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Outlook: free alternatives at a glance
Many users choose Outlook as their e-mail client and PIM (personal information manager). As a component of the Microsoft Office suite, it is often a standard solution (in connection with the Microsoft Exchange Server) for businesses. Many freelancers and small companies cannot afford solutions intended for large businesses, but there are numerous e-mail management programs that are available for free.
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Mozilla’s e-mail client Thunderbird is the most common Outlook alternative for both private and commercial use. The basic version of this program is streamlined and has all the most important features. As well as being free of charge, this open source solution has numerous add-ons. The e-mail program can be expanded with modules that allow users to manage meetings and tasks. Here are the advantages of Thunderbird at a glance:
|Pros of Thunderbird||Cons of Thunderbird|
|Available for Windows, Linux, and Mac||Does not include calendar or task list function by default|
|Encryption possible||Configuration of some security features difficult|
|RSS feed management possible||Inefficient at showing related messages|
|Clear structure||Less features offered so extensions need to be installed|
|Practical functions for message management and categorisation||Search function isn’t very fast|
Windows Live Mail
Unlike Outlook, Window’s Live Mail is free. With its range of functions similar to those of Thunderbird, this alternative stands out with its clear and simple design. Using Windows Live Mail means you also have access to other Microsoft services. Live Mail is essential for users with Windows 7 and beyond since Microsoft’s current operating systems no longer include the simple, pre-installed e-mail program, Outlook Express.
|Pros of Windows Live Mail||Cons of Windows Live Mail|
|Available for Windows||Last updated in 2014 and has now been discontinued|
|Adjustable spam filter||Difficulties when working offline|
|RSS feed integration||Doesn’t support PGP|
|Calendar feature||Doesn’t support TLS|
SeaMonkey presents an all-round solution for office communication. It also includes an HTML editor as well as a browser, e-mail, and chat client. Mail organisation is carried out via instructions defined by the user and further features such as flexible sorting and visual highlighting are also available. The encryption is handled according to S/MIME.
|Pros of SeaMonkey e-mail client||Cons of SeaMonkey|
|Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux||Not many extensions available|
|Receipt confirmation||User interface slightly outdated|
|Digital signature||Browser’s startup speed is sluggish|
|LDAP directory service integration||Not suitable for highly complex projects|
|Customisable spam filter||Page composer lacks some of the more helpful tools that a standalone editor offers|
|Management of multiple accounts possible|
A few years ago Opera Mail was only available as part of the browser; now, however, it can be downloaded as a separate program. The structure is simple, and all-important basic functions are accessible via an intuitive user interface. The connection occurs either via POP3/SMTP or via IMAP4/SMTP. In contrast to SeaMonkey, Opera Mail enables users to activate the transport encryption directly with SSL/TLS.
|Pros of Opera||Cons of Opera|
|Available for Windows and Mac||Doesn’t support PGP|
|Good and clear structure||Is less intuitive than its previous web application|
|Various views available||Doesn’t offer many personalisation options|
|Portable version available|
|Management of RSS feeds possible|
Evolution is a free e-mail and groupware program that is relatively popular among Linux users as an alternative to Outlook. It supports the important features that Outlook has to offer: besides managing e-mail traffic, you can also organise contacts, meetings, tasks, and memos. The encryption occurs using PGP as well as S/MIME. Evolution is also suitable for professional use as it supports collaboration servers and the Microsoft Exchange Server.
|Pros of Evolution||Cons of Evolution|
|Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux||Doesn’t offer flexible message templates|
|Adaptive junk e-mail filter||Searching and locating messages function is quite slow|
|Connection with Microsoft Exchange Server possible||Doesn’t support format=flowed messages (e.g. iPhone messages)|
Developed in 2006, eM Client is a Windows-based e-mail client with which you can send and receive e-mails, manage calendars, contacts, and tasks. The goal was to make it more user-friendly than other existing e-mail clients. It’s available in twelve languages under two types of license, Free and Pro. The former can be used non-commercially and supports two e-mail accounts, and the latter is for commercial use and supports an unlimited amount of e-mail accounts. It’s compatible with POP3 and IMAP4 servers, chat protocols (e.g. XMPP) and with programs like Skype, as long as the user has them installed on their computer.
