla as a similar open source version of google in that they both work on a lot of projects which come, change often and go and sometimes come again. But Mozilla gets my support. Please let me know your thoughts on Seamonkey.

      I agree with you also that "A little fact checking would be nice.", especially when you're a professional article writer and reviewer. I almost feel duped!

  5. infmom
    February 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    I am still using Eudora, which is the best email client ever.

    A year or so ago it started choking on Google certificates. I looked around for another email client and could not find even one that was as good as Eudora. Fortunately some enterprising techie found a way to force Eudora to accept those certificates that Google has been cranking out at least once a week since then, so I'm happy.

    • Ayax
      February 28, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      You should wake up honestly...

    • Lonnie
      March 10, 2017 at 1:16 am

      Oh lord, Eudora .. not heard of that since the late 90s... that is a relic for sure. I worked for an internet provider and we used to provide it with our DIALUP accounts pre-configured. It was junk, we eventually stopped supporting it all together.

      I didn't think that junk still existed..

    • Oppfinnar Jocke
      May 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      And I would still be using Eudora if my university had not shut down the POP-server. I never got Eudora to work satisfactorily with IMAP. Unfortunately. I fully agree that it is the best mail client I've ever used, and I'm desperately looking for an email client even half as good. Since having to let Eudora go, I suddenly understand all my colleague's email woes. I am definitely much less productive with managing my emails now...