Mailbird Blog

What Is an Email Client? And How to Choose One

What Is an Email Client? And How to Choose One
What Is an Email Client? And How to Choose One

Tired of feeling trapped in your inbox, losing time to emails when you should be working?

Instead of being bombarded by emails and tasks, an email client can help you to be more productive, allowing you not only to navigate through your inbox but manage and organize its contents to make your day easier.

Which begs the question: which email client should I be using?

In this article we break down the top best email clients you should be using to create a better relationship with your inbox today.

Get the Best Email Client for Windows on Your Desktop Now
Get Mailbird Free

Email Clients vs. Webmail

When looking for email clients, you might come across some webmail options as well. Before picking one or the other, it would help to understand exactly what an email client or webmail is and which one suits your email needs.

What Is a Webmail?

A webmail is a web-based email service that allows you to use email features using your website browser.

Most email services provide a webmail app as an interface for managing email. But you can only manage emails associated with this particular email service. For example, Gmail's webmail allows you to manage Gmail accounts only.

This email provider can be a third party or a site provided by your ISP. You can access email features, and the website provider provides extensions.

These are the top features of using webmail services:

  • Easy access without downloading software. Unlike email clients that you have to download to access, you can use a webmail provider without the need for software installation.
  • Access emails only via the internet. As the name suggests, "web" mail can only be accessed via your webmail website browser. This means that you'll always need an internet connection in order to access the full features of your emails.
  • Access emails within your web browser. Webmail allows you to access your emails when browsing your website provider, for example, Google and Gmail.
  • Emails can be backed up in the email server. Webmails are automatically backed up by the email server or website provider, so you don't have to manually backup your emails.
  • Emails are automatically scanned for viruses by the service provider. When using webmail your emails and their attachments are automatically scanned by the website service provider.

What is an Email Client?

Email clients are web-based or desktop apps that allow you to manage email accounts from different email service providers.

Outlook, for example, also has a desktop version that allows you to connect @outlook accounts and email accounts provided by other hosting platforms.

  • Emails are accessible without internet access. Email clients allow you to access an "offline" feature, which allows you to view, reply or write professional emails without being connected to the internet on your desktop or mobile. Webmail does offer this but this is a built-in feature for desktop email clients. But you'll only have access to your emails that were updated before you disconnect from the internet so keep that in mind.
  • Easily customize your email client. Unlike webmail, most email clients allow you to customize the layout, color and other features so the user experience is more personalized.
  • Emails can be backed up to the computer. Email clients allow you to back up your emails so you can securely find, archive or delete emails on your computer. This has to be done manually as not everyone wants their emails to be stored.
  • More email management features. Email clients allow you to integrate or add extensions to your email provider for additional features so you can increase your email productivity.
  • An up-to-date antivirus program is required. Email will need an antivirus program to help scan your emails and protect you from viruses; this isn't an automatic feature with email clients.

Why Use Desktop Email Clients?

Overall, desktop email clients provide the most benefits for people who manage multiple accounts, need additional features and tools. If you're trying to decide if you should be using a desktop email client, here are some reasons why you should consider it:

Easily Manage Multiple Emails (with Different Domains)

Most desktop email clients allow you to add and manage different email accounts in a unified inbox. You can add more emails with different domains or from other email apps to your desktop email client. This allows you to handle all your emails, whether it's from Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook, and most IMAP mail accounts, without moving from platform to platform.

Access Your Email Offline

Desktop email clients allow you to access your inbox both online and offline. Once your email client has already downloaded the emails onto your computer, you can access them anytime this gives you more flexibility to move from place to place without worrying about being disconnected.

Security Features and Encryption

You have more advanced security and encryption features with your email client provider for more than your email software or app or webmail options. Encryption is a way of keeping the data in your emails safe as the email can't be accessed without an encryption key unique to your account. Most email clients allow you to encrypt and secure your emails manually or automatically.

Seamlessly Integrate With Desktop Apps

Most, but not all, desktop email clients offer more desktop app integration features to create a more manageable workflow to complete tasks without leaving your email client app. This could include integrations with web-based apps or tools like Facebook, Asana, or Slack or versatile apps like Google Docs, Excel and G-Drive.

The Difference Between POP, IMAP, and SMTP

Before we jump into the popular email clients to choose from, let's break down how email clients communicate with email servers.

Essentially email clients received a number of protocols to send and receive messages through email servers from email providers.

The most commonly used protocols include:

  • POP (Post Office Protocol): this is used to download messages that are stored on your computer or emails and folders synchronized with your server using IMAP and exchange protocols.
  • IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol): this allows email clients to sync access to the same account, see the same messages and actions.
  • SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol): this is used to send emails exclusively. With an IMAP account your sent emails are copied and your email clients can access it.

Understanding the various protocols gives you an idea of the must-have features you'd like to have when you're selecting an email client. For example if you store your messages on your computer then you'll need an email client that offers POP and IMAP features.

After all, not all email clients offer the same or all protocols. So when you're browsing through our list of email clients below in this article be sure to check if they allow you to use POP, IMAP, or SMTP features.

What to Look for in a Good Email Client

There are a lot of options when it comes to finding email clients, but not all are built the same. If you're new to email clients or email software, you might need some help differentiating what really makes a "good email client."

To help, here is a list of things to consider when choosing a good email client to help you manage your emails:

The Email Client Has Basic Email Management Functions

Integrations and apps are great, but a professional email software comes with ready to use built-in email management functions.

Good email clients come readily made with email management features that help you to navigate through your emails while simultaneously helping you to be more productive in your inbox. Basic email management functions include:

Adding Filters to Your Inbox

An email client should give you more autonomy over your inbox by allowing you to create smart filters. Creating filters to allow you to know automatically what emails are important, spam or to be sent to a specific folder in your inbox for later viewing.

Archive Unwanted Emails

Your email client should allow you to do some occasional spring cleaning with archiving features to get rid of unwanted emails.

Snooze Emails for Later

Modern email clients should allow you to snooze emails for later to avoid distractions or have a more productive inbox flow.

The Email Client Allows Customization

A good email client should allow you to customize your layout, inbox, notifications and more. You want to be able to control how it looks and feels.

This adds to a better user experience; after all, you want to use an email client you look forward to, not one that feels like more work.

If an email client does have customization options, look for the options that appeal to you the most. For some people, minimal customization is fine, while others need more extensive customization options.

The Email Client is Affordable

The next feature you should consider is how affordable the software is. You'll be relying on this email client 365 days of the year so being able to afford it makes a big difference. Switching email clients can be tedious, so you want to find an email client you'll be able to afford all year long. If cost isn't an issue, then you can rule this feature out.

The Email Client Improves Email Productivity

The purpose of an email client is to help you boost your email-management productivity. Email clients should allow you to manage your emails seamlessly with features such as a speed reader, snooze button and segmentation, plus more. If your software is making you feel trapped in your inbox, then you probably need a new email client.

The Email Client Provides App Integration

A good email client allows you to integrate the apps you use the most during your day-to-day activities to help you be at your most productive. The email client software should allow you to manage your email workload without moving from app to app. An email client should come with one or more of the following app integration options:

  • Internal team communication apps, like Slack;
  • Social media apps, like Facebook or Instagram;
  • Time management apps like Toggle; and
  • Writing apps, like Evernote or Medium.

Accessible With/Without Internet

You should be able to access your email client with or without an internet connection so you can manage your emails on the go or wherever you may be located. If you're chained to your Wi-Fi, then it's no better than a webmail email provider.

Up-to-Date Features

Email clients should be consistently adding or improving features. The email and work landscape changes daily and as such you should be able to rely on your email client to keep up so that your workflow is straightforward and simple.

After all, updates are for fine-tuning and improving your user experience, so if you notice that the email client hasn't been updated in years, or early this year, then that should be a red flag that this might not be a good email client software to choose.

The Email Client Has a Paid Subscription

There are a few email clients that come with free trials and use, however paid email clients are more likely to be continually developed and updated. When an email software is free, what you see is what you get… for a long time.

Most email clients that come for free leave it up to the users to code or customize as they like, but the framework and interface stays the same, and if something goes wrong, you have little to no support.

Email clients with paid subscriptions ensure that users get new tools, functions, app integrations, support and then some on a yearly basis if not shorter. This doesn't mean that you should pick the most expensive email client, but keep in mind that price should also be a factor when selecting a good email client if you'd like to access more up to date features.

Now let's dive into the details and features of the four most commonly used email clients:

Mailbird is an email client that allows you to effortlessly manage multiple emails in one place. Easily sync your calendars, contacts and tasks to create a unified inbox and workspace.

It comes with a modern interface that allows beginners and experts to effortlessly learn the features and tools. Not to mention you can customize Mailbird to your personal preference and tech-friendly set up for POP3 and IMAP protocols.

If you live in your inbox Mailbird allows you to integrate apps like Whatsapp, Asana, LinkedIn and more so you consolidate your workspace in one app rather than moving from app to app.

Built-in Features

Mailbird ensures that it's email client comes with built- in features and customization to help you manage your productivity and emails without relying too heavily on integrations or extensions.

