Opera Mail review

A functional client in need of modernizing

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Our Verdict

A well designed free email client with a particularly good tagging system, but it's starting to show its age. Simple importing from more modern clients would be a welcome addition, as would one-click setup for popular email providers.

For

  • Mailbox lists and directories are well organized
  • No limit on the number of connected email accounts
  • Customizable tagging system

Against

  • Setup requires manual input of some server details
  • Doesn't support import from most modern email clients

Do you struggle to keep on top of your emails? Hundreds of unread and unorganized messages giving you a headache? Opera Mail could be the solution.

Opera Mail

Download here: http://www.opera.com/computer/mail

Type: Email client

Developer: Opera Software

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux

Version: 1.0

Opera Mail is a free email client originally bundled with the Opera web browser, but now in development as a standalone project. It’s a great tool for keeping multiple email accounts organized, avoiding the need to open multiple browser tabs. It also stores an offline backup of your messages so you don’t need to worry about accidentally deleting the email about that critical job interview, or the order confirmation from that misguided 2am eBay purchase.

If you already use an email client, there’s a wizard that makes it easy to import your messages and contacts. This tool sounds good in principle, and it supports Mozilla Thunderbird, but unfortunately most of the other clients listed are quite outdated, including Netscape and the geriatric Eudora.

This is reflective of Opera Mail as a whole – it’s a very well made, smart email client, but needs a thorough refresh to bring it up to date.

User experience

Upon launching Opera Mail for the first time, you’ll be given three choices: email, newsgroups (yes, really) and import email.

Setting up an email account isn’t quite as straightforward as it is in eM Client or MailBird Free, but it’s still fairly easy. Enter your name and email address, then your login name and password. The incoming and outgoing server names will be populated automatically (usually corrently), and you can choose whether to leave the messages on the server if you delete them. There's also the option to use a secure connection – something that’s missing from most clients.

Further options become available once the account is set up, including a very useful low-bandwidth mode that doesn’t load attachments – ideal if you’re using your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and don’t want it to chew through your whole data allowance.

Incoming messages are aggregated in a central inbox, and individual account folders are listed below. Opera Mail’s three-pane default layout is very clear (accounts and folders on the left, messages received in the middle, and currently open message on the right), and the labelling system is much more useful than Gmail’s system of simply starring emails for attention.

We really like Opera Mail – it’s just a shame it’s starting to feel a little unloved. With a little modernization, it could easily stand alongside the slick eM Client and Mailbird.

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