Best Email Software

Are you one of the many millions out there who are still using your Web browser to read and send email? If so, shame on you. There's simply no excuse anymore to not use a dedicated mail transfer agent (MTA), as they provide a myriad of added functionality, security and performance benefits. We run through five of the best email applications out there today.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird is the most widely used and critically acclaimed mail client on the market today, brought to you by the creators of Firefox. It employs its own database to store mail-related configuration information such as server names, authentication details and ports thus cutting down on configuration problems.

It's incredibly easy and straightforward to set up - as a mail account user, simply enter your username, password and mail server details and you're good to go. It is also easy to import mail contacts and settings from Outlook Express, Outlook or Windows Live Mail.

The program provides plenty more benefits such as phishing protection, filtering and search options, an unlimited number of tabs to view as many messages as you want simultaneously, newsgroup functionality and an attachment reminder.

It is also integrated with all the major social networks and has a fully customisable interface. It's a fine example of open source software providing a better experience than most paid software, and is well supported by an enormous worldwide community. Definitely worth a try.

Windows Live Mail

Microsoft's alternative to the more corporate-focused Outlook is Windows Live Mail, a standalone mail client that offers all the functionality you'd expect from a modern mail program, including the ability to easily integrate with free Web-based mail accounts such as Hotmail and Live mail. If you're a big user of old-school Microsoft apps such as Windows Messenger (although we suspect you haven't used Messenger since about 2003), rejoice, as Windows Live Mail contains an in-built Messenger platform to chat with all your buds.

Postbox Express

Postbox Express is a newish entry to the market, being released only late in 2012, but is quite an interesting open-source offering, appealing to ex-Thunderbird users who want a new taste and a slightly more modern look. It's actually based on a branch of the Thunderbird source code, so retains almost all of the features of that program, and feels largely the same.

It offers advanced features such as email threading, which in my opinion is a feature sorely lacking in many other mail clients on the market, and has powerful and intuitive search functionality and mail storage options. It also provides an email tagging service that helps you to search and filter your messages.

When setting it up, it will detect any previous Thunderbird installation and automatically import settings and accounts, as well as emails, helping to reduce configuration time. For those who do not have Thunderbird, Postbox Express has a quick start guide on its tabs that will help you to swiftly migrate.

Em client

This is a very interesting offering indeed. Winner of PC Magazine's 'Best Free Software' award of 2010, 2011 and 2012, Em Client is an evolutionary step towards a sleeker, more refined and just downright sexier email experience.

Of course, it comes with all the standard features you'd expect, and a whole lot more additional bells and whistles, such as a super-fast text search, high level encryption facilities, and support for fancy signatures, templates and graphics. It also has an excellent email rules configuration system, so you can customise your email experience to the most fine grained level you can imagine - defining what domains you'd like restricted and even defining what message content you'd like to automatically reject or send to certain folders.

The free edition of this software, though, is only intended for personal use and limited to two accounts.

Naturally, Em Client allows you to easily import data and messages from Thunderbird, Outlook, and Windows Live Mail. It is also able to import contact information from other avenues like Vcard, Google, Facebook and has also support to import features from icalendar format files.

The contact database is powerful and highly customizable. It is also fully integrated with Skype and Google Maps, and has a large array of user-created widgets that will extend and enhance your experience. Highly recommended.

Opera Mail

Opera Mail is developed by the team behind the Opera browser, and provides almost anything you'll need to get a fully functional email experience, whether for corporate or personal use. It has an intuitive and attractive user interface, and is designed first and foremost to be a lightweight client with few bells and whistles but blazingly fast performance and compatibility across a huge range of devices.

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