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Slashdot Asks: Which Is Your Favorite Email Client? 406

With Google recently rolling out a big revamp of Gmail to mixed reviews, we would like to know which email client you prefer. Are you a firm believe in the "inbox zero" idea -- that is, the approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty, or almost empty, at all times? If you're looking for inspiration, Ars Technica recently published an article highlighting several different email clients used by the editors of the site: Are you the sort of person who needs to read and file every email they get? Or do you delight in seeing an email client icon proudly warning of hundreds or even thousands of unread items? For some, keeping one's email inbox with no unread items is more than just a good idea: it's a way of life, indicating control over the 21st century and its notion of productivity. For others, it's a manifestation of an obsessively compulsive mind. The two camps, and the mindsets behind them, have been a frequent topic of conversation here in the Ars Orbiting HQ. And rather than just argue with each other on Slack, we decided to collate our thoughts about the whole "inbox zero" idea and how, for those who adhere to it, that happens. Some of the clients floated by the editors include: Webmail, Airmail 3, Readdle's Spark, Edison Mail, Sparrow, Inbox by Gmail, and MailSpring.

Slashdot Asks: Which Is Your Favorite Email Client?

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  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:05PM (#56611756)

    Thunderbird for desktop, Pine/AlPine for shell, K-9 Mail for a phone.

    Webmail is for the birds. And I'm not organized or disciplined enough for the "Inbox Zero" cult.

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:14PM (#56611790)

      I have thunderbird but don't use it much. I am mostly on webmail for personal mail. Not great but workable.

      I just restored files in Thunderbird for my mom's computer (third time hit by IT scam and she still won't believe that people offering to fix her computer for free are the bad guys). It's a pain in the ass because of how it does things. Proprietary file formats, databases, and such. I've got a lot of old email folders back in normal Unix text format, easy enough to copy around. But outside of Unix no one came up with a standardized mail format. So trying to fix things up, not having a nice way to copy over files was annoying, and trying to fix up weird bugs (it would hang for 10 minutes after startup, possibly due to corrupted database file). Then a day later I find that the address book was missing after all my fixes, and so I'm stuck searching the web for which file to restore so that I don't have to restore from an old backup to a new profile just to get the address book to copy to the real profile.

      Sure, maybe all the mail programs act this way now. But it would be nice if things were easier to deal with - such as a built-in import/export feature for folders and address books and settings (oddly I saw an export option for some things but not a corresponding import). I'm not happy that all these programs seem designed to lock you in for life unless you're willing to start over from scratch.

    • You darn kids - get off my lawn!

    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      Maybe Thunderbird has gotten better, but when I used it about a decade ago it was the worst email client I've ever used. A simple task like configuring a POP server was impossible till I realized I had to halt it's braindead "auto-configure" mode in midstream. If I waited for auto-configure to fail, I was STUCK, with no option to configure it myself.

      • by krygny ( 473134 )

        Maybe Thunderbird has gotten better, but when I used it about a decade ago it was the worst email client I've ever used. ...

        On that, I'd have to go with Lotus Notes. GAWDAWFUL.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        Auto-configuration nowadays is a lot better in pretty much any email client, thanks to our friend the DNS. But Thunderbird is still a bit behind in that regard compared to outlook.

    • I am a fan of Thunderbird! It works well for 90% of use cases and it has good integration for Lightning for calendars.
    • Thunderbird, and I have the inbox zero strategy. It helps me getting ahead of the game and not lag behind at work because then I can figure out what's important to work on and stay clear of working on futile things.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        Thunderbird, and I have the inbox zero strategy. It helps me getting ahead of the game and not lag behind at work because then I can figure out what's important to work on and stay clear of working on futile things.

        I use a streamlined version of inbox zero. Every Monday I do a CTRL-A + DELETE on the entire inbox. It's scary the first couple times but after that it's quite zen. I also aggressively auto-blacklist fluff, HR announcements, status updates and anything where I'm in CC. It doesn't take long to realize how futile email is.

    • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @09:45PM (#56612300) Homepage

      Thunderbird for desktop, Pine/AlPine for shell, K-9 Mail for a phone.

      Webmail is for the birds. And I'm not organized or disciplined enough for the "Inbox Zero" cult.

      Before DSL and before dial-up PPP connections to the Internet, we used shell connections.

