How Do You Use Email? [MakeUseOf Poll]

polls   How Do You Use Email? [MakeUseOf Poll]Last week we asked you about your favorite cloud storage service. With so many services to choose from, many use more than one service, and many use services that were not mentioned on this list. However, there was one very clear winner which seems to be the favorite of the vast majority. Which one was it?

Out of a total of 930 votes, the breakdown was as follows: 1% voted for Amazon Cloud Drive, 2% like iCloud best, 5% prefer Box over all other options, 6% voted for SugarSync, 14% think Google Drive is the best, 16% voted for SkyDrive, and with a staggering win, a full 51% voted that Dropbox is the best cloud storage service out there. 6% of the voters chose “other”, and you can read about their different preferences in the comments.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

In two words: woot Dropbox!

poll results sept 8   How Do You Use Email? [MakeUseOf Poll]

This week’s poll question is: How Do You Use Email?

Want to make some extra MakeUseOf reward points? The most useful comment on the poll will be awarded 150 points!

While this might seem like a very general question, what we want to learn today is whether you use a web interface or a desktop (or other) client for your emails. While desktop clients used to prevail several years ago, the increasing popularity of Gmail and Hotmail converted many of us to using a web interface only. Are you between the converted, or do you still prefer using a client for your emails? Or do you use a different solution?

Which client is your favorite? Why do you prefer the solution you use? What makes it better? Add your opinions below!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

93 Comments -

0 votes

GrrGrrr

I use web interface caz it is easy, convenient, portable, and does not requires any installation or software dependency.

0 votes

Steven Lam

Actually, there is one dependency, Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google etc..

0 votes

Achraf52

You can use your own email server an an open source Web interface you can install on your server, fail .

0 votes

JagdeshSingh

Web interface for me.I just use them to read my rssfeeds mostly as I am to lazy to figure out how to use the readers.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

You use email interface to read your RSS feeds?

0 votes

Ibrahim Nadir

When web interfaces are so dependable, trustworthy, easy to use and globally accessable, whats the use of other junky software. If you speak of multiple mails in the same box… These days that is easy to configure too. What more do you want?

0 votes

Loenja Selter

what he said :)

0 votes

Ravi Theja

totally agree!

0 votes

jan

I use webbased only, since desktop apps use too much of my compouter resources and time, and do not do the things I want them to. I use Gmail and Google Apps accounts and I feel very confortable with them.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Thanks!

0 votes

Erlis Dhima

I use web interface! But also I use trillian to get notification of new mails…

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Nice setup, best of both worlds. :)

0 votes

Cynthia

We both have a similar set up.

0 votes

Alex Downs

I use Postbox, which I got for free thanks to MakeUseOf’s point system (Yay, shameless plug), I also really like Gmail’s interface. I like Postbox because I can check all my email at once, and I hate Outlook’s website.

0 votes

anthonymonori

Same :)

0 votes

Alex Downs

I just sometimes wish it the ability to like run in the background, instead of just minimizing it, small complaint, other than that, I honestly like it better than Thunderbird.

0 votes

anthonymonori

It’s very annoying that I have to use a plugin to MINIMIZE IT TO TRAY. It should be a built in feature. Yes, I would love if it could run in the background normally, like other mail clients. Otherwise, I love it:)

0 votes

Yang Yang Li

Won my copy of Postbox from MakeUseOf!

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

That’s awesome! Glad you’re enjoying Postbox. :)

0 votes

will

I used mobile device just to check if I get any mail. Then I read it at home with web interface.

0 votes

Yang Yang Li

There are different uses for web based and desktop client. Web based email is easier to use, access from anywhere and no software to set up. It also saves space because messages are not downloaded to your computer. On the other hand, desktop clients are necessary for many people. Have you tried using multiple Gmail accounts with 1 browser? It is a hassle. Desktop clients solve this problem, allowing you to access multiple email accounts at once. It makes managing multiple accounts much easier. Desktop clients also allow you to create custom email filters. Control over received messages is a big draw for many. There are other attractive features of desktop clients such as full featured message composer, saving messages, and software integration.
Desktop clients and web based email serve different people with different needs.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Very interesting comment.

