With a good email client, you can send emails faster and more efficiently, and stay better organized.
But what makes a good email client?
And what are the best email clients available for Windows and Mac?
Glad you asked!
Table of Contents
- What Is an Email Client?
- The Best Free Email Clients
- The Best Paid Email Clients
- The 10 Factors that Make a Great Email Client
What Is an Email Client?
Email clients are computer software programs that allow you to send, receive, read, and organize your email messages.
The Best Free Email Clients
Let’s start with some of the free email clients (and email clients with “free” versions).
Google is the biggest name on the internet, given the fact that its search engine is probably the reason you discovered all those other names.
And Gmail, its signature email client, is awesome. It’s free (though you can pay for more storage), it’s simple, it has a sleek mobile app, and it has a ton of features to help you stay organized.
Labels take a bit of getting used to, but if you can get past that, Gmail has a lot to offer. You can even customize it to a ridiculous degree thanks to its friendliness to third-party apps and add-ons.
2. Mozilla Thunderbird.
Mozilla’s Thunderbird is, like all Mozilla apps, free and open source. Don’t let that intimidate you, though – you don’t need to be an expert in computer programming to set it up the way you want.
It’s a common choice for startups and other small businesses.
Mailbird is an email client exclusively for Windows and it’s designed to help you easily manage multiple email accounts at once.
If you find yourself struggling to juggle several different accounts simultaneously, Mailbird’s simplified interface could be your best option.
You’ll also be able to connect it with a wide range of different third-party apps.
It’s not technically free, but it might as well be. You can get access to Mailbird permanently for a one-time payment of $39.50 or for an annual cost of $19.50 per user.
4. Edison Mail.
Edison Mail is a totally free email client that prides itself on never serving ads to its users. If you’ve ever been frustrated or annoyed at the ads in Gmail, this is probably a huge selling point for you.
It’s primarily designed for mobile devices, so you’ll have no trouble navigating the interface on your smartphone, and it automatically sorts email into various categories (including package tracking, flight notifications, and suggested unsubscribes).
You can even use it to verify senders, avoid email scams, and update your contacts’ information with a single click.
5. eM Client (partially).
eM Client is an email client that comes from the Czech Republic. It’s relatively new, having launched in 2017, but it’s currently available for Windows and Mac – and in over 20 languages.
It features built-in encryption options, a convenient attachment manager, and many of the organizational tools and scheduling features you’d expect.
If you have 1 or 2 accounts only, it’s free – but for organizations, you’ll need to pay $49.95 per device for the “pro” version.
6. Mailspring (partially).
Next on our list of free email clients is Mailspring. With it, you can integrate multiple email accounts, set automatic reminders for yourself, and hit “snooze” to delay messages until later.
Built-in translation and RSVP tools make it even more impressive. The free version may be enough for your needs, but if you want all the features, you’ll need the pro version – which starts at $8 per month.
7. ProtonMail (partially).
ProtonMail is highly secure, offering end-to-end encryption to all users. It also doesn’t store IP logs and you can create an account with no real personal information.
Since it’s open source and relatively private, it’s a top choice for people who prioritize security.
The free version may be sufficient for your needs; if not, the Plus version starts at $5 per month.
The Best Paid Email Clients
Next, let’s look at the paid options for email clients for Windows and Mac.
Outlook is probably the best-known email client, thanks to Microsoft’s early rollout and continued updates.
It offers a straightforward folder-based system of organization, decent searchability, and easy integrations with other Microsoft apps (as well as a built-in calendar).
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While there’s a free version of Outlook, personal plans start at $69.99 annually for one user.
It’s a bit more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but depending on your needs, Superhuman could be the perfect email client.
The design is unique, deviating from the traditional model, but its most important feature is its speed; you can quickly organize and blitz through your daily emails faster than you can with most of the other options on this list.
As with most other email clients, you’ll also get access to a ton of built-in tools, like undo sending, automatic reminders, and email scheduling.
Front is not only an email client, but also a full-scale CRM. It’s a hybrid platform designed to streamline and improve the efficiency of customer communications.
The inbox-style interface is simple and easy to learn, and it has dozens of built-in tools and other features to keep customer information organized (and keep track of conversations in progress). It even integrates with SMS and social media accounts to improve your communication further.
The Starter package begins at $19 per month, per person, and is ideal for teams of up to 10 people.
Billing itself as the “future of email,” Spike works primarily on desktop, but also has a fast mobile app.
It displays emails in a conversational format, making it easier to follow the thread, and your important emails are automatically highlighted. Additional tools, like built-in chat and scheduling, make it easier to stay productive.
There’s a free version available, but for all the bells and whistles, plans start at $4 per user per month (billed annually).
The 10 Factors that Make a Great Email Client
So what separates the great email clients from the lackluster ones?
1. Desktop vs. webmail clients.
For most people and most needs, it’s not a huge deal, but you may want to consider whether your email client of choice has a desktop version, a webmail version, or both.
2. Mobile app accessibility.
Most of us answer emails on the go, whether we’re proud of that fact or not. The truth is, reading and responding to a few messages while you’re waiting in line or riding public transportation can make your mainstream job a bit easier and less stressful.
But it’s a pain in the butt to do if there’s not a well-designed, functional mobile app to help you out. Make sure your email client has a strong mobile app.
3. Systems of organization.
This factor mostly boils down to personal preference, but most email clients have a unique system of organization.
For example, Outlook has a traditional folder-based organizational system while Gmail offers a more dynamic label-based system.
Most email clients come with some built-in limits. For example, there may be a limit to the size of an attachment you can include on an email, or an upper limit to the data you can store with an account.
Generally, if you’re using a free email client, you can count on limits as a certainty. If you pay enough, those limits tend to disappear (though attachment limits may always be a wrinkle).
5. Secondary tools.
What other tools are included? Most modern email clients offer a range of tools to improve your productivity or organization.
For example, can you automatically add meetings to your calendar? Can you “snooze” emails by choosing to receive them later? Can you set or receive automatic reminders when you need to respond or follow-up?
6. Support for collaboration and consolidation.
Some email clients offer built-in support for collaboration. They allow you to share your account with other people, or consolidate multiple email accounts in one overall platform.
Depending on how you work, how many accounts you have to manage, and other factors, this could be a high priority for you.
7. Support for addons and extensions.
I understand why some email client providers want you to use their tool exclusively. But I prefer email clients that are more open to third-party add-ons, apps, and extensions.
Getting to customize your experience with the add-ons you choose can lead to much more productive, enjoyable email sessions (even if you’re just adding fun animated gifs to your messages).
8. Available settings and customization potential.
I’d argue that the majority of users don’t need many settings available to them. They’re fine with a default experience. But for some people, it’s important to customize everything from the background image to the default reply behavior.
9. Number of users.
If you’re trying to find an email client for a team of 100 employees, you obviously need an email client that can support those numbers; not all of them can.
In fact, some free email clients only allow a single user.
Let’s imagine that you’ve found the perfect email client. It has all the features you need, it supports your entire team, and you’re personally fond of it.
How much are you willing to pay for it?
Are you set up with the right email client yet?
Yeah, we’re big fans of Gmail over here. And not just because it’s one of the best free email clients you can get for individual or business use.
It’s also because of the awesome analytics tool we developed especially for it – EmailAnalytics.
With EmailAnalytics, you can get detailed reporting on all your team’s email activity, including number of emails sent and received each day, busiest times and days of the week, average response time, and more.
That’s just the beginning. To see these features and others, sign up for a free trial of EmailAnalytics today – and see how it works for yourself!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.