      Manually dialing a rotary phone, placing it on the suction cups, and waiting to connect... at 300 baud.

      Again, no PPP, so basically all I had was a telnet session that broke whenever my mom tried to make a phone call. I had to read my e-mail and then manually decode my attachments and save them in my home folder before I could view them.

      My first Internet connection was though a 300 baud modem and a DEC LA-36BK teletypewriter, my first e-mail address was a .uucp address.

      I liked Pine and a little known thing called Bank Street Writer.


      E-mail was designed to be text-based only.

      I still live the old-school text-based e-mail, using alpine on openSUSE. And strangely enough, I never get any Windows viruses.

      If you have a problem with that, then you and I will not be doing business.

      Pine is amazing. It goes through a lot of teletype paper, so you want a glass terminal. Over 20 years after I first saw it, I'm still using it.

      It screws with people when you can reply to your e-mail with a smartphone or a teletype. :)


    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      What about Mutt instead of (Al)Pine?

    • I agree about webmail, and I also happen to use Thunderbird. I do, however, think that Thunderbird is pretty terrible and I wish there was a better alternative. It's just... it looks terrible, it's buggy, its option and features are all over the place with quite little coherence to it all; I am perfectly happy with the amount of features it has and I'm not asking for more, I just want all the stuff it has to be presented in a clearer, more accessible manner.

    • +10

    • I'm a lot like you: (al)pine when logged in locally, Thunderbird on MS Windows, and on MacOS. These are in reverse order of my use frequency, actually.

      One problem I have (and I don't think I'm alone) is that work mail is via Exchange only. I use this [] to allow Thunderbird to interoperate, and its.. OK. Not perfect, but better than having to use Outlook, which to me seems to have odd quirks and does not play well with my IMAP server.

      Last year I experimented with Spark email [] on MacOS. It was grea
  • No web mail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argee ( 1327877 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:09PM (#56611772)

    I abhor mail clients that work by publishing your email as web pages (most gMail, Hotmail etc). I also do not like HTML in my mail, nor do I like linked
    pictures and graphics. I use Thunderbird for my (Linux) computer, and K9 for Android, although I have also used AquaMail for Android.

    • by alexo ( 9335 )

      AquaMail doesn't do LDAP or CardDAV, wanting instead to use my address-book for everything, which is not what I want.

      Is K-9 better in that respect?

      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

        AquaMail doesn't do LDAP or CardDAV, wanting instead to use my address-book for everything, which is not what I want.

        Sounds like you need DAVdroid. It makes your CardDAV directory available to any app that needs to work with addresses: your address book (into which it syncs your directory), email apps, etc. []

        (It's also available through Google Play, if you prefer that source.)

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I also do not like HTML in my mail, nor do I like linked pictures and graphics.

      Are you one of those people who reply to HTML with plain text, and who use *stars* and _underscore_ to emphasize things since bold and italic are unavailable in plain text?

      When I get one of those email I always feel like one-upping the sender by replying with direct uuencoding.

  • Over the years, I've used any number of email clients which were everything from POP clients to shell (mutt/pine with procmail) to webmail (tried em all, including my own hosted ones) to GUI (Groupwise/Outlook/

    I haven't ever had a favorite, although Groupwise's detailed transparent tracking features were great to CYA, especially in a union environment where everyone was backstabbing one another. I currently use the latest Outlook (Mac) and it works ok enough for the desktop and I use any numb

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      But the only thing I've ever stuck with is Inbox Zero, which I've been at least since before 2004 (when my GMail archive began). It's so incredibly worth it and doesn't require any special tools or client, only dedication.

      Just out of curiosity, have you tried not caring about email instead? Just have a casual look once or twice a day, and delete everything unread once a week. It's like getting out of jail.

  • by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:12PM (#56611786)
    Inbox by Gmail Outlook for work (love the focused vs all mail option in mobile) Normal Gmail and outlook are fine as well, but I actually read at least half of my emails from my phone. Desktop is mostly just work email and I have to use Outlook.
  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:21PM (#56611828)
    i use Seamonkey suite, it is a browser & email client, and a basic bare bones WYSIWYG html editor and IRC client, (the emacs of the browser world)
    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      I also use SeaMonkey and LOVE it. If I wasn't so busy with other stuff, I would become a contributor and write some code for it and help keep it alive.