Actually, I do combine several email accounts in one Gmail interface simply by forwarding all my emails to one account. I can use the same account to send out emails from multiple accounts, so it’s pretty seamless.

But yes, there are some pros for using a desktop app. Thanks the the comment!

0 votes

jan

I use multiple google accounts (1 gmail and 4 or more google apps accounts) all the time and have no problem doing so at all. I use the Chrome browser, maybe that is the difference. Alternatively you can use different browsers or “anonymous” tabs, which don’t mess up the cookies.

0 votes

Mihai Triboi

I’m using a desktop email client because it allows me to check all my email accounts from one place at one time. Pretty good thing, as time is very valuable nowadays, and waiting for the HTTP to load every design line of the web interface is too long at some point. Plus, installing a desktop email client gives you the ability to use third party antispam filtering software, and it also offers better protection as the antivirus software can check emails when they arrive on your computer.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Good reasons! Which client do you use?

0 votes

Mihai Triboi

I’m using Mozilla Thunderbird. Tried Outlook for a while, and also Postbox, which was recommended by MakeUseOf, but none of them fit me like Thunderbird. It’s fast, handy, and secure.
Also it manipulates the email account from it’s roots, any changes I make on my computer are synchronized with the email server by default, without any additional settings. I mean things like creating folders and moving emails to different folders by filtering them, it’s not just on my PC, it’s also on my email account, so that when I need to access my email while not at home via web interface, I see the same story in my account. I like that.

And a big plus for Thunderbird are it’s available add-ons, they are very useful, I’m using Lightning all the time to sync my life. :D

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

I was using Thunderbird for a while a few years back. It really is a good client. I stopped using it when I had to take a trip abroad without my computer (didn’t own a laptop back then) and had to use the web interface throughout the trip. When I got back, Thunderbird suddenly seemed obsolete….

0 votes

Mihai Triboi

Well, yeah, a PC email client’s interface is not as easy for developers to change as it is with the web interface, so it doesn’t change very often/dramatically, which is the case for web interfaces. :D
Maybe that’s why you see it obsolete. *

0 votes

Peter Owen

I use a web interface because it is the easiest to access. Also, using a desktop client would require installing an application that has the same usefulness as a web client and might take up more memory. Mobile devices are hard to use because of the small screen and small buttons on the touch screen. It is very easy to select the wrong folder for archiving emails, and even harder when typing a response to an email. Since I spend between 70 to 95% of my computer time in a browser, an online interface is the best option for me. Also, Gmail has an awesome interface.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the informative comment!

0 votes

Thomas Tanghus

I use KMail for everyday use and have been since it’s inception. When not at home I use Roundcube webmail.

I normally dislike webmail, but I loath Gmails web interface. As for mobile clients I have yet to find one I would call “good”, but the built-in for the Nokia N9 is the closest.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Interesting, what is it about Gmail’s interface that you don’t like? I don’t know many people who dislike it that much.

0 votes

Thomas Tanghus

It’s slow, it’s unintuitive and the source is an obfuscated mess that doesn’t follow HTML semantics in any way.
Plus there’s no privacy at all. You have no idea how they use what you put there, and when you’re logged into Gmail, you are at the same time logged into all other Google “services” that track what you do, who you communicate with, where you want to go for vacation, what you want to eat for dinner. If it was a state agency there would be an outcry about it, but now we silently accept a corporation knowing all about us.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Not sure I can agree with the first part, but the second part is pretty much true. It doesn’t bother me a whole lot at the moment, but it’s important to be aware of it nonetheless.

