If you started using the internet in the early 2000s, your first experience with email was likely in a web interface. Once Gmail launched in 2004, webmail became “cool.” Once the mobile device craze picked up a few years later, email clients were back in focus, though. As great as web apps are, having a local desktop or mobile app can make all the difference in the world when it comes to productivity.
We’ve rounded up the best free email clients of the year. Of course, we know that technology changes quickly as apps come and go. However, the apps we’ve chosen as the top free email clients have been around for some time, so you can trust that as you invest in learning all about the benefits and features, the app won’t be shut down anytime soon.
Let’s dive into our round-up of the top 5 free email clients of 2021!
- Operating System: Mac, PC, iOS, Android
- Price: Free for personal use, paid plans for business
- Key Features: Scheduled Send, Conversational Email, Built-in Collaboration, and Productivity, Powerful Keyboard Shortcuts
The top free email client is Spike. If you haven’t heard about Spike, keep reading as it will transform your use of email with its innovative approach. Spike is very easy to use and integrates with your existing email services. It supports Google Workspace, Gmail, iCloud, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
Spike turns your email into simple chat-like conversations, so you can work and collaborate seamlessly with friends, clients, and team members – in a more natural way. It feels like you’re chatting over a messenger app, but it’s email.
Spike also includes a custom calendar that syncs with your online calendar from Google, iCloud, etc., so it’s easy to keep track of your appointments from your Spike digital workspace.
Spike includes several power features designed to help users become more efficient and productive with communication.
Whether you work with teams across time zones or just want to schedule those holiday or birthday greetings, Schedule Send makes it possible for you to set it and forget it. Write out that email, pick a date and time, and voila! Remembering to send that email is free from your mind.
Some things are better left for later. Spike helps you manage your time and tasks more efficiently in seconds. You can schedule a reminder to respond to that message on a set date and time.
Have you ever made a mistake in the email you just sent? With Spike, there are no worries. You can click Undo Send within 10 seconds after sending your email, and it will be like that email never happened. This feature is handy if you forget to add an attachment.
- Seamless experience across desktop and mobile
- Free for personal use
- Powerful features to streamline communications
- Business plans aren’t free
- Schedule Send isn’t available on mobile
- Operating System Support: Mac, PC, and Linux
- Price: Free with Donation Support
- Key Features: Open Source, Classic Email Experience, Add-Ons
Thunderbird is one of the oldest free email clients on the market. Initially created by the team that managed Firefox as an alternative to Outlook and Outlook Express, it’s continued to evolve and receive updates as the industry has changed.
If you’re looking for a client who shares the same mobile experience, you’ll need to look elsewhere, though. Thunderbird is limited to a desktop-only application, and there are no plans in the works for a mobile version.
Thunderbird is one of the few free email clients that include support for add-ons and themes. These additions make it easy to customize Thunderbird to whatever way works best for you.
Thunderbird supports all IMAP and POP3-based email accounts, so it’ll work great with Gmail, iCloud, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. In addition, Thunderbird includes a setup wizard to help onboard new email accounts without needing to know all of your settings.
The two more notable features of Thunderbird are the forgotten attachment feature and tabbed email. With the forgotten attachment feature, the app looks for the word attachment (and other words like file types) in the body of your message and reminds you to add an attachment before hitting send. If you like tabbed browsing in Safari or Firefox, you’ll love tabbed browsing in Thunderbird as well. You can switch between open emails like you can browser tabs.
- Fast app
- Plenty of add-ons
- No paid business features
- No mobile support
- Operating Support Support: Mac and PC
- Price: Free with Pro Upgrades
- Key Features: Snooze, encryption, message translation
eM Client for Mac and PC is designed to be much more than a traditional email app. It combines email, tasks, calendar, and contacts into a single app. eM Client includes email rules, encryption, template emails, custom signatures, a full spell-checker, and a built-in translator function.
Em Client for Mac supports all of the primary email services, including Google Workspace, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, iCloud, Exchange, and more. In our testing, it comes off as an Outlook+ type application. If you want a very traditional email experience (no conversational email, no built-in video calls, etc.), it might be an app check out.
The main drawback to the free version of eM Client is it only lets you manage two email accounts. In addition, there is a one-time $50 upgrade fee if you want to manage more than two accounts.
- Works on Mac and PC
- Includes task management
- Free accounts limited to 2 email addresses
- No mobile access
- No document collaboration
- Operating System Support: Mac, PC, iOS, Android
- Pricing: Included with Microsoft 365 subscription on desktop, mobile is free to use
- Key Features: Office integration
Microsoft Outlook is Microsoft’s business email application for Mac and PC. It’s purpose-built to work with Microsoft 365 and Outlook.com accounts. There is also a very robust app for iOS and Android. However, even though it’s designed to work with Microsoft’s email service, it still works with Google, iCloud, and Yahoo!.
Outlook includes a built-in calendar, but it lacks support for an iCloud calendar. In addition, it only works with Microsoft and Google calendars. So if you use iCloud for your personal calendar, you’ll have to use another app to access it. A popular alternative would be Apple’s Calendar or Fantastical.
One area that Outlook struggles with is power-user features. It does excellent with sending and receiving emails, but it lacks options like scheduled send or snooze on the desktop app. Its mobile app includes several powerful features, but it hasn’t made its way to the desktop app yet.
Outlook displays your most important messages first and enables intelligent filters to help keep you focused if you receive many emails. This feature works best on mobile, but it’s available on desktop.
- Office app integration
- Robust mobile app
- Requires a Microsoft 365 subscription
- Lacks power user features on desktop
- Operating System Support: PC with Mac coming soon
- Includes 3rd Party Integrations
- Optional Lifetime Upgrade
MailBird has established itself as one of the best free email clients for Windows 10 and Windows 11. It includes a great design, support for Gmail/Yahoo!/Outlook/iCloud, LinkedIn lookup, snooze, and helpful keyboard shortcuts.
MailBird, similar to Spike, includes multiple layouts for unique ways to manage your inbox. For example, you can set Mailbird just to show a reading pane to read emails as you click through them. If you get a lot of emails, Mailbird might not be the best app for you to use, though. It lacks filters or other automation tools for responding to emails quickly or automatically archiving them.
A glaring weakness of MailBird is the lack of Mac and mobile support. While a Mac app is in development, there are no stated plans for a MailBird mobile application.
- Fast searching
- Strong integrations
- Lack of Mac app
- Lack of filters
Summary – Top 5 Free Email Clients
We hope our roundup for the top 5 free email clients for 2021 has been a helpful guide as you search for an email app to streamline your productivity and email management. Finding a free email app to help manage your inbox can be a chore for personal users, but just be sure to consider the following when finding the right fit for you:
Operating System Support (including Mobile)
Ease of use
Here at Spike, we built our app to be the best free email client to upgrade your workflows, streamline your day, and help you love email again. We took away the clutter of repeating headers and signatures of legacy email apps to turn your email inbox into a chat-like app with built-in video meetings, collaboration Groups, a built-in task manager, and more. There’s no reason for third-party integrations with Spike because everything is built into one app. We see Spike as a single feed for all of your work.
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