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        They need all the help they can get as most of the developers time is spent on keeping up with Mozilla (Firefox) changes.

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      Should be pointed out that SeaMonkey and Thunderbird share a lot of code to do with mail and newsgroups and are actually similar.

  • Thunderbird... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:25PM (#56611858) Journal the worst one out there, except for all the rest.

    • by dyfet ( 154716 )

      Indeed, the state of email clients is really pretty awful as a whole.

    • I'm curious what issues people have with Thunderbird. It does everything I need. I can ignore the application for the most part and and just focus on my emails. As it should be.
      • Re:Thunderbird... (Score:4, Informative)

        by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @11:20PM (#56612690) Journal

        You're probably on Linux; I'm on OSX, and

        * it frequently deadlocks on a mailbox so when you try to move a message into it, it simply does nothing. When you exit Thunderbird in this state, it hangs and you have to force kill it.

        * It occasionally goes into a mode where it's using 100% of the cpu and the user interface goes completely unresponsive (spinning color wheel) for 30seconds to a minute with no indication what it's doing. At other times, rather than being completely unresponsive, typing is echoed out at about 1 character every few seconds.

        Those are the main issues I have; the rest are more in line of "would be nice" features

      • Personally, I had to stop using it because of performance issues. Nothing I tried fixed the periodic freezes that would lock the client up for 30 to 60 seconds or so. I would never have stopped using it except for that.

  • Mutt! (Score:5, Informative)

    by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:31PM (#56611888) Homepage

    Because it doesn't expose my gpg encrypted email by loading messages into a web view...

    • by jmccue ( 834797 )
      by far mutt for me, a distant second place is Thunderbird. Mutt is quick and easy, once in a great while I need to fire up Tbird ofor the occasional html email I need get to a 'hidden' link.
  • Kmail. Although, back when I used Windows I really liked The Bat. Among other things, it uninstalled cleanly - very few Windows programs like that. I wonder if they're still around...
    • Yep The Bat still alive from the Windows98 era till Windows 10. []

      Another one i liked was Agent mail and news integrated from []

    • I use Kmail (Kontact, actually) and still have the occasional hiccup where I have to restart Akonadi, but it used to be much, much worse.
  • At home, Thunderbird with "View Message Body as Plain Text" and Javascript disabled (for messages from asinine senders that can only be viewed as HTML - grrr) to POP mail from ISP and Gmail. Never really been a fan of browser-based email clients, especially having to worry about browser/javascript exploits, etc..., but will periodically log directly into Gmail to permanently delete mail put into in the trash via the POP3 processing -- that should have actually been deleted, also grrr -- (still haven't dec

  • I use Thunderbird on my desktop. I used to use Evolution, as at the time it had better Exchange compatibility, which I thought I was going to need, but I got extremely frustrated with it. It was super slow moving messages into large folders (like when I archive my mail instead of deleting it), and it seemed I was always fighting bugs. Thunderbird has been a vastly superior experience.

    I will say that I'm not excited about Thunderbird, either. It does the job, but it feels clunky. It would be great to ha

    • by kwalker ( 1383 )

      The "super slow moving messages into large folders" isn't Evolution's or Thunderbird's fault, it's Exchange's fault. At least through Exchange 2010 (The last version I have experience with), folders with more than 20,000 messages in them cause Exchange to timeout and abort the connection. Outlook hides this by working in "offline" mode most of the time, regardless of what it tells you, and using its own s00p3r-s3kr1t protocol, while Evolution and Thunderbird have to stick to ActiveSync. But even then, it ha

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:43PM (#56611968)
    I haven't found anything that comes close to Outlook (on the desktop... not the web). I use it with Exchange and IMAP accounts at the same time. Lots of features, and even more with Exchange accounts.
    • Outlook is my primary mail client that I use for the reasons you cite. Mac Mail (on my Airbook) is a second choice when I'm on the road.

      Personally, I like being able to send/receive HTML mail - a picture is worth a thousand words and formatting/emphasizing/listing/etc. makes things more readable.

      Honestly, I don't love it and I feel like there should be better ones out there but I haven't found them. If I could find a Linux mail client I really liked, I'd probably drop Windows (and Microsoft) all together.

      • Honestly, I feel like the client is a part of the problem, not the solution. Exchange is what makes Outlook really work... but the model is still broken.