0 votes

Graham Richardson

Web client for me – long gave up on using Outlook. Mainly use GMail with most of my other email accounts all diverted through Google. I have started using the new Outlook as a trial to see if could be an alternative. Needs a bit more work but I do like the look of it so far.
I have started to use my various accounts for different purposes so my Microsoft live mail / outlook.com accounts are used to enter competetions etc which tend to generate more ‘rubbish’ so its handy keeping them all in one place.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Nice method, thanks!

0 votes

Jan D.

I love gmail, especially for the ability to search past mail for that lost password, or the date I purchased something. It’s such a convenient filing system, and the labeling system is so useful. Even in my small online business, it helps me keep track of client correspondence without requiring me to set up anything else (or remember to file it.)

0 votes

Ricki Ohana

Outlook. On my PC and now on my Mac. After many years of dealing with computers I have come to a conclusion that web-mail is not safe and secure as mail programs. [Anything on the net is not safe no matter how and what]. What is on the computer is in my control, security and all, but I can’t control the web. Simple logic to me.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Makes sense, thanks!

0 votes

dohRG

Combination of both but it’s inching towards web interface only. For a long time I was a fan of the old Netscape Navigator and SeaMonkey – liked having browser and email in one – but moving away from them (and others like Thunderbird) over time.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Netscape Navigator brings back good memories. :) Back in the days, I used Eudora for emails. I wonder whatever happened to it.

0 votes

Luke Blache-Fraser

I use all forms possible depending on the resources I have. At work I would use the mail client on my iPad, at home I would use the Mac OSx mail client and when I’m on the go I use my mobile client to get mail. If I’m searching for a particular message I would use the web interface since it gives more accurate results. If I get a copy of Postbox I’ll use that too :)

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Sounds like a nice mashup of just about everything. :) Thanks!

0 votes

Scott

I am a windsock, shifting my direction (usage patterns) based on the changing winds of opinion. That is, I tend to follow the loudest, clearest, wisest voices of the moment – or at least those that claim to be those things. And that might include occasionally the ones originating in my own otherwise empty head ! ;-)

For example, I will read an article denouncing invasions of privacy and will henceforth threaten to cancel my Gmail account in protest. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made good on that threat.) Then I will read blog or article comments by immensely satisfied Gmail & Google Apps users and will, like a good little lemming, sign-up for yet another Gmail account so I won’t be left out. I must be on my 10th Gmail account by this point, and I’m running out of good usernames ! :-D

Or I will read a blog extolling the virtues of the offline email client (T-Bird, Windows Live, whatever) and will once again begin using my wonderfully featured-packed Outlook 2007 client. Then I will read somewhere as experienced emailers tout the superiority of webmail for reliability, accessibility, etc., and I will instantly shelve Outlook and recommence a webmail-only existence –until the next pro-offline client blogpost, of course. ;-)

I am truly an impulse shopper when it comes to all things email, and am afflicted with the shortest possible attention span. It means that I’m never satisfied, since there’s always something new around the corner – or maybe something old returning to woo me back.

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to being satisfied with the ride, knowing that I’ll never be satisfied with any destination. :-)

0 votes

Tina

Scott,

Sorry that your comment got posted with a delay. It was held in comment moderation, probably due to its length.

0 votes

Scott

No problem ! I thought there might be something wrong with my browser (FF) or something.

Btw, maybe you could eliminate my two comments above and the duplicate below. :-)

0 votes

Scott

Grrrrrrr….. I mean eliminate my FOUR post BELOW. (Sheesh. That’s what I get for typing before breakfast…..)

0 votes

Tina

No problem. :)

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the comment, Scott! Sorry you had trouble posting it, Tina already explained about spam filters.

Maybe next time you get sick of Gmail you should just stop using it until you feel like getting back to it. Good usernames sure are getting scarce! :)

0 votes

Greg

I use Gmail so web interface. I don’t know why Linux distros still come with Thunderbird, who still uses desktop email clients?

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

The poll suggests that some people still use it!

0 votes

Oswaldo

I prefer a desktop client (Outlook) when I’m at work. At home, I use mostly a web interface. With my tablet, I have to use the mail app to track my incoming emails.

