Best Free Email Client

Email programs today are a much more sophisticated breed than they used to be. In addition to simply sending and receiving email, they now can manage your contacts and calendar, read news groups and RSS newsfeeds, and even integrate with various web-based mail systems like GMail and Hotmail. MS Outlook revolutionized email and made it more user-friendly.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird is a free open source POP and IMAP email client developed by, the same folks who brought you Firefox. Feature-wise it sits somewhere between Outlook Express and Outlook, which means that it offers an upgrade to Express users and a downgrade to those who use the more advanced PIM features of Outlook. Additional features can be added through free extensions. Notable among these is Webmail, an extension that allows POP3 access to webmail services operated by Yahoo, Hotmail, Lycos, MailDotCom, Gmail and Libero. Thunderbird email files can be indexed by the Google, Yahoo! and Copernic desktop search programs.

Outlook Express users should seriously consider switching. You’ll be rewarded with a more advanced product with these features:

  • built-in spam filtering and RSS reader
  • message color coding
  • fast email search
  • anti-phishing measures
  • spell check as you type
  • inbox filters
  • Kerberos authentication
  • automatic updates
  • the ability to view your mail in conversational threads.

On top of that, the product is more secure than Outlook Express and, unlike the latter, is still being actively developed. Switching is made easier by the fact that Thunderbird looks and works similar to Outlook Express. Tools within Thunderbird also allow you to easily import your Outlook Express account settings and stored email.


Foxmail Despite the name it is not related to Firefox, but comes out of China. It's an impressive product with features that match or exceed Thunderbird's, and it's also very easy to use. My only real beef is the quality of the help files. Yes, they have been translated to English, but rather poorly; so poorly that they are actually quite amusing. With version 6.5 Beta 3 Foxmail now supports the IMAP protocol, which is a big deal for some. If you are savvy enough to figure out the program yourself, Foxmail is worthy of consideration. It's a top product with eight million users world-wide, and it's a real alternative to Thunderbird.

Opera (M2 Mail Client)

OperaAnother good option that many people are not aware of is in the web browser Opera. The folks at Opera call it their "M2 Mail Client". Though there is no calendar in this program as in Outlook (it wasn't meant to compete with Outlook anyway), it is still quite powerful. This built-in e-mail client is a combined e-mail database, news reader, mailing list organizer and RSS news feed reader, and it supports both POP3 and IMAP protocols. My experience with it was quite pleasant. It was easy to set up, very intuitive to use, and it easily found any contact I had ever had email correspondence with. Overall, it's a very nice product.

GMail (WebMail)

Provided by Google, GMail is a web based client. Features wise, it has a lot that you would expect such as:

  • Works with both POP and IMAP
  • Arrange emails into folders by adding 'Labels'
  • Filters
  • Contacts and Tasks can be added and amended

There are also other features that are good, especially if you use other Google products. One such feature is Google Labs which is a series of add ons that you can use to customise your GMail such as Google Docs, Maps, Goggles and Calender. You can also add multiple or priority in-boxes and web clips which essentially puts a news or other feed on your page. It's worth noting though that some of the add ons are dependant upon the browser your using.

All these are nice touches and there are numerous ways you can customise your emails, but they are only really useful as with all things, if you need them.

Gmail is free but there are ads displayed at the top of the list of emails which is fairly unobtrusive, but can make things look a bit cluttered and at first for me when I tested it, a little confusing as I wasn't expecting it.

You get 7600 MB of space for free, but if you need more you will have to pay to upgrade so this is something to be aware of.

Gmail finally got a makeover and it rolled its new version. I personally think the new look is nice and search option is upgraded. When you open your Gmail account you will see the 'Switch to new look' option on the top of the page. So check it out.

As with any web based email client, there are pro's and con's, the biggest pro being you can access your emails on any computer, and I didnt find any con for this.


DreamMail is an email client that can deal with POP, IMAP and Web Mail accounts. It's User Interface bares a resemblance to Outlook but while its a simple layout there is a lot of functionality.

The main features are:

  • Import from Outlook Express and Foxmail
  • Customisable Templates
  • Remote Mailbox Management
  • Create a separate email storage
  • Supports multiple accounts
  • Supports POP3, APOP, SMTP, eSMTP, SASL

Another good feature is the option to create separate accounts for different users, this enables them to have their own email accounts in their profile and the ability to password protect it.

Set up is fairly straightforward, you need to copy any POP or IMAP settings across but this isn't a major problem. Adding Web Mail accounts is as easy as inputting your Web Mail address, plus your username and password.

The only downside is that it lacks the true portability of a Web Based email client, but if that's not something your worried about then this would be a good option.


Incredimail is an email client currently in version 2.0 that supports both IMAP, POP3 and Webmail accounts. The basic version is free to download and use, however additional features like animations, themes and junk filters require you to upgrade to the premium service so that is something to watch out for.

The user interface is well polished with basic animations that pop up when you recieve a new email or if you delete one. This is a nice touch but can get in the way, it can however be disabled.

Incredimail supports Webmail accounts for GMail, Yahoo, AOL and Windows Live Hotmail.

The initial setup was fairly painless, the software detected the settings I had for Outlook although it got one of the port numbers wrong but that was an easy fix in the settings. It also downloaded all the existing emails in my inbox and transferred them.

However you are required to select the tool-bar integration and have incredimail as your default search engine before you can proceed.

As a basic email client that can handle all of the main accounts, this is a very easy to set up and capable program, but its limited by the need to upgrade for other main features.


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