The 5 Best Free Alternatives to Microsoft Outlook
As awesome as Microsoft Outlook can be, there are good reasons to consider an Outlook alternative. Maybe it offers too many features you’ll never use, or you can’t afford the price tag.
So what are your best options?
There are some who say that all desktop email clients are bad and should be replaced with web apps. Others, myself included, believe that web apps can’t match the power and versatility of desktop email clients. That’s why we’ll focus on some of the best free email clients like Outlook.
Like Microsoft Outlook, EssentialPIM is more than just an email client: it’s a personal information manager (hence the name). It aims to be a one-stop-shop for handling all of your communications and tasks in one central location. This streamlines and eases your workflow.
The email component of EssentialPIM is exactly what you’d expect: sleek, modern, and functional, with a layout reminiscent of almost every other desktop email client you’ve used before. The free version has all the basic features:
- Unlimited number of email accounts.
- Folders and filters for flexible email organization.
- Import and export formats: XML, CSV, iCal, vCard, and more.
- Synchronization with Android and iOS.
Upgrading to the Pro version can unlock much more:
- Synchronization pack: Google, Outlook, iCloud, and more.
- AES 256-bit encryption for advanced security and privacy.
- Advanced backups so you never lose data.
- Threads that group related emails into conversations.
- Professional and customizable email templates.
To learn more, check out the full comparison of Free vs. Pro. In addition to email, EssentialPIM has Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Contacts, and Password management features.
For $2 per month or $20 per year, you can get an EssentialPIM Cloud plan that stores and synchronizes all of the non-email features above. It’s securely encrypted, acts as a backup, and allows you to access your data from anywhere with just a web browser.
One final note: EssentialPIM comes in a portable version, which you can load onto a USB flash drive or external hard drive and use on any computer. This makes it great for students and those who travel often.
Thunderbird is completely free and open source. It suffers a bit in the interface and aesthetics department but excels in terms of features and functionality. If you want an information management solution without any restrictions or cost, this is the one for you.
Thunderbird has a number of features that make it a suitable choice as an alternative to Outlook:
- Tabbed emails for managing multiple conversations.
- An address book that’s extremely easy to use and manage.
- Smart folders and filters for productive organization.
- Advanced search features to find the exact emails you need.
- PGP encryption to keep your emails safe and private.
- Built-in Lightning extension that grants calendar functionality.
Thunderbird recently announced that it is now operating as a subsidiary under MZLA Technologies Corporation, allowing it to grow even further. For even more features, you can also install helpful third-party add-ons.
Download: Thunderbird (Free)
If you want something like Thunderbird but not quite the same, consider SeaMonkey. It shares a history with Thunderbird in that they’re both derived from the Mozilla Application Suite. However, it differs in that SeaMonkey is community-developed instead of Mozilla-driven.
Download: SeaMonkey (Free)
Wait a minute. Gmail isn’t a desktop email client!
While that’s technically true, you’ll be surprised to know that Gmail can be used in “desktop mode” with a few easy tweaks. In fact, when used in this way, Gmail ends up being better than most other desktop-based solutions (except in complex business environments).
Truth is, Gmail can be set up to replicate many desktop client features and functions. For example:
- Create a desktop shortcut and run in its own window.
- Automatically associate and open email links.
- Switch between multiple email accounts.
- Access and read emails even when offline.
- Organize emails using labels and filters.
- Navigate using keyboard shortcuts.
If you want to give it a shot, check out our guide to setting up Gmail as a desktop email client . It’s very easy and only takes a few minutes. There’s a chance that it won’t be “desktop enough” for you, but more likely you’ll love it and even prefer it to traditional clients.
Website: Gmail (Free)
4. eM Client
eM Client is a slick and beautiful email client with a built-in calendar, tasks, and chat features. When you use eM Client, you won’t feel like you’re using a free client—its user-friendly interface and functionality make it a viable Outlook replacement. You can expect these awesome features in the free version:
- Customizable appearance and themes.
- Sidebar with contextual information about your contacts, communication history, and recent attachments.
- Delayed sending and mass mail features.
- Instant email translation and language localization for 20 different languages.
- QuickText lets you create default words or phrases that you can insert in your email with one click.
Keep in mind that the free version is limited to only two email accounts. For unlimited accounts and professional support, the eM Client offers a Pro version for $50.
Download: eM Client
Mailspring offers a clean, simplistic interface that’s very refreshing when compared to other email clients. The only downside to using Mailspring is that it doesn’t come with any way to create a calendar or schedule events. Despite this, it still has plenty of helpful features to organize your inbox and enhance your email experience:
- Add multiple accounts from Gmail, iCloud, Office 365, Outlook, Yahoo, and IMAP/SMTP.
- Create a custom email signature with a built-in editor.
- In-depth search feature allows you to search emails by contact name, email address, subject line, message contents, or label.
- Shortcut support.
- Interface customization options and themes.
If these features sound attractive, you’ll probably find Mailspring’s Pro features even better:
- Read receipts notify you when contacts open your message.
- Pre-made and customizable email templates for quick replies.
- Supplemental information about your contacts.
- Snooze messages, create reminders, and delay emails.
- Advanced email tracking to help you find out what subject lines and templates result in the most clicks.
Whether you go with Mailspring Pro for $8/month, or decide to stick with the free version, you’ll find that it can serve as a great Outlook replacement.
Download: Mailspring (Free, Pro version for $8/month)
Take Advantage of These Outlook Alternatives
You don’t need Outlook to have an organized inbox. These free Outlook alternatives prove that free clients can work just as well. It doesn’t hurt to download and try out some of these clients—after all, you won’t lose any cash if you decide to uninstall them!
While some of these clients have a smartphone app, others lack a mobile form. In case you choose a client without an app, check out these email apps that promise a clutter-free inbox .