0 votes

Raish

I tend to use web based client, dropped using a PC based client like Thunderbird years ago… just like the fact that I can keep track of everything whilst on the move.

Would like to see more integration of calendar invites etc on Hotmail/Outlook. Really liking the new simple outlook layout. Going to get a Windows phone because of it.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

I should really give the new Outlook webmail a more in-depth look. I want my next phone to be a Windows Phone too, but it would be funny to get one when I don’t use any other products that go with it…

0 votes

xbalesx

Web interface works for both my home laptops and my mobile devices. Gapps plus a few add-ons eliminate the need for any type of desktop client. Backup is taken care of, etc.

0 votes

Meidimi

i have postbox on my comp, gmail on my android and occasionally i use the web interface also.

0 votes

Richard Borkovec

I use the mobile (tablet) and web interfaces, but I usually just check it on my tablet. If I need to reply in length, I use the web interface.

0 votes

Truefire_

Gmail, and Postbox which I won here. When I get a house and build a server, I’ll use Postbox and my own domain.

0 votes

Steven Lam

I use both web interface and Outlook. I use web interface when I need to be convenient and Outlook on PC/Mac. I find it so interesting that other readers put almost blind faith in Google/Apple/Microsoft not mucking up their email. Look at what happened to this fellow:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/apple-amazon-mat-honan-hacking/

Can you imagine that happening to you? And this guy isn’t a newbie. Recently, I have two friends who got their online email account stolen. All their friends (me included) got spammed. They had no idea how they got hacked as their password was secure. Now, do you think web based email is that secure?

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Hi Steven,

Thanks for linking to this story. I read about it when it first happened, and it’s truly fascinating and scary. Indeed, if it can happen to him, it can most definitely happen to anyone.

There’s no doubt that online email is not 100%, but there are precautions you can take to make it better. Still, it’s true that people shouldn’t put their blind faith into anything online. There are always risks.

0 votes

gpvprasad

Some times it’s complex to tell.
Because when I am going to remote village and need to show some conversations to my family/friends then I may need offline storage so I may use client.
But some times the problem with offline storage is if I configured full mail to be loaded it kills band width of system..

Adding to it if all start using mail clients Microsoft,google and yahoo goes of the record of money earning to money spending :)

0 votes

Sebastian Hadinata

I use both web interface and Mozilla Thunderbird for desktop app. Sometimes Postbox as well :D

0 votes

Bahraam

Thunderbird works like a charm on Linux. It is snappy, secure and has a beautiful interface. Plus, you have access to your several email accounts in ONE window.
Moreover, you can have google calendar, google tasks, google reader, google contacts, and evernote right inside thundebird, and all are synced to cloud. In the lase version instant messaging feature is added. All job related stuff in one platform, without all the web distractions.
In my opinion the only downside is lack of exchange email access.

0 votes

Fran

I use Windows Live Mail. Not as complex as Outlook but fairly intuitive and easy to use. Because web clients use other patterns can sometimes be hard to understand how they work–maybe because I don’t use them enough. However, Windows Live Mail will bring in Hotmail and Gmail accounts (not sure about Yahoo) so can have everything in one place easily. It’s possible to configure Windows Live Mail and the ISP offered client so a copy of received emails is kept on the ISP’s computers. This helps with the ‘away from my computer’ problem

0 votes

Miggs15

I find Gmail web interface way too awesome to even try a desktop client.

0 votes

Andrew Rossaak

I use a combination (desktop & gmail) – but will be moving more to Gmail once I have the google apps installed on my domain as this will create the professional look I want. I use my blackberry to view emails when I am out & about. The desktop though has a history of 10 years of emails……

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

That’s awesome. I’ve been using email for almost 20 years (wow, that’s pretty insane), but I only have history since I started using Gmail. It’s been years now too, but it would be nice to have older things.