|Pros of eM Client||Cons of eM Client|
|Available for Windows||Free version only allows two e-mail accounts|
|Supports all major e-mail platforms||Doesn’t support PGP|
|User-friendly interface||Toolbar isn’t customisable|
|Automatic syncronisation||The 'send as mass mail' option could make it easier for spammers|
Inky was developed in 2008 and is compatible with Mac, PC, iOS, and Android and allows the synchronisation of e-mail data across all platforms. Two popular features among users (making it a great alternative to Outlook) include the ability to unsubscribe from messages and view all e-mail accounts together on one screen. Inky sorts out messages depending on their relevance and can organise them into individual folders. Since 2016, Inky has been offering end-to-end encryption and digitally signed e-mail.
|Pros of Inky||Cons of Inky|
|Available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android||Is still not available for Windows Phone|
|Allows you to add Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, and others that support IMAP or POP||Many users have doubts about security due to it being a cloud solution|
|All accounts can be viewed on one screen||Doesn’t have incoming message alerts|
|Clear and intuitive user interface||Could appear unfinished in the eyes of more experienced users|
Mailbird is an e-mail client for Windows 7, 8, and 10 and was awarded Best Windows E-mail Software Program three years in a row. It boasts a simple design, which makes it faster, and also offers a platform for e-mail productivity where other developers can create applications for the open source app community and platform. Mailbird provides support for various applications and allows you to configure different accounts, create identities, and organise folders and subfolders to store messages. It’s also possible to connect to Facebook and WhatsApp.
|Pros of Mailbird||Cons of Mailbird|
|Available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android||The free version is quite limited (maximum of 3 accounts)|
|User interface is simple, fast, and easy to use||Keyboard shortcuts can’t be customised|
|It’s an innovative tool for beginners and private users||Advanced users may be disappointed with the lack of features|
Overview of all mail clients
|Available for||Portable version||Security||Supports||Digital signature||License||Price|
|Thunderbird||Windows, Mac OS X, Linux...||✔||PGP, S/MIME||POP, POP3, IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, IPv6||✔||MPL/GPL/LGPL||Free|
|Windows Live Mail||Windows||-||-||POP3, POP3 over SSL, IMAP||-||Freeware, proprietary||Free|
|SeaMonkey||Windows, Mac OS X, Linux||✔||S/MIME, SSL/TLS||POP3, IMAP4, SMTP, NNTP||✔||MPL/GPL/LGPL||Free|
|Opera Mail||Windows, Mac OS X||-||SSL/TLS||POP3, IMAP, SMTP, NNTP||-||Freeware, proprietary||Free|
|Evolution||Windows, Mac OS X, Linux||-||S/MIME||POP3, IMAP, SMTP, NNTP, LDAP||✔||LGPL||Free|
|eM Client||Windows||-||SSLT/TLS, S/MIME||POP3, IMAP, SMTP,EWS||✔||Freeware, proprietary||Free, but use is limited|
|Inky||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||✔||SSL/TLS, S/MIME||POP3, IMAP, SMTP, EWS||✔||Freeware, proprietary||Free, but use is limited|
|Mailbird||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||✔||SSL/TLS||POP3, IMAP, SMTP, LDAPv2||-||Freeware, proprietary||Free, but use is limited|
Outlook alternatives for mobile devices
Outlook is not usually the first choice for mobile internet users. Depending on the operating system, smartphones and other mobile devices come equipped with e-mail programs, calendars, and contact management functions. The pre-installed apps are a good solution for private users and Google apps are especially popular on Android devices. The same also applies to businesses, which increasingly consider Google products as the go-to choice. Synchronising different apps, calendars, e-mails, and contacts is not complicated and Apple users can use pre-installed products and dock these onto an Exchange account or a Google app. Windows mobile device users can also make use of the Microsoft Office apps.