Why use an
With webmail services like Gmail and Outlook offering easy
If you use more than one
As well as aggregating all your messages in one convenient place, a good
Desktop clients can also store your mail locally, giving you access to archived messages when you're offline and providing a valuable backup.
Here are our nominations for the best
The free edition of eM Client is limited to two
1. eM Client
Support for a wide range of
eM Client has been kicking around for nearly 10 years now, and its long development has made it one of the best
The free version is limited to non-commercial use and two
eM Client includes support for Gmail, Exchange, iCloud and Outlook.com, touch controls, fast searching and integrated calendaring and contacts. There's an integrated chat app too, with support for common standards such as Jabber and Google Chat, and it's a good alternative to heavyweight apps like Outlook.
Mailbird is easy to set up, and can connect with Whatsapp and Google Calendar to put all your conversations and schedules in one place.
2. Mailbird Lite
A great-looking client packed with features to supplement your emails
Mailbird Lite isn't just an
After downloading Mailbird you'll be treated to a 30-day trial of the Pro version, which is downgraded to the more limited Lite edition if you choose not to upgrade at the end of the month. There are no time restrictions on the free client.
Free users miss out on features such as speed reading,
Setup is simple; enter your
Claws Mail is best suited to more advanced users, and Gmail users might not like having to relax their account security in order to use it
3. Claws Mail
A basic interface belies a powerful
Claws isn't hard to use, but is best suited to more experienced users who want to get stuck into its custom mail filtering and support for an unlimited number of
Unlike the other clients here, Claws requires users to set up their POP3/IMAP settings manually. If you use Gmail, you may also need to adjust your Google account settings and grant access for potentially less safe applications - something you might well prefer to avoid.
Unusually for a modern
It isn't the prettiest
Inky uses a single master account to link all your
Inky's free edition is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Android, and its one-time setup makes it the perfect
After downloading and installing the client, you'll be asked to create an Inky account. This links all your
Once you've registered, setup is simple; enter the username and password for each account, and Inky takes care of the rest.
In everyday use, Inky is excellent, with a clever auto-tagging feature, intelligent filtering of message types (personal, subscriptions, social, notes and so on), very fast searching and cloud syncing between devices.
If you're running Windows 7 or later and spend lots of time trying to find particular messages or threads, Inky could save you an enormous amount of time.
Like the Opera browser, Opera Mail is designed to be lightweight, accessible and highly customizable
5. Opera Mail
A flexible open source
The developers of Opera have always considered
Its features include message templates - particularly handy for business use - message filtering and sorting, message sorting by type and a wide range of customisation options.
The client also imports RSS feeds, making it a good alternative to web apps like Feedly and the much-missed Google Reader.
Thunderbird is an excellent, highly developed
Plenty of features, and even more available with free extensions
Like Firefox, Thunderbird was created by the Mozilla Foundation (though development of the two has since been uncoupled). Like the web browser, its features can be extended and enhanced with a huge range of third-party add-ons.
Some of its excellent built-in features include the ability to link files that are too big to
Setup is straightforward; as with most modern
7. Windows Live Mail
Windows Live Mail was last updated in 2012, having been superseded by the Mail app in Windows 8 and 10. However, despite Live Mail's comparatively old-fashioned appearance, the two programs are largely the same.
Windows Live Mail delivers the three-pane layout that many
If you like Microsoft's way of doing things but find ultra-streamlined Windows 10 apps too limiting, the classic Windows Live Mail remains a sensible choice.