These days, not having an email address for your smartphone, computer and mobile communications is as unthinkable as lacking a phone number. If you want to communicate with the modern world at even a basic level, being able to send messages to others’ inboxes is necessary, which, in turn, requires an email client/program. Unfortunately, Microsoft has opted out of building an email client into Windows 7, which has left some PC users in the lurch. It’s not a huge deal, though, as many of the best free email programs are now available all over the Web, simple to download, and even simpler to use.
One thing to note before beginning: First, you should consider if you want to use an actual email client, or if you’d rather opt for a webmail service. The former is a bit more customizable and lighter, whereas the latter tends to offer a useful solution that’s accessible from nearly anywhere you have an Internet connection, at the expense of potential advertisements—though said ads are usually non-intrusive. You can also access your webmail from any device which has a Web browser, which makes it highly convenient.
Either way, if you’re in the market for a new client or service, here are five online email solutions you ought to consider.
Gmail – As far as web-based email goes, there’s little reason to look far beyond Google’s Gmail. It’s free, it provides you with loads of space, it supports POP and IMAP, its spam filter is superb, you can label emails, and much, much more. As for downsides, Gmail is extremely popular, so if you want an address as simple as, say, JohnSmith@gmail.com, you’re looking at something closer to JohnSmith6754@gmail.com, or something else that looks unprofessional and is hard to remember. Likewise, emails sent from a Gmail address may not be taking as seriously as those with a dedicated URL (e.g. email@example.com), though thanks to the service’s growing prevalence, attitudes are rapidly changing.
Opera Mail – If Gmail’s multiple features don’t do a thing for you, consider Opera Mail. It’s slick, it’s light, and it lets you access multiple POP and IMAP accounts in addition to RSS news feeds. There’s also a low bandwidth mode that only downloads part of a message unless it’s requested to retrieve more of the email.
Thunderbird – Mozilla’s Thuderbird has been a popular free client for a long time. It handles spam well thanks to a self-learning spam filter, and you can add multiple features via a set of extensions. The extensions in particular make Thunderbird a customizable and enjoyable experience. The program can be easily altered to fit your needs without unwanted features bogging you down.
Pegasus Mail – Talk about a name that conjures up an image of quick and sure email delivery: After all, what moves faster than the winged horse of legend? Pegasus is another popular Windows email client that’s among the best free email programs available, and it has a host of features to back up its popularity. Its message editor allows for rich text, HTML, and plain text formatting, and flexible message templates allow you to make canned responses a little warmer and friendlier.
Postbox Express – The interface for Postbox Express should be familiar for Outlook Express users, but it has some additional and compelling features. There is, for instance, an advanced search function that makes it easy to sift through your stack of messages and pinpoint letters from days of olde. You can also post contents of your email to Twitter and Facebook—if that’s what you want to do, of course.
In the end, there’s no such thing as a perfect email client: It’s all about what works for you, and why. For more information on the best free email programs and clients, visit: