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Desktop email programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Here's an overview of the major desktop email programs (also called "mail clients" or MUA) we cover in Free Email Tutorials. Applications called "desktop" clients (think of your "computer desktop") are those you had to download and/or install on your computer, though some of them may have come pre-installed, either bundled by the computer manufacturer (like Windows Live Mail on PC's), or part of the operating system (like Apple Mail for Mac OS X, Outlook Express for Windows XP, Windows Mail for Windows Vista, or Windows 8 Mail for Windows 8 - Linux systems always come with third-party email software, typically Evolution or Mozilla Thunderbird.)

Operating system icons on the right of each email program show which operating system is supported for each; a dollar sign means that the program is shareware (no dollar sign means that the program is freeware, or bundled with the corresponding operating system).

Mac Mail ("Apple Mail") Mac

Apple Mail / Mac Mail Apple's Mac operating system started by bundling Outlook Express for the Mac with their operating system: since Mac OS X, Apple ships its own Mail.app bundled with the operating system. In its current release (Mac OS X Snow Leopard just around the corner), Mac Mail is nearly on par with Microsoft's Office Outlook email client. Our currently only Apple Mail tutorial covers Mac Mail Panther: waiting for our next tutorial covering the latest incarnation of Apple's Mail application, you will find explanations, tips and tricks still applicable to the current version of Mail.

Quick Links: Mac Mail TutorialAdd email account in Mac Mail
Mac Mail SignatureChange Mac Mail password

Opera Mail Linux Mac Windows

Opera Mail (M2) The Opera Mail integrated email client (formerly known as "M2") is offered as part of the free Opera internet suite, which among other things includes an RSS news reader, a full-featured web browser, and the mail client. The upcoming version of Opera Mail, to be distributed as part of Opera version 10, will introduce the ability to compose rich text emails; previous versions of Opera Mail only offered the ability to receive and read fully formatted emails, but limited composed emails to plain text. While Opera M2 may not be as fully featured as some other email clients, it offers unparalleled advantages when used as part of the full internet suite (using Opera to surf the web, read RSS feeds, etc.) - in fact, using M2 for emails is a no-brainer if you use Opera to surf the web.

Quick Links: Opera Mail TutorialAdd email account in Opera Mail
Opera Mail SignatureChange Opera Mail password

Microsoft Outlook Shareware Mac Windows

Microsoft Outlook Microsoft Outlook is the best selling email client for businesses; most of the private sector is using Outlook 2003 or Outlook 2007 for the tight integration Outlook offers with Microsoft's Exchange email server software, and the task management and calendaring functionality that comes bundled with Outlook. As far as email programs go, there is very little that cannot be done in Outlook, especially now that Outlook 2007 has introduced the much needed ability to read RSS feeds alongside your emails, from the same application. Our extensive Outlook 2003 tutorial gives you everything to proficiently use Outlook at your office, and our Outlook 2007 tutorial starts from scratch with that newer version.

Quick Links: Outlook 2007 TutorialAdd email account in Outlook 2007
Outlook 2007 SignatureChange Outlook 2007 password
Quick Links: Outlook 2003 TutorialAdd email account in Outlook 2003
Outlook 2003 SignatureChange Outlook 2003 password

Side info: Microsoft Office for Mac used to include an email program called "Entourage". Microsoft has now rebranded it "Outlook" - you can now tell apart the Mac from the Windows version with their year: Outlook 2010 (Windows) vs. Outlook 2011 (Mac).

Outlook Express Windows

Outlook Express One of the most popular email programs in the world, Outlook Express is Microsoft's equivalent to Mac Mail: from Windows 98 to Windows XP, each version of Windows shipped bundled with Outlook Express (which was also available as a download for Windows 95 users). Outlook Express has truly brought email to the world's desktop: still used by millions, Outlook Express has now been replaced by Windows Mail in Windows Vista, and by Windows Live Mail for Windows XP or Windows Vista users. Aside from junk mail filtering, the functionality Outlook Express offers is about the same as Windows Mail.

