Alternative Email Programs to Microsoft Outlook
Microsoft Outlook is by no means a ‘bad’ email client; it is in fact a very competent program. It is one of the biggest and most well-known email programs currently on the market serving customers from both individual home users to large multi-national companies. However, many of these users simply choose Microsoft Outlook because of this reason and may not realise there are a wealth of free alternatives which can do an equally and sometimes more efficient job of handling your daily mail needs. In this particular article we will be looking at open source (generally free) email clients and not proprietary (paid-for) email clients.
What does open source mean?
The term ‘open source’ means that the source code of the program is made available for any member of the public so that new features can be added at any time and existing features can be improved upon. This means that rather than having a limited number of staff to support the development of Microsoft Outlook for example, Thunderbird has the potential to have a much larger base of developers supporting the program. So what? You might ask. With such a large number of developers on call at any time of the day any bugs discovered are usually dealt with much quicker than a proprietary program such as Outlook. An analogy that could be used would be to imagine reading an essay to check for grammar and punctuation errors, a collection of 100 individuals are arguably going to find any mistakes quicker than a team of ten people. Both teams may of course do an equally good job in the end but it is likely that the 100 individuals will finish first. This is of course true for all open source email clients although Thunderbird is one of, perhaps the, most well-known open source email client. The benefits of using an open source email program extends further than just being safe in the knowledge bugs will be fixed quickly and new features constantly added. Providing you are fairly comfortable with computers then you can configure the email client to include all the features of Outlook as well as a few extra ones to boot.
At Wunderism, our preferred email program of choice is Thunderbird. This email program is a free program created by Mozilla (of Firefox fame) and as such is an open source program. Thunderbird employs a fairly clean interface and without any add ons will send and receive emails no problem at all. However it is when you start playing around with Thunderbird that it really comes into its own. If you know what you want then Thunderbird can easily match Outlook in terms of functionality while staying completely free. The dedicated community behind the development of Thunderbird have continued to provide new content and improvements to the add ons even after Mozilla stopped official supporting the program in 2012. For example, the Thunderbird online store currently has close to 1,200 free add ons for the Thunderbird program ranging from appearance customisations to tagging and language translations. On top of this Thunderbird is widely regarded as having quicker uploading/downloading speeds than Outlook, so if you regularly deal with large files or hi-res images then Thunderbird may well be worth a look at.
Download Thunderbird at: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/?
It is fair to say that Zimbra is an email client that is geared toward a specific user base. While the core functionality of email is present there is a noticeable push to connect your social media channels to the program. This may prove to be a useful addition for freelance workers or small businesses where social media is a vital aspect of their advertising strategy. Zimbra allows the user to be logged into websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn amongst others all simultaneously rather than having to open them all in separate tabs in your internet browser of choice. Another advantage that Zimbra has over Outlook is that it was built specifically with mobile usage in mind. The interface is very clean although this does come at the expense of some features which more advanced users may find disappointing. A common complaint is that Zimbra is also resource intensive so if you have an old computer you may experience some problems running the program at times.
Download Zimbra at: http://www.zimbra.com/products/zimbra-collaboration/email.html
If you are willing to sacrifice some functionality for pure speed then iScribe may well be an email client that peaks your interest. Unlike some of the other programs mentioned in this article, iScribe is regularly updated with the most recent update being released on the 04/07/2014. The total size of iScribe is little over 1mb and can be run from a USB as well. Despite the small file size, iScribe comes with POP3 and IMAP support, spam filtering and a calendar module. Importing contacts from other email clients is fairly straightforward and should not cause any great problems. Unfortunately, spell check does not come as standard and needs to be downloaded as an added feature.
Unfortunately you only get one email account if you choose the free version. You can upgrade to the paid-for version of iScribe (called Inscribe) for $10 in order to get unlimited email accounts. The interface itself is also not very appealing; you could be excused for thinking the program was being run in Windows 98 for all intents and purposes.
Download iScribe at: http://www.memecode.com/scribe.php
This email program should only be used by users who know their way around an email client. This is because Pegasus comes equipped with many advanced features that come as standard which may otherwise be absent from other email clients or require the installation of an add on. Pegasus has been labelled as one of the best and most powerful email programs exclusive to Windows. Unfortunately, a common complaint that follows this statement is that the user interface is not very intuitive and common functions can be hard to find. For this reason you should probably avoid this program if you are intending on being a casual user. If however, you are comfortable messing around with email clients and don’t like Thunderbird then this Pegasus may well be what you are looking for. Some of the features involved in this client include the ability to flexibly create drastically different mail templates, its own encryption engine and a spam filter.
Download Pegasus at: http://www.pmail.com/