Here are some of its great features:

  • Unified inbox feature
  • Moving emails between accounts
  • Calendar integration and sync
  • Speed reader to quickly go through your inbox, etc.
  • Email tracking extension to keep track of your interactions
  • Customizable themes and options
  • Native calendar to help you manage all your events
  • Over 30+ app integrations to choose from

Mailbird is consistently updating it's features to ensure that our users get up to date features and tools to improve their inbox productivity.


Mailbird offers users over 30+ third-party integrations so you can manage both your inbox and your most used apps in one place. Easily choose from our long list of tools such as :

  • All of your calendars
  • Facebook
  • Todo List
  • Trello, Asana
  • Dropbox
  • LinkedIn
  • WhatsApp
  • Evernote
  • Google Docs
  • Tech Crunch, and much more


Mailbird provides helpful and highly-responsive customer support for all it's Mailbird users regardless of your account type. We offer support in 17 different languages and a two-week money back guarantee to test out the product.


Personal - $39/ Year or Pay Once for a lifetime subscription at $99.
Business - $59/Year

Free Trial





  • Unified Inbox
  • Supports IMAP, POP, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
  • Email tracking
  • 35+ Integrations to apps like Teams, Trello, Asana, Slack, Chrome, Google Drive and Google Calendar, Evernote, etc.
  • Personalize the layout and color scheme.
  • Custom notification sounds
  • Preview attachments before downloading
  • Look up Linkedin Contacts
  • Unsend emails
  • Snooze feature
  • Speed-reader to help scan emails
  • Touchscreen support
  • Customer support available in 17 languages

Get Mailbird, the Best Email App for Windows
Get Mailbird Free

Thunderbird is another email client commonly used for email management, developed by Mozilla. It's a free email client and primarily made for Linux, but Windows and Mac users can access this app as well. What makes it different from other email clients is that it prides itself on the users' security and privacy.

Built-in Features

Thunderbird's built-in features allow users to have a better user experience than eM client. You can easily manage multiple accounts, privacy settings and basic functions like email composition options. Thunderbird allows you to manage your emails and email security with features like:

  • Updated address book
  • Intuitive messages filter
  • Share large files in your email instead of attachment
  • Manage multiple inboxes
  • Top notch privacy settings
  • Tabbed email option
  • Multiple app integrations

Thunderbird is an open source tool which adds to why it's a free email client. But this also means that thunderbird tend to crash when overloaded and it's primarily up to the user to resolve the issue on their own. If you struggle with code then Thunderbird might not be for you.


Thunderbird also comes with the option to integrate desktop apps to improve your workflow, but keep in mind that it doesn't allow you to sync your calendar or tasks from your email accounts and there's a lack of drag-and-drop features which save you time.


Thunderbird offers no customer support for its users. Thunderbird provides a platform for experienced users to provide help or tips to resolve issues but most of the resources are outdated or unchecked.




Windows, macOS, and some versions of Linux.


  • Updated address book
  • Intuitive messages filter
  • Share large files in your email instead of attachment
  • Manage multiple inboxes
  • Top notch privacy settings
  • Tabbed email option
  • Multiple app integrations

eM Client allows you to open multiple email accounts at once in the app.

Users tend to go 50/50 when it comes to eM Clients interface as it can seem a bit dated. If you are very tech-savvy you can customize your interface. It takes up a lot of memory as a desktop email client which means it occasionally crashes.

Built-in Features

eM Client has basic built-in features to help users to provide quick replies, snooze incoming emails and change image sizes. This email client relies heavily on customization coding which sounds great if you want to add your own features. But limiting for those who don't have the time or the skills to place the additional features themselves.

On the other hand, eM client has fairly good security and supports (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption for anyone who needs to send encrypted emails and includes features like:

  • Message encryption
  • Snooze incoming emails
  • Watch for replies
  • Message translation
  • Quick text and notes
  • Intuitive user interface (UI)


Not to mention it's very limited list of integrations only range from SmarterMail, iCloud and Microsoft Office 365.

Features include:

  • Message encryption,
  • Snooze incoming emails,
  • Watch for replies,
  • Calendar and tasks, and
  • Quick text features.

Overall, eM Client comes with a user-friendly design and interfaces for anyone who wants to keep it simple; however, there is a lack of customization and software updates.


Unless you have an upgraded account with eM client you won't be able to get VIP support via chat or email. Other users will have to rely on the eM Client knowledge base.


One time payment of $49.99

Free Trial



Windows & Mac


  • Message encryption
  • Snooze incoming emails
  • Watch for replies
  • Message translation
  • Quick text and notes
  • Intuitive user interface (UI)

Windows Mail, not to be confused with Outlook mail, is an email client that works well for Windows users who need an email software that integrates with outlook, Office 365, Exchange, and more.