0 votes

carie

I use a combination of things. On my work computer, I have a desktop client to which all email is downloaded, sorted and the important stuff stored. On my home computer, I can access all emails via gmail. Also I have an android phone which lets me check my mail while out and about.

Reasons for keeping the desktop client.
I do not always have access to internet. Internet in South Africa is still very slow and can be unreliable, never mind the fact that to get better speeds I have capped internet which means there are month ends when I am without a connection.
Secondly, using a client gives me full control and does not require reliance on gmail or similar service who could delete my account or suspend if they so choose (their terms and conditions).
Having multiple email accounts means that a desktop client becomes the easiest way to access all accounts without hassle, although gmail can now also do this if configured correctly.
A desktop client still offers superior spell and grammar check options.

Reason for web based used:
Convenient when out of the office and does not require me having to sync multiple clients across different computers, never mind operating systems.

Use of android: well this is just a by product and in truth I often do not want to check my mail when out and about, but sometimes it can be useful.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Great comment! You should register with MakeUseOf when you comment, good comments like this can win you 150 reward points!

0 votes

Marko Resnik

I use Gmail web interface because it is user-friendly, easy to use, nicely organized and fast.

0 votes

Ahmed Khalil

Actually Google reduce the distance between web based and disktop client e-mail.
and Microsoft now in the way too with the new interface for Hotmail.

ofcourse disktop client e-mail still have more fetures and advantages over web based one , like local storage, security and interface flexability but i can see the gap become very small even to notice and it is matter of time with today revolution of internet high speeds and sky storage (ex. DropBox, skydrive,…..), and you will forget about disktop client e-mail.

Specially with the advantage of portability and operating system independancy, suitability to use with smartphones and tablets.

simply it is the age of internet and web computing

0 votes

Ahmed Khalil

For me i use Gmail and Hotmail for personal e-mails and still use Outlook for busines mails but this is because my company still use it.

But i deal with a lot of other companies which already switch to Gmail completely.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Interesting, thanks!

0 votes

Francisco de Gusmão

I personally use Thunderbird. It’s very organized and everything seems to come out natural. But why did I start using it? Well, I have 2 e-mail accounts, one more professional and one more personal, they’re on two different web sites, and though I know that gmail can “fuse” another account, I found that too late, I was already on thunderbird and wasn’t thinking of leaving it. But, in spite all of that, I really support gmail as a mail client, I think it has all you need.
‘Till now, the only bad thing about thunderbird I can find is the problem of synchronizing the calendar, something I use very much, but for now that doesn’t seem very important!
Thank you

0 votes

slywlf

For the most part I use Mozilla Thunderbird, for which I have 4 email addies – two active, two not so active yet. However I also have 2 Gmail, one Yahoo and one Hotmail account that I use for 1) privacy (stuff I don’t want on my main PC), 2) for signing up or into sites requiring an email addy where I am not sure how much SPAM they are likely to engender, and 3) email subscriptions I know will fill up the inbox quickly but that I only want to be bothered with on occasion, rather than having them fill up my ‘home’ inbox.

0 votes

LaDonna Garner

I love Thunderbird! I’m a past Outlook user but disliked the constant glitches and its slow loading. It just bogged down my laptop. Thunderbird’s calendar app has kept me up to date with its interactive email options and works great on my MAC. I do have web interfaced email accounts which dowload into Thunderbird otherwise I tend to use them just when I’m away from my computers.

0 votes

Vampie C.

Webbased only.

At our home, we have 3 PC’s close to each other and we don’t really have our own PC, because they all have their special usage. Heavy use like photoshop, or music/movie streaming on another one.

So we can check our email on any PC.

And when I go to family or friends, I can check it there also and on our moile phones as well.

0 votes

Furqana Fathuzzaman

Desktop client, simply because I can check many at once, as well to look for past emails offline.

Thunderbird, to be precise. Am I with the minority here?
Looks like many people use outlook for their desktop mail client… And while I’m telling not to depend on too many microsoft’s software, I guess I still have to check that out sometime..

