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Four email clients to manage your correspondence

Use email clients on PCs has fallen sharply over the last decade, contrasting with the widespread use of official mobile apps for services like Gmail and Outlook, which are ultimately the same but with different support.

The fall of email clients has its most bizarre side with Thunderbird, a well-known Mozilla application. The foundation behind Firefox has been trying to get rid of Thunderbird for years, and then they have to keep it, even though it’s owned by Mozilla Corporation. Despite the sense of resignation that this decision may have caused at first, the fact is that there are now ambitious plans to revive the app, and after the K-9 Mail conversion, an Android version is on the way. Yes, mail clients aren’t living their golden years, but at least Thunderbird is once again a development worth keeping an eye on.

Email clients are a type of application that interfaces with an email service. It can be public (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo…) or be installed in a closed infrastructure (for example in a company). Its basic features include accessing emails to read them and download attached files, as well as the ability to post messages by creating new threads or replying to a thread the user has previously received.

Obviously, there are a lot of options in between, such as sending messages only in plain text or HTML format and electronic signature solutions. Although it may seem strange, it is still possible to find people who are very suspicious of HTML emails due to the possible embedding of malware, although in any case it is advisable not to view any messages from suspicious origins and never to load images using the default. You know, with safety, always on the front foot.

Source: Pixabay

As for displaying emails, users usually use two methods. The first is Post Office Protocol, better known as POP3 referring to its third version. It is a protocol that is responsible for downloading e-mails so that they can be viewed locally and without an Internet connection, which can be very useful in contexts or situations where the Internet connection is not of good quality, but in return there is much more places. lost to data storage. As e-mail clients have become less and less used and the quality of Internet connections has improved, their use has declined so much that many clients no longer offer POP3 support, forcing them to support IMAP.

And on the other side is Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), a standard Internet protocol used by email clients to retrieve messages from a server over a TCP/IP connection. It was designed to allow full mailbox management by multiple email clients, so clients typically leave messages on the server until the user explicitly chooses to delete them.

With IMAP, mail clients are constantly connected to the server and its interface remains active for downloading messages on demand. In this way, they can offer users a faster response, especially in situations where there are a lot of messages.

Recently, in 2019, it was introduced JSON Meta Application Protocol (JMAP), a set of related open standard Internet protocols for working with e-mail. JMAP is implemented using a JSON API over HTTP and was developed as an alternative to IMAP/SMTP and proprietary email APIs such as Gmail and Outlook. Additional protocols and data models on top of the JMAP core for handling contacts and calendar synchronization are currently being developed to offer a potential replacement for CardDAV and CalDAV. At the usage level, of course, IMAP is still popular.

Mobile email clients

Source: Pixabay

And we must not forget the conclusion Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), a standard Internet communication protocol for the transmission of electronic mail. User-level email clients typically use SMTP only to send messages to a relay server, usually over port 587 or 465.

Are you lost with so many logs and technical data? The reality is that for a long time modern email clients tend to automatically configure themselves when you try to use an account from a popular service like Gmail and Outlook, which of course reduces the knowledge required by the user. In general and after entering the password, it is normal for the application to ask if you want to use POP3 or IMAP to receive emails, and as we have already said, many applications use the latter as the only option.

After a brief explanation of what e-mail clients are and the main protocols they use, we will mention three such applications available at least for Windows and one exclusively for Linux.

mozilla thunderbird

We’ll start with one option that offers powerful cross-platform support, Thunderbird, which officially covers Windows, Linux and macOS, is preparing to land on Android via the aforementioned K-9 Mail conversion. Additionally, it is free software as the source code of its desktop application is published under the MPL 2 license.

During its early years, it was characterized by being a simple and easy-to-configure e-mail client, which made it easier especially for users who used IMAP, a feature that is no longer exclusive and, perhaps in the opinion of some, is currently better implemented in other applications .


In the second decade of the 21st century, it ended up in a state of semi-abandonment, and Mozilla publicly announced its intention to get rid of Thunderbird, but after not finding a new home for it, it had to stay with the client, albeit under a different organization.

It is a completely complete application and with support for calendars, directories and the Matrix communication protocol. On the other hand, its interface has been redesigned to keep up with the times, although it still has the disadvantage of not having support for Microsoft Exchange by default.


Another option that stands out for being free and cross-platform software with support for Windows, Linux and macOS. Mailspring supports multiple accounts via IMAP and Office 365, unified inbox, touch gestures, themes and layouts, spell check, contact management, undo, and advanced keyboard shortcuts. However, many may appreciate that its design is more in line with the lines typically used in recent years, rather than looking like a turn-of-the-century app.

Mailspring It was born as a fork of another mail client called Nylas N1 and then Nylas Mail. However, the lead developer decided to end the project in September 2017 and made a gesture of releasing its source code under the MIT license. From there, one of the core developers decided to continue its development by creating the aforementioned Mailsrping, but relicensing the source code to GPLv3 to prevent it from being shut down by derivative projects.

Mailspring makes a Pro version available for $8 a month, which offers “powerful template support,” rich contact profiles, company summaries, and the ability to snooze messages. Despite everything, the regular version should be enough for the average user.


Microsoft Outlook

We could not forget the e-mail client, which is traditionally part of Microsoft Office, so that hundreds of millions of users had it or have it on their computers, even if they did not use it later, because to manage one or two accounts, the use of an application of these characteristics would be justified only if there is a need for automation and/or quick access to correspondence.

Due to its origin, it is obvious that it is a proprietary application and that Its main platform is Windows, although it also supports macOS and makes apps available for Android and iOS which can be obtained from Play Store and App Store.

Microsoft Outlook

If we focus on the e-mail client present in the Microsoft Office suite, we are talking about an application widely used in a business environment (or at least used to be)so you can already imagine that its value is more than proven, even if 20 years ago it had to put in some barriers, such as not loading images in HTML messages by default, to prevent potential malware attacks.

Like the other options mentioned in this article, it also has compatibility with calendars, including CalDAV, iCalendar, SyncML and vCard 3.0, and if the user wishes, it is possible to configure a Gmail account.


And we close the list with an exclusive Linux application: Evolution. Many criticize its outdated interface and the fact that it is somewhat rough, but it is an email client that has more than proven itself and also has support for Microsoft Exchange.

Evolution was created by Ximian, a company focused on developing products around GNOME and created by Miguel de Icaza, one of the fathers of the aforementioned desktop environment. After changing hands several times due to Novell’s purchase of Ximian and the various reorganizations that SUSE went through, in 2013 its development was transferred mainly to Red Hat after SUSE decided to get rid of Evolution in 2012. It is currently part of GNOME and The Windows and Mac versions were discontinued about ten years ago.

It’s free software, supports IMAP and POP3, and over the years has included mechanisms to automate the configuration of Gmail and Outlook accounts., although it is also capable of integration with accounts configured at the GNOME desktop level. Despite its advances, it can be a little difficult to set up, but it is an application that has proven itself and is one of the most reliable alternatives to Outlook in Microsoft Office for business.



Although far from their golden days, especially for casual PC users, email clients are still very useful, especially if you manage a large number of email accounts from different services.

Even if you don’t use a lot of user accounts, they can be a good way to improve and automate your own personal organization.

Cover image: Pixabay

Source: Muy Computer



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