Free email clients

With webmail services like Gmail and Outlook offering easy email access and mobile apps for all your devices, does the humble email client still warrant a place on you desktop?

If you use more than one email account – as most of us do – we say yes. This is particularly true if those accounts are with different providers, which would otherwise require you to have several browser tabs open at once. As well as aggregating all your messages in one convenient place, a good email client can add features like encryption and integration with calendars, RSS feeds and VoIP apps.

Desktop clients can also store your mail locally, giving you access to archived messages when you’re offline and providing a valuable backup.

The free edition of eM Client is limited to two email accounts, but includes support for communication apps like Jabber

1. eM Client

The best email client, with support for a wide range of email providers and integrated chat

eM Client has been kicking around for nearly 10 years now, and its long development has enabled it to develop into the best email client for Windows.

The free version is limited to non-commercial use and two email accounts, but otherwise it’s identical to the paid-for edition.

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.

2. Mailbird Lite

A great-looking email client packed with features to supplement your messages

Mailbird Lite isn’t just an email app – it’s a whole communication platform to which you can add apps for scheduling, chatting, file syncing and teamworking.

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, email snoozing and quick previews of attachments, but Mailbird Lite is still an excellent choice. It supports up to three email accounts, is optimized for speed, and looks great to boot.

Setup is simple; enter your email details and Mailbird Lite will find the necessary POP or IMAP settings automatically, then get to work importing your messages. It offers to connect with your Facebook account, so it can liven up your inbox with your contacts’ profile photos, and can also link with Whatsapp, Google Calendar, free task manager Moo.do , and teamworking app Asana .