Web

Consider this your one-stop shop for your next webmail client

Web-based emailEmail has undoubtedly revolutionized the way people communicate around the world. Distance — an obstacle once overcome by smoke signals, carrier pigeons, and snail mail (among other things) — is no longer an issue given the rise of technology and a little thing called the Internet. The digital messages, thought to be a short-term fad by some, quickly proved their worth and potential for longevity given their speed and sheer convenience. Yes, there are plenty of other modern options for messaging others (Twitter, Facebook, text messages), but all those services skimp on the intuitive features that have become synonymous with today’s email clients. And although desktop clients are wonderful in their own right, Web-based clients have become the norm for good reason.

Webmail touts the same flagship tools we all know and love — from handy spam filters to robust cloud storage capacity — but can be accessed from just about anywhere without any standalone software via an Internet browser. They are quick, convenient, and just plain awesome.

Here are our choices for the best Web-based email clients so you can access your email from anywhere and severe your ties with those ball-and-chain desktop clients. Once you’re up and running, be sure to check out our tips for making your account more secure so you can safeguard your email from hackers and other potential privacy threats.

Gmail

Google’s native email software is one of the best — and most popular — Web-based email clients out there. The feature-rich email account is completely free and comes bundled with 10 GB of cloud storage for your messages, attachments, and any other files you might want to access online. The newly redesigned interface and organizational options are pretty standard, but that’s not to say they’re not attractive, and the filters do an excellent job sifting through the routine onslaught of spam you’re likely receive on a daily basis. Gmail users can also manage multiple inboxes simultaneously without fear of slowing down the client’s speedy operation. Other notable features include labels, keyboard shortcuts, built-in IM, video calling and an offline mode for those times when you can only access the shoddiest of wireless connections. Plus, you can customize the look of your inbox with a ton of premade themes and adjust your display density for a less chaotic look.

Although Gmail does raise some questionable privacy concerns — it admittedly scans your email for ad targeting purposes — it remains an excellent option for webmail given its simplicity, features and coupled Google integration. There is even a mobile version available for both Apple and Android devices.

Still unconvinced? We have a laundry list of reasons why Gmail is awesome.

Gmail Example

Outlook.com

Microsoft’s new webmail service represents a radical departure from Hotmail, incorporating the finer elements of Windows 8 with SkyDrive functionality and unparalleled social network integration. Although the software isn’t as customizable as some of the other webmail options on our list, it’s still incredibly clean, organized, fast and chock full of great features that make it a standout. The interface is streamlined and organized, the spam filter top-notch, and the virtually unlimited storage gives it the upper hand over many of its competitors. You can also send photo slideshows, create time-based deletion rules, and create aliases that link to your inbox for when anonymity is of the utmost concern. Oh, and file attachments can be up to a whopping 300MB, putting Gmail’s 25MB limit to shame.

In a nutshell, the software is simplistic and no more complicated than need be, but still packs a punch with an excellent feature set. There’s a reason Outlook attracted more than 60 million users within six months of its official release — it may be the only webmail capable of combating Google’s Gmail for the title of top dog. There is also a mobile version Android devices.

Outlook Example

AOL Mail

We all remember the “you’ve got mail!” alert — some of us more than others. Well the good folks behind the 90s’ most annoying phrase are rethinking their approach to the webmail game. Their newly redesigned interface and tools are admirable, but fall short of Gmail, Outlook, and some of the other Web-based email clients on our list. Still, the client is worth a look if you don’t need to do anything too fancy and can ignore the enormous ads on either side of the main panel. The built-in IM is a nice touch, as are the calendar functions and message previews, but the software is plagued by a general lack of organization and the inability to view other email accounts.

The new version of AOL Mail is certainly the most attractive and feature-rich yet, and while it’s more than suitable for casual email and chat purposes, those wanting to get the most out of their webmail should forgo the classic software in favor of a more capable client.

AOL Mail

Yahoo Mail

More than 15 years after its original launch, Yahoo Mail remains the number one email client in the United States (Gmail takes the crown worldwide). Like most email clients on our list, the software is constantly being subjected to a facelift, and the new redesign is one of the best yet. All of the standard email features you come to expect are included — a spam filter, cloud storage and a calendar — as well as a great photo app that lets you peer through every image you’ve ever sent or received since you started your account. Although the spam filter still remains subpar when compared to similar services, the software received a significant speed boost during the new overhaul, helping it compete alongside the likes of Gmail and Outlook. There is even a mobile version available for both Apple and Android devices so you can access your email on the go.

Yahoo Mail is still the same old webmail you grew up with, albeit with some modern enhancements. Don’t get too cozy with the new webmail though — we still expect some changes now that former Google executive Marissa Mayer is at the helm.

Yahoo Mail

Mail.com

You wouldn’t expect much from a service with such a generic name, but Mail.com still delivers a worthwhile webmail experience. The clean design, the ability to choose from a plethora of domain options and the free alias creation feature help differentiate the service from the rest of our lineup. Although it’s not the easiest service to navigate, especially when using the somewhat-integrated calendar, it does supply a spam filter and a wealth of organizational tools aimed at maintaining the cleanliness of the interface. The ability to compile multiple inboxes from other Web-based email clients is also a wonderful feature, but the service isn’t equipped with typical industry standards such as built-in IM, a media player, and free IMAP access. However, there is a mobile version available for both Apple and Android devices for easy access without a computer.

Mail.com is the go-to choice if you’re looking for a wide selection of email address domains, but that’s about it. The mail features, while good, aren’t as integrated or fleshed out as they could be, making it one of the least feature-rich webmail services on our list.

The breakdown

Below is a brief, side-by-side comparison of some of the major incentives — and drawbacks — to our top picks for the best web-based email clients. While some software is inherently better than others, it all depends on what you’re looking for in a webmail service. There’s nothing wrong with shopping around a bit before you decide.

Service Gmail Outlook AOL Mail Yahoo Mail Mail.com
Cloud Storage 10GB Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Attachment Limit 10GB 300GB 25GB 25GB 50GB
Themes Y Y Y Y Y
IM Y Y Y Y N
POP/IMAP Support Y Y/N Y Selective Y
Advertisements     Minimal         Minimal        Abundant        Moderate        Moderate   
   Social Network Integration   Limited Y Y Y Y
Mobile Version Y Y Y Y Y

What did you think of our selection for the best web-based email clients available? What webmail floats your boat? Let us know in the comments below.

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