        (I use Mac Mail... I really need a fscking calendar that actually works, especially when setting up appointments with Apple corporate.)

        I need zero spam, zero marketing, zero IEEE (et al) announcements. I need messages that are clear on what is "information only" and what requires action on my part; items that I need to monitor, and what I need to have some

  • by reanjr ( 588767 )

    Loved the integrated M2 client from Opera of yesteryear. Opera has promised to deliver an updated standalone version, but it's been a long time and I've given up hope.

    • I really liked M2. The folder view feature was a better previous than gmail labels, I thought. It even had SSL-client authentication, which we used at work. I still use the 1.0 standalone client for some throw-away email addresses.

  • I use gmail, and my own domain on a gmail account. It works for me. It's responsive, the UI doesn't really suck, the search capabilities are great to find an old, obscure email sent years ago. When I change computers, I don't have to worry about where all my email is locally. It's just all there.

    I haven't used Thunderbird in at least 5 years, maybe more.
  • by Tihstae ( 86842 ) <> on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:53PM (#56612030) Homepage

    All others are imitations of this best ever email client.

  • Claws Mail (Score:5, Informative)

    by sombragris ( 246383 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:56PM (#56612044) Homepage

    I use Claws Mail []. It's light on resources, fast, stable, and can deal with gigabyte-sized mailboxes without a hiccup. Moreover, it uses the MH mailbox format [], where each email message is a single plaintext file so it's very flexible and if necessary it allows for straightforward manipulation directly from the shell. There's even a nice book [] available on it.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @08:58PM (#56612060) Homepage Journal
    The Emacs VM mail client has a lot of really unique features, including the best message threading of any Email client I've ever worked with. You can kill entire threads or sort them into folders from anywhere in the thread. It also has folders support because it was made by people who actually use their email. It supports encryption and message signing with pgp or gpg. And if you really want to bam your mail up a notch, you can hook in the MIT Remebrance Agent, [] which can index your messages and other documents and dedicate a portion of your window to similar things in the index. Even it its current decades-old form, once you get used to that, it's really hard to go back to outlook. Or gmail.

    What it doesn't do is email across all your devices and it does seem to occasionally lose my email box completely, which is why I'm not using it now, but I'm starting to get the itch to dust it off and try it again.

  • I've tried others--Kmail for a couple of years, Evolution before that--and occasionally try new versions of those older favorites but I haven't found any new features and/or behavior that keeps me from going back to T-bird.

    I do try and keep my Inbox cleared and everything filed but usually seem to have a few dozen emails that I haven't yet filed away at any given time. I don't do any automatic filing using filters as I find the filters too unreliable. I do an initial scan and drag the easily identifiable

  • I use Thunderbird on a Mac. It's allowed me to keep and organize my email locally, and support my previous move from Windows to OS X/MacOS, retaining the UI and metadata (no import with unknown conversion lossage). It's configured to download and delete my email every 10 minutes or so. My smartphone is configured to monitor the server using its built-in email client. So I can deal with important messages quickly on my phone before they move to my Mac, but they're safely off the server relatively quickly

  • I've got email going back 20 years, a ton of different email accounts, numerous scripts and automation, and damned if I'm going to move all that to another client unless I have to.
    • by flug ( 589009 )

      I'm still on Eudora as well. It looks like my oldest sent mail there is 1/29/1995 and I've got a few pieces of incoming mail from 12/1994.

      For various reasons, it's becoming gradually less & less tenable with time, but it's still my daily driver.

  • On the Windows I use EM Client. Decent interface, much faster than Outlook and doesn't bog down the whole machine. It also supports Caldav and Carddav which my server supports.

    On the Mac, it's Airmail.
  • My favorite client is Gnus. Not only does it handle my email, but also does nntp -- especially awesome when paired with Gmane/Gwene for following mailing lists.

    Once it is set up, it's a great way to read, compose, and script email in the environment that you're spending all day in anyway -- Emacs.

  • After switching to Windows from Lubuntu as my primary OS (it's way more practical to use Windows with my work and school) I also switched to using Outlook and, now that I've gotten used to it, it's hands-down my favorite. I honestly don't think I could go back to anything else.

