You might detest email, but if it's part of your everyday life you need a trusty email client that won't break or falter.
Windows 10 comes with its own Mail app, but this might not offer the right balance of security and features for you and isn't available for older versions of Windows. Luckily, developers have created many free email clients that do the job. Here are the best five.
Created by Mozilla, the same developer behind the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird is minimalistic in design, offering simple options such as Get Mail and Write. Setting up an email account is quick and easy, needing only your email address and password (no server settings here) with options to import your calendar and contacts alongside your mail.
Thunderbird filters out junk emails effectively, as would be expected from a renowned web brand. In fact, having Mozilla as the developer of Thunderbird is one of its greatest strengths; regular updates and bug fixes are forthcoming and support is good.
The clear and well designed interface sets Thunderbird apart, with over 1,000 add-ons (integration with social networks, design tweaks, and so on) as a bonus.
Mozilla makes sure Thunderbird's 10 million users are never short of new features, with updates delivered at a similar rate to the Firefox browser that preceded it.
Offering an interface reminiscent of Microsoft Outlook, eM Client – a clumsy name – offers a host of email services tied up in a streamlined way that works well and is, above all else, no frills. All of the options – Delete, Write New, Reply All, and so on – are presented at the top, with the three column layout offering a clear view of your emails, inboxes and email accounts.
Of the five, eM Client offers the best mix of simplicity of design and power, easily importing emails and offering an Outlook-style experience. Updates are sporadic, but do offer useful security features every so often, such as the addition of support for Google's oAuth authentication. One of the only drawbacks is the lack of a big commercial developer, which means development can be slow.
Offering a more casual twist to email, Inky is a fantastic option if you want to use multiple accounts in one place. The interface is simple, with a two-column system offering easy access to all of your accounts, as well as your calendar.
Inky works with every major email service available and offers support for custom settings, enabling anyone to add any account if they know the server's inputs. Alongside this, Inky also has cloud syncing (via a proprietary account), which means that your email is updated across all of your devices. You can even sort messages by relevance so that those from close contacts have an added drop of blue ink alongside them, and each one automatically shows up at the top of the unified inbox.
Inky's ability to seamlessly make multiple email accounts into one – at least for appearance's sake – is impressive, and earns it a place on this list.
Unlike all of the other email applications on this list, Claws Mail is a throwback offering an interface reminiscent of Windows XP. For those who don't like the mess of unneeded animations or the swoosh of a tiled interface, Claws Mail's straightforward interface that makes a refreshing change.
Don't let the utilitarian aesthetic fool you though. Underneath, Claws Mail has all of the features and functions of a more elegantly designed email client, with support for multiple email accounts and email threading. It's email convenience without the clutter.
For the 420 million users of Outlook, Microsoft's application has always been the best option. Built by Microsoft for Exchange and Outlook accounts, the program offers extensive enterprise-level options and syncs calendars, contacts and notes seamlessly between Windows devices.
The Windows 7 version of Outlook is starting to look slightly outdated compared to the slick Windows 10 app, but it still does a great job and is the best client for those who rely on Microsoft's email service and run an older version of the operating system.
Even though the Windows 7 edition hasn't been updated for some time, the Outlook for iOS and Android apps are now an adapted version of Acompli, the email company Microsoft bought last year. Outlook.com, the web-based version of the service, on the other hand, has been completely redesigned the style of the popular cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite.
Article continues below