The Five Best Free Desktop Mail Clients

Web-based email services have come a long way over the past decade, and many of them are feature-rich enough to be on par with desktop-based alternatives. But there are several valid reasons to keep using desktop email software. Postbox and Outlook are the two main options, but they’re expensive. If you only need an email client to handle one or two personal accounts, then a free email client will likely serve you just fine — just be aware that you may run into feature restrictions as a free user.

1. Thunderbird

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

Though Thunderbird development was discontinued in 2012, it still receives maintenance updates so don’t write it off as dead just yet. In fact, a stable version update was released earlier this year. The client won’t be getting any new features going forward, but it’s absolutely still usable.

5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime desktop email thunderbird

And, as sad as it is to say, Thunderbird is the only free and open source desktop email client that’s actually worth using. Other open source clients exist, but they’re riddled with issues like clunky interfaces, glitchy performance, and lack of advanced features.

If you’re adamant about never spending a penny and never switching to a web-based client, then Thunderbird is your best bet. It can do pretty much anything you need, including setting up message filters and autoresponding to emails, among other nifty tips and tweaks.

Download: Thunderbird (Free)

2. Mailspring

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

 Back in 2016, Nylas Mail hit the scene and looked as if it’d be the desktop email client to put all other desktop email clients to shame. But then in August 2017, the team announced that they’d no longer be working on Nylas Mail and opened up the source to the public.

One of the original authors then forked the project and relaunched Nylas Mail as Mailspring. In addition to keeping the project alive, he optimized and improved many of the internal components, resulting in quicker syncing, less RAM usage, faster launch times, and more.

5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime desktop email mailspring

Thunderbird may be the client of choice for those who want reliability and time-tested staying power, but Mailspring is the client to use if you want something fresh, new, exciting, and full of future potential. It’s free to use indefinitely with some advanced features locked behind a subscription.

 Notable Free Version Features
  • Syncs with Gmail, Office 365, Yahoo, iCloud, FastMail, and IMAP.
  • Unlimited email accounts and unified inbox.
  • Undo sent emails within a given period of time.
  • Support for pre-built themes, layouts, and emojis.

Notable Pro Version Features

  • Powerful template support for productivity.
  • Track whether emails are opened and links are clicked.
  • Schedule emails to be sent at a future time.
  • Snooze emails and create follow-up reminders.
  • Share email threads with others using a web link.

Download: Mailspring (Free, $8/mo for Pro)

3. Sylpheed

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux.

Sylpheed is an email client that’s been around since 2001. While it does feel dated when compared to modern email clients, it’s not bad by any stretch. In fact, its old-school interface and approach to email management may actually prove helpful if your email habits are causing undue stress.

The best thing about Sylpheed is that it knows what it is: an email client. It doesn’t concern itself with tons of extraneous features that do nothing but bloat the installation and clutter the interface. Sylpheed is simple, lightweight, and full-featured.

5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime desktop email sylpheed

Notable features include fast launch and overall performance, advanced email search and filters, effective junk mail control, encryption, and extensibility through plugins.

Download: Sylpheed (Free)

4. Mailbird

Available for Windows.

If you’ve never used desktop email before, then you’ll probably love Mailbird. If you’re migrating from another client, it will be hit or miss — some parts will feel familiar, other bits will impress you, but you’ll undoubtedly find aspects that you hate as well.

5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime desktop email mailbird

All we can recommend is giving it a try. It’s definitely slick and modern, and there’s a lot to like about it. Note that it’s a freemium app so the free version is restricted in some ways.

Notable Free Version Features

  • Beautifully sleek and minimal interface.
  • Syncs with any IMAP or POP email service.
  • Lightning fast search and indexing.
  • Integration with Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, and more.
  • Supports up to 3 email accounts.

Notable Pro Version Features

  • Unlimited email accounts and unified inbox.
  • Snooze emails and set up reminders.
  • Speed reader for emails.
  • Quick preview for email attachments.

Download: Mailbird (Free, $18/yr or $59 one-time for Pro)

5. eM Client

Available for Windows.

eM Client aims to be an all-in-one solution for dealing with office tasks and communications. It’s primarily designed for email, but also has nifty calendar integration, task management, contacts organization, and even chat support — and the free version only has one (albeit major) limitation, as you can see below.

5 of the Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime desktop email emclient

Notable Free Version Features

  • Slick Modern UI interface that fits well with Microsoft apps.
  • Syncs with Gmail, Exchange, iCloud, Office 365, and
  • Conversational view for email threads.
  • Integration with all common chat services, including Jabber.
  • Supports up to 2 email accounts.

Notable Pro Version Features

  • Supports an unlimited number of email accounts.
  • Can be used for commercial purposes (e.g. business office use).
  • VIP support and troubleshooting.

Download: eM Client (Free, $50 one-time purchase)