    As for "Inbox Zero," it's a weekly goal that I try to, and usually do, reach by Friday at 6pm when I typically "clock-out" of the work week (as a rule, I don't check email on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays that I don't work). If I do

  • by fhic ( 214533 )

    Version 7. It's only 25 years old and my boughten copy has almost paid for itself! It still works and I haven't found anything I like better.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @09:34PM (#56612248)
    i used it some around the turn of the century then got interested in Linux and Pegasus is a windows app so i forgot about it for years until this email client thread opened up, just did a google search and the last stable release was 4.72 (21 April 2016; 2 years ago)
    • I might wind up going back to Pegasus. It was my first serious e-mail client, and looking back, I think it just might have been the best.

  • Because it helps me get rid of the unimportant emails (90% of them).

    Snooze is great, as is the ability to category and swipe away entire categories of mail, or the old stuff.

  • by packrat0x ( 798359 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @09:39PM (#56612274)

    IMAP server:

    Seamonkey (Linux / Windows boxes)
    Outlook (Windows boxes)
    Mutt (remote ssh)

    Flexible and Reliable.

  • I really have gotten used to the gmail interface, despite having my feature request to add an "ORDER BY" keyword command for years. I really don't see why Google refuses to implement this?

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @10:14PM (#56612422)

    Claws Mail. []

    I find Claws to be wonderful. It is fast, easy to use, portable, reliable, extremely configurable, and very flexible. Claws has dozens of nice plugins and addons. Rather than being "pretty" and hiding everything from the user, it takes an older-school approach and gives you everything you need, and where you need it. Plus, you are not FORCED to use a mouse- there are key commands for just about everything and you can customize them to death. Has full scripting, filters, and connections for every type of delivery available out there.

    There are a few odd things about it, but of all Email systems and clients I have used, I like it the most. I have hundreds of users using it every day. It is based on Sylpheed, which has been around forever, and development is still going on constantly. Available instantly for every Linux machine and has also been ported to MacOS and MS-Windows.

    As for the problems with encrypted Email and HTML- that is completely due to poorly designed clients that render HTML immediately. Claws allows you to control how Email is displayed. For example, Claws will happily-

    1) Not display the HTML part at all and just show plain-text (the default).
    2) If the Email is in violation of rules and has no plain-text part, it will just invent one out of the HTML body.
    3) If you DO want it to display the HTML (with a plugin), then there are settings to disable any external component loading

    The one thing you can't do with Claws is COMPOSE html Email in it. And you know what? That is just 100% fine and a nice feature :)

  • by koick ( 770435 ) on Monday May 14, 2018 @10:51PM (#56612564)
    Although it's a pretty good app for iOS (iphones and ipads), I just recently learned that Spark has some serious security issues. Not only do they collect statistics and analytics on your usage [] (pretty typical), no much worse, they "use the authorization provided to download your emails to our virtual servers and push to your device []". Before I had installed it, wish I'd seen the warnings on many websites against using it.
  • The last GOOD mail client was Eudora, until Qualcomm abandoned it. Outlook 2010 is OK, but nothing else has come close. Thunderbird was always glitchy. and I've looked at two or three others that weren't TOO bad. Webmail is OK.

    • by shanen ( 462549 )

      Glad to see the references to Eudora. It certainly was my favorite in its time, though I wouldn't go as far as some of the comments here...

      Too bad there wasn't a better economic model in place to keep Eudora alive. Part of the general problem of corporate cancers seeking profit (instead of satisfied users seeking cost recovery for services received).

  • It worked fine.

    But it’s totally unusable now, with Unicode and whatnot.

    I deal with a guy who still uses Eurora, and his emails are a royal pain in the butt. Plus he often can’t see attachments

  • The main bug in Thunderbird is that it supports HTML-Mail.

    Looking though the linked article, I can say for sure that none of the GUIs in the screenshots would do it for me, as they apparently all support HTML.

  • I used Eudora for years.

    Then I switched to PostBox.

    Unfortunately, PostBox as of PostBox 6 no longer supports Add-Ons, saying:

    Postbox is built using Mozilla code, and as of Firefox Quantum, add-ons are no longer supported by the Mozilla platform. Consequently, future versions of Postbox will no longer support add-ons, starting with Postbox 6.

    I guess these means Add-Ons go away in Thunderbird, as well?

    I only have two Add-Ons, but I can't live without them:

    - SpamSieve
    - Markdown Here


I've got a bad feeling about this.