Free Email Clients
Email software supporting POP3, IMAP, SMTP etc
Free Standalone Email Clients
The freeware on this page allow you to collect or download your email from your mail server or Internet Service Provider (ISP) to your own computer using a facility (protocol) called POP3, so that you can read it and reply to it at your leisure, offline. Some of the email software listed also support another protocol called IMAP which allows you to read the email directly on your mail server, reply to it, delete it, move it to another folder, organise your mail into folders, etc, without actually keeping a copy of the mail on your own machine.
Beside collecting your email and replying to it, these programs also provide facilities for you to create folders for your messages so that you can organize them better. Most of them also let you set email filters, where you can move messages to selected folders or delete them, according to words or phrases occur in the incoming email. A subset of such filters are spam filters. Email clients with something called Bayesian spam filters can be trained to understand what is spam and what is not. Bayesian filters are trained when you classify your incoming mail as either spam or non-spam. Eventually, when enough samples are provided, the program will be able to figure out by itself whether a new message entering the mail box is spam or not. Other facilities provided by email programs include the ability to send your own messages or reply to them. Some of the software will allow you to send mail using some authenticated protocol, such as is required by some ISPs or mail server.
(If you find yourself swamped by spam, so that your email client's built-in filters are not sufficient to protect you, an alternative is to use the services of a spam filtering service like the commercial SPAMfighter. Such services learn from mail marked by spam by users all over the world, so that it tends to be able to recognize spam out of the box, as compared to your own spam filters which you may have to configure/train. They have many other useful features too, of course, including recovering mail wrongly marked as spam, blacklisting/whitelisting certain senders, the ability to block messages written in languages you don't understand, etc.)
If you are looking for an online email service, please see the Free Web Email, Email Forwarding or Redirection page instead.
Free Email Software - Read Your E-mail Offline
- Thunderbird (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X)
From the organization that gave us the well-known Firefox browser comes Thunderbird. This open source email application works on a wide variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Features include the ability to quickly see all the unread email in your folders, tagging of your email with descriptive text like "To Do", "Important" and "Later" (etc), a message history so that you can move back and forth through the list of email messages you have accessed (like a web browser's back and forward buttons), a search facility to look for text in the e-mail on your system, phishing protection, automatic blocking of images in incoming mail to protect against web beacons, junk mail filters, message templates, and so on.
- Mutt (Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Windows)
Mutt is a text based email client (ie, allows you to read and write email) for Unix-based systems like Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD. There is also a Windows port (ie, version). (For the technically inclined, the Windows port uses Cygwin.) The software is highly configurable, supports attachments, the creation of macros for frequently used combinations of keystrokes, etc. Note that this program is not designed for people who are newcomers to computers or the Internet, or who are only accustomed to using software with a mouse and menu system.
- Claws Mail (Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Windows)
Claws Mail supports SSL over POP3, SMTP, IMAP4rev1, NNTP (it allows you to read and post to the Usenet), POP before SMTP authentication, IMAP over SSH tunnel, MIME attachments, multiple email accounts, email filtering, spell checking, full GnuPG support (for encrypted email), threaded display, templates, colour labels, and so on. This program was primarily designed for Unix-type (POSIX) systems like Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris, although a version of Windows has also been created. (At the time I write this, the version for Windows lacks some of the features in the Linux version.)
- Pegasus Mail (Windows, MS-DOS)
- Alpine (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, etc)
Alpine is the successor to Pine (which was an old email client used on many Unix-based systems). It has a text user interface and is distributed under the terms of the Apache License Version 2.0. The program runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, the BSDs, the Nokia N800, and other Unix-type systems. You can also run it as a web application.
- FossaMail (Windows, Linux)
[Update: the developer of this program is apparently looking for a new maintainer (ie, someone to take over from him), and if none are found, the software will be discontinued.] FossaMail is an open source email, news and chat client for Windows and Linux that is based on Thunderbird (see elsewhere on this page). It's primary difference from the latter is that it uses the Pale Moon browser core instead of Firefox, which Thunderbird uses. (For those who don't know, Pale Moon itself is a browser derived from Firefox.) Your system needs to be running on a microprocessor (CPU) that supports SSE2.
- Koma-Mail (Windows)
[Update: although this software is still available for download, it is no longer being maintained, and the developer does not recommend that you use it.] Koma-Mail is a Windows e-mail client that features POP3, IMAP, SMTP, WebDAV, SSL and APOP. It has a built-in RSS viewer, contact management facilities and a calendar. You can compose and view HTML emails (I think it uses the Windows Internet Explorer's rendering engine), and the email client blocks ActiveX and scripts from executing (for security reasons) although you can't block web bugs (ie, HTML mail with images located on some web server elsewhere, allowing the senders to know that you've opened their message) unless you use the offline mode. It comes with a Bayesian spam filter, a word-based spam filter, has email white listing support, supports multiple mail accounts, etc.
- Eudora OSE (Windows, Mac OS X)
[Update: this program is no longer available.] Eudora is an open source email client that is based on Thunderbird. It attempts to reimplement some of the old features present in the (long defunct) original Eudora email software. The program is available for Mac OS X and Windows. Features include the ability to organise mail into folders, search your email messages, access POP3 and IMAP mailboxes, use mail filters, have your messages automatically spell-checked for errors, use an address book, have automatic name and address completion when you start typing a recipient name, personalities where you define different email addresses and names to use for different email messages, SSL support, etc.
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