Everyone manages their email a little differently, so picking one client that works best for everyone is tough. However, we've picked Thunderbird as our favourite Windows client due to its numerous features and add-on capabilities.
Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux Price: Free Download Page
- Supports multiple POP and IMAP accounts for all your email addresses
- Easy account setup with the account wizard
- Powerful, yet simple-to-use search and filtering
- Saved searches
- Multiple viewing options, including vertical columns
- Message threading and conversation views
- One-click address book adding
- Attachment reminders
- Tabbed message viewing
- Message archiving, perfect for Gmail users
- Built-in junk filtering
- A migration assistant that helps you move your accounts from other email clients like Outlook
- An open source add-on infrastructure that lets you customise Thunderbird for your needs
Out of the box, Thunderbird doesn't necessarily blow other mail clients out of the water. It does have some really nice built-in features, like tabbed browsing, multiple layouts, a pseudo-conversation view, and super easy account adding. However, Thunderbird's true awesomeness lies in its add-on capability. With Thunderbird's big add-on library, you can tweak Thunderbird to fit a lot of specific needs. For example, you can import address books, import Outlook PST files, or even skin it to look like Apple Mail. You can really tweak your experience, which is great.
Thunderbird is actually a pretty great client, and it's hard to say it has "downsides" — it just isn't quite as powerful in certain areas as other clients. For example, if you need Exchange support, you'll have to look to an official Microsoft offering. If you want seriously powerful search and attachment organisation tools, Postbox might be more up your alley. Thunderbird is a great all-around client, though, and will fit almost everyone's needs — especially with the availability of so many add-ons that let you tweak your experience.
The main competition to Thunderbird are Microsoft's two email clients, Windows Live Mail and Microsoft Outlook. If you use Exchange, you'll probably need one of these. Windows Live Mail is actually a pretty good client, and has a lot of the same features as Thunderbird, like conversation views, as well as some nice Windows integration. It doesn't have the awesome add-on support that Thunderbird does, however. Outlook is a very full-featured email and calendar client that is pretty powerful, but carries a hefty price tag.
If you like Thunderbird but just want something a bit more powerful, Postbox is a really great option. Postbox takes Thunderbird's open source code and builds a very powerful client on top of it, including more advanced search, some serious attachment organisation features, and other features that stress making email faster and easier. Its only downside is that it costs $US30, which is a hefty chunk of change. It is, though, a pretty powerful client.
These aren't the only mail clients on Windows, but they're by far the most popular, and you're bound to find something that fits your needs with these few options.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories. This week, we're focusing on email clients.