It's pre-installed on all devices that support Windows so there's no need to download or install software.

Windows has a bad reputation of security breaches, data hacking, limited customization and outdated design with little to no customization allowed.

Built-in Features

Windows Mail has built-in features that support the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem. Features are also updated to suit Windows updates so if you live in Outlook.

Features include:

  • Manage mail in multiple IMAP, Exchange and POP email accounts;
  • Email synchronization and scheduling;
  • Unified inbox to help manage your accounts;
  • Easy-to-use message editor;
  • Simple emails, folders, and operator search


Windows Mail is a good, but it's limited to your inbox as it only integrates Windows apps, has limited keyboard shortcuts, and isn't as accessible to Mac users as Outlook mail.


Windows Mail has an up-to-date knowledge base for its users to troubleshoot problems, however paid Windows users have access to chat or phone support.


  • Microsoft Outlook Premium starts at $19.95 per year
  • Office 365 Home starts at $9.99/month
  • Office 365 Personal starts at $6.99/month


Windows & MAC


  • Manage mail in multiple IMAP, Exchange and POP email accounts;
  • Email synchronization and scheduling;
  • Unified inbox to help manage your accounts;
  • Easy-to-use message editor;
  • Simple emails, folders, and operator search

What is the Best Email Client to Use?

Mailbird is an email client for Windows that's intuitive, easy to use and provides businesses and professionals with one tool to check and manage emails, improve productivity, collaboration, and communication.

Mailbird allows you to not only manage but effortlessly move between email accounts. Keep track of conversations, sync calendars and improve your overall inbox productivity.

Why is Mailbird so Great?

Mailbird is a reliable email management app for Windows or Mac that allows you to quickly manage your inbox and day-to-day activities. But don't just take our word for it, see what our users have to say about us:

Some Great Features

Mailbird allows you to add your own personal touch by allowing you to customize the layout, color and rearrange your inbox so you're working at your best.

Mailbird isn't just an email client, it helps you get work done. With our up-to-date integration features you're no longer stuck in your inbox, you're mastering it throughout the day.

Its features include:

  • Unified Inbox,
  • Unified calendar,
  • Moving emails between accounts,
  • Email tracking,
  • Folders & filters,
  • Advanced search & attachment search,
  • Speed reader & quick reply,
  • Undo send,
  • Snooze & send later, and
  • App integrations (planning apps, messengers).

Let's break down the features you'll be using regularly with Mailbird:

Quick Compose

Compose a new email easily even when the desktop email client is not active. Seriously a great time saver!

Multiple Account Support

Never be bothered again with signing into different email accounts in different tabs on the web — you have all of them in one window. Just add all your email addresses in Mailbird and use them in one space. And you can add different email services, be it Gmail,, or Yahoo Mail.

In-line Reply Feature

We all know how messy and annoying replying in-line can be with formatting and editing. It's frankly a huge waste of time, especially when you have several different points in the sender's email that require a specific response. It's a pain trying to figure out who actually wrote what, then having to reply to that.

In Mailbird's beautiful desktop interface, you can simply put your cursor in your email reply window where you want to respond, hit Enter, and your name is color-coded by your choice so it is clear where the sender's text ends and your reply begins. Simply organized and well-structured - we love that.

Integrated Apps

No time wasted opening new Windows. Easy access to your favorite apps directly inside Mailbird, to help keep your email experience mega productive and customized to meet your workflow needs.

LinkedIn Lookup

Building relationships is an integral part of how we use email today. Email allows us to make great personal connections, as well as develop important business relationships. Now it gets even better yet again when using a native desktop email client, because of this simple yet incredibly useful feature.

Build even stronger relationships that go past email — when you right-click on a sender's name in Mailbird and select "Look up on LinkedIn," you can learn more about your professional contact to help facilitate a more tailored and engaging communication flow with them.


We covered a lot in this article but hopefully you have a better understanding of the features, tech and benefits when it comes to learning 'what is an email client". To help here's a quick recap of what we covered:

  • The pros and cons of using an email or webmail and how understanding the benefits of each can help you to decide what's best for you.
  • How desktop email clients can proactively help you to manage your emails, access emails online, and offer more seamless integrations to better your inbox productivity.
  • When looking for a good email client software, you should look out for: customization, email management/productivity features, affordability, paid subscription, and app integrations.
  • The top-rated email clients are Mailbird, eM Client, Thunderbird, and Window Mail based on built-in features, integrations, and support.

With new and updated email clients emerging, you have a wide range of options to choose from. Selecting the right once can help make your life easier or add more hurdles to your workload. With the right information at your fingertips, you can select an email client that works best for you.

Get the Best Email Client for Windows on Your Desktop Now
Get Mailbird Free