An email client is a program you install on your computer that is dedicated to managing email. With an email client, your emails are stored on your computer, so they can be viewed even when your computer is not connected to the internet. In the days of dial-up Internet access, having your email available while you were not online made email clients clear winners over webmail. After DSL and Cable Internet gained dominance, however, many considered the email client to be redundant, and stuck to just using their webmail service. After all, if your Internet connection is "always on," you always have access to email.
The great benefit to using an email client today is the ease of constant access from your laptop (which usually is not online 24/7, unless you have a cellular Internet stick) and the ability to more easily manage multiple email accounts. Since most people have multiple email addresses – one for work, one for personal, perhaps one or more shared accounts for non-profit organizations and other social groups – having an email client makes sense. Imagine a program that lets you access and search through all of your email addresses at once: that’s an email client.
The most familiar email client today is Microsoft Outlook. Many workplaces still use Outlook for mail as it comes packaged with Microsoft Office. Additionally, there is also a free "Express" version that has been rebranded Windows Mail.
Recommended: Mozilla Thunderbird
At CartaNova, we recommend Thunderbird, which is Mozilla's free email companion to the search engine Firefox. Having recently made a major release, Thunderbird is a fully capable and versatile email client. Much like Firefox, it also has a variety of Add-Ons available, such as applications that allow using shared-calendars and organizing task management. Thunderbird also features (as of version 3.0) a "Smart Folder" capability, where you can see one inbox for all of your email accounts – each email accounts still remains separate, but you can view them all in one space, which saves a lot of time if you have multiple accounts.
What's also great about the latest version of Thunderbird, is the ease email account setup. In most cases, all the information you need to know is your email address and password. Thunderbird is able to guess your email server settings quite accurately by testing out various common email server name patterns and port settings, so you don't need to worry about figuring out potentially confusing server names and entering long strings of information.
Using an email client, like Thunderbird, saves you time and keeps your email organized.