Are you and Outlook parting ways? Ready to try something different at work or home? We get it – finding an alternative that provides all the usability of Outlook can seem daunting. But there are powerful modern email clients that can connect with both IMAP and POP accounts, which will meet your needs if you give them a chance. Here are the top options to replace Outlook on your desk, and in your heart.
Windows 10 Mail
When looking for an alternative to Microsoft Outlook, who better to turn to than Microsoft itself? Mail, which was added a few versions of Windows ago, was always seen as the “Outlook Lite” option for people who didn’t need professional email services (after all, it did grow out of the earlier Outlook Express). But updates have continued to add an impressive amount of functionality until, now on Windows 10, the Mail app is all grown up, and ready to compete against its big brother.
Essentially, any major function you can use on Outlook is also available on Mail. You have an integrated calendar app, scheduling system, and contact list that sync across devices. Perhaps best of all, you can link any major email account to Mail, including Outlook.com, Gmail, iCloud, and any other POP or IMAP account you have. Accounts can be juggled and micromanaged in several different cloud-powered ways.
Mail does trade some traditional Outlook features for newer, more streamlined options. There’s a swipe feature borrowed from the smartphone world, a Conversation mode to expand email conversations, and a couple other tricks worth exploring. However, if you prefer Outlook’s system of filtering and designation, the Mail features may be more annoying than not.
Mail is a free app with Windows 10, and you can learn more about it here.
Inky has a rocky start a couple years ago, but this email service played it smart and solved its bugs, adding new features and a streamlined, Googlesque design along the way. As a result, the Inky of today plays to its strengths and offers one of the friendliest, most integrated email management experiences available.
Link up your EMAP or POP email accounts, and Inky will give you a unified inbox to manage all your content. While the UI is more Gmail than Outlook, the options are familiar. You can filter inbox with a high degree of personalization, separate out specific categories with rules or quarantines, and pass data quickly between emails, maps, and notes. Inky’s use of cloud tech and web features also mean that you can login and access your account from nearly any device.
The automatic filtering may be a little annoying if you aren’t used to it, but if you are looking for a time saver, Inky could be the best email client you’ll find. Prices are easy to navigate as a single user, too. It costs $5 per user, per month for the service. Free trials are available for both Mac and Windows (plus an Android app).
Thunderbird is the popular email project created by the makers of Firefox. If you like the Mozilla style and don’t mind some serious accessorizing, this could be the email client you never knew that you needed. With this open-source project you don’t need to worry about any monthly fees, but you do need to be willing to invest some time.
You see, Thunderbird’s open-source format is dependent upon a large store of add-ons which you can browse and download as needed. Standard functionality is pretty limited, but with the thousands of viable add-ons in the store, you can customize your email in nearly any way. You see where this is going? Extensions can help you redirect mail, filter all the spam, manage contacts, add emoji or auto replies, make your email look pretty — and just about anything else, as long as you have the time to manage Extensions.
Related: How to send encrypted emails
So if you don’t mind tinkering and like the idea of deep customization on an open source client, leap into Thunderbird. But if you have neither the time nor the expertise (nor the RAM) to manage a bevy of extensions and their future updates, you may be better off picking up a streamlined client like Inky.
Mailbird is something of a cross between Inky and Thunderbird, and has gained a lot of acclaim for its speedy, get-it-done interface. The client can link to both IMAP and POP email accounts, and provides support for integrated calendars, layout customization, task management apps, messaging apps, and everything else a professional emailer could desire.
The software also comes with its own store. While not as impressive as something like Thunderbird’s selection – or as free – it still allows plenty of app integration for popular apps like Asana, Evernote, Google Calendar, WhatsApp, Dropbox and more. That’s something that even Outlook struggles with. There’s also support for touchscreen use and 17 different languages.
Mailbird succeeds because it draws a little inspiration from many different email sources to create a strong hybrid creation.
The integration with popular productivity apps may be invaluable in your line of work. However, note that many features are hidden behind a paywall. The free version offers a streamlined experience, but for all email features (such as the speed reader, snooze email, and more) you’ll need to pay $9 per year or around $34 for a lifetime subscription – not bank-breaking by any means, but something to remember.
Claws Mail is an interesting little entry in the email world. Make no mistake, it doesn’t look pretty. In fact, it may remind you most of the old Outlook from more than a decade ago. But Claws Mail doesn’t care about looks – it cares about function. Like Thunderbird, this is an open-source project that you can download and customize for free, so price is not an issue. But also like Thunderbird, it takes some tinkering to work with.
So why did Claws make the list? Two reasons. It has a simple, very traditional interface and management system that may appeal to users who dislike clutter and reminisce about the days when email felt less annoying. Second, the add-on system is solid, and generally easier to manage than Thunderbird. There are far fewer plugin options, and many provide a suite of features that allow for easier tailoring of complete email functionality (Vcalendar in particular is inspired by Outlook features). If that free open source deal sounds good but you want something easy to put together, take a look at Claws.