0 votes

Claire Curtis

I used to use a desktop client, because it enabled me to easily manage multiple email accounts. However, gmail now allows you to import from multiple accounts, and tag the account source as they import. Now I find that it is most convenient to send most of my email to my gmail account, where I can read it on any computer or or any of my devices. I also no longer have worries about large attachments clogging up my email server.
I still have a couple of accounts that I manage using the desktop client, just because I believe in diversification. I wouldn’t want a security breach at google to compromise me entirely, nor do I necessarily want all my email scanned by google for advertising purposes.

0 votes

Andrea Kosteli?

I use Gmail most of the time, but I have other e-mails – any everyone is on web interface…

0 votes

Joel Lee

Interesting that so many people just use web interfaces. I find them to be slow and I hate that I basically need a permanent tab open on my browser. I use Postbox as a desktop client and it is fantastic.

0 votes

Scott

FWIW, the web interfaces at Fastmail.fm and MyOpera.com (both from the same email team) are blazing fast — faster than my offline clients ! They are, however, both still in beta and don’t have all the features one has at something like Gmail or Outlook/Hotmail. But for sheer speed these two are unparalleled (in my limited email experience).

0 votes

Joel Lee

I just checked those out on your recommendation. A blazing fast web email client would’ve been awesome, but FastMail’s free option is extremely limited (25mb, 120 days inactivity limit) and I couldn’t find a way to synchronize OperaMail with my Gmail accounts. If that were an option, it’d be fantastic indeed.

Thanks for sharing. I always love learning about new services. :)

0 votes

Scott

Hi, Joel

1) Yes, FM is really designed to be more of a pay-for-service provider. The free account is more for people wanting to get to know things a bit before subscribing. But their low-end subscription is $5/yr. (Ad-Free level) with 100mb storage. Yes, I know. Still much too low for a lot of people. :-)

2) RE: syncing MyOpera with Gmail as an offline client would: I can’t speak to that, since I don’t ‘live in that world.’ But, for any interested, the MyOpera webmail forum would be the place to inquire about such things and about any possible future plans to have the MyOpera webmail able to sync with other accounts/services (rather than merely having various external POP accounts set up as they do now). (http://my.opera.com/community/forums/forum.dml?id=76)

0 votes

AP

I prefer web interface but have tried Thunderbird and don’t like Outlook.

0 votes

Del

Nothing is private on the internet. Everything is recorded and will be stored until the end of time,by corporations and the government,so why should I use up my harddrive space to store information. Further,if I allow a mail provider to have residence on my computer they have the ability to get past my good firewall and to spam me constantly,which I can stop with my excellent browser,Opera.

0 votes

Ravi Theja

Email is better on a web interface with all those links in mails now a days.

0 votes

Vipul Jain

You missed a viable option of “Both web interface & mobile”. Well that’s what i use though. :D

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Well, yes, but I assumed everyone who owns a mobile device checks email on it every once in a while. I really meant to see what people use as their main interface.

If you actually use both the same, well, I guess you can go for web. :)

0 votes

HannibalCat

I’ve never used anything but the web for emails.

0 votes

Curtis C.

I use email by bookmarking all the email websites that I have and by clicking on them, I just access my email easily. I dont use applications because its faster and easier to use web interfaces. When I don’t have my computer around, I sync my tablet to get all my email in one place.

0 votes

Cindy Merrill

I use Outlook and my phone to download my different emails from the web interface. I find it easier to have them in one place in outlook. But, I check my mail on my phone all day long and when I have time I erase all the ones in outlook that I have read already, wasn’t interested in or the spam.
If an email looked interesting on my phone and they were 1. the wrong size -booo advertisers and marketers for bad job; or 2. something I need to keep track of I, then go to outlook and work from there.

0 votes

Anonymous

I use outlook on my computer, I have been using it for years and quite enjoy the features it has. One might say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks or can you?? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.