Quick Links: Outlook Express TutorialAdd email account in Outlook Express
Outlook Express SignatureChange Outlook Express password

Mozilla SeaMonkey Mail Linux Mac Windows

Mozilla SeaMonkey Mail Mozilla Mail (now called SeaMonkey Mail) is an integrated email application bundled as part of the Mozilla (SeaMonkey) "Internet Suite" of software, which includes a web browser and a basic web page editor. The initially promising development of SeaMonkey Mail has unfortunately slowed down to a near halt, and only very limited updates (most notably, security updates) have been released for the past 3-4 years. Nonetheless, SeaMonkey Mail remains a very user friendly email program, which --like the Opera internet suite, see below-- offers the advantage of an fully integrated suite of software. Mozilla Thunderbird is a much more feature-rich version by the same organization.

Quick Links: SeaMonkey Mail TutorialAdd email account in SeaMonkey Mail
SeaMonkey Mail SignatureChange SeaMonkey Mail password

Mozilla Thunderbird Linux Mac Windows

Mozilla Thunderbird Mozilla Thunderbird is the most widely used open-source email application for the desktop, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. While the Mozilla Foundation has not put the same efforts behind Thunderbird as it did behind the more profitable Firefox, it remains a very solid email program which will address the needs of most people.

Quick Links: Thunderbird TutorialAdd email account in Thunderbird
Thunderbird SignatureChange Thunderbird password

The Bat! Shareware Windows

The Bat! Unlike most email programs, The Bat! is an email program unapologetically designed for "power users"; while most everyone would be able to use it as a basic mail client, The Bat! shines when you need access to advanced features - typically useful for system administrators and internet network technicians. One major drawback of The Bat! is that (with the last version we purchased) is uses its own keyboard shortcuts, which cannot be customized. So, switching back and forth between The Bat! and other email programs can be quite a challenge, since regular keystrokes that have become second nature have a completely different command mapped to them. The Bat! comes as shareware, with a basic academic edition (cheaper price), and a full-fledged, "professional" version. Learn more about The Bat.

Windows Live Mail Windows

Windows Live Mail Windows Live Mail, which used to be known for a while as "Windows Live Desktop Mail", is the email program created by Microsoft's Windows Live team: they created software like Writer (a blog editor) and Live Calendar, which can be downloaded and used for free on Windows XP and Windows Vista. Windows Live Mail takes the best of Outlook Express and Windows Mail, and combines it into a surprisingly powerful and flexible email program that gets close to rivaling Microsoft Office Outlook in terms of functionality. The latest version of Windows Live Mail includes not only the ability to read email messages and RSS news feeds, but even comes with its own calendar, which is synchronized through your Live.com account (or Hotmail account profile). Since Windows 7 ships without a bundled email program like Outlook Express or Windows Mail, it is the best choice of program to download (for free) on Microsoft's latest operating system.

Quick Links: Windows Live Mail TutorialAdd email account in Windows Live Mail
Windows Live Mail SignatureChange Windows Live Mail password

Windows Mail (for Windows Vista) Windows

Windows Mail Windows Mail is the new email program that replaces Outlook Express, and ships bundled with Windows Vista but not Windows 7 (Windows Seven is the current version of Windows). Windows Mail offers you a very similar experience to Outlook Express: in fact, if you have used Outlook Express, in the past, you will feel right at home with Windows Mail. Many of the changes (such as email storage) have been made behind the scenes.

Quick Links: Windows Mail TutorialAdd email account in Windows Mail
Windows Mail SignatureChange Windows Mail password

WordPerfect Mail Shareware Windows

Corel WordPerfect Mail Now purchased by Yahoo!, Corel used to be a strong competitor in the office productivity suite market, alongside Microsoft. Late in the game, Corel added an email program, separate product from their productivity suite, called "WordPerfect Mail" (named after their very well known word processor, "WordPerfect"). While a lesser known email clients, WordPerfect Mail offers everything you might expect, and more - including POP and IMAP email accounts support, a calendar, plain text or rich format editing, and even an integrated RSS reader. Learn more about WordPerfect Mail.

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Tutorial last updated on June 28, 2012
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