back to article Whatever happened to the email app?

Is the email program dead? Did the whole world just migrate away from Hotmail over to Facebook when we weren't looking? Does anyone else care? Weirdly, the answer seems to be yes, yes, and no. Email has never gone away, and its advantages are unique: but the email client seems to be going the way of the Gopher. Which is a bit …


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  1. Anonymous Cowherder

    Thunderbird with lightning and google provider

    I could not live without my mail client. I have Thunderbird with lightning sync'd with my google calendar setup on my work pc, my laptop and my home pcs. I access my work and my personal mail accounts via imap and I may shortly migrate to the dark side and get an iphone which will be set up with imap on there too.

    I have my filters on a pc that is constantly on and my mail is handled just how I like it. You will get my client when you prise it from my cold dead hands.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few others

    Personally, I point my Windows friends to Poco-mail. Take a look at it.

    On Linux, I use Kmail as it can forward e-mails on the rule base (great for forwarding important suff to my hip) and is reasonably nippy on its feet, especially when handling multiple accounts, identities and mail boxes - I love it over Evolution.

    1. mfraz


      I agree, much prefer KMail over Evolution where most of the functions I'm used to in KMail are either hard to find or missing completely.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Does Andrew actually work in IT?

      Facebook users are much older, Warren - the largest age group is 35 to 54.

      You really should get out more.

      1. SuperTim

        That ISNT what he was saying.

        He was saying that the teenies use it INSTEAD of email. I agree that the mid-life-crisis bunch use it more to pretend they actually liked all those people they went to school with, and maybe send the odd message. Nobody with any sense uses facebook as a secure message system.

        Besides, the most common form of communication is the CB isn't it? Breaker Breaker , gotta go 10-100 now, Good buddy.

      2. Will Leamon
        Thumb Up

        Amicus Brief

        In fact it's the only way to get in touch with my 40 year old sister.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        What makes me larf about the old fogeys

        What makes me larf about the old fogeys is that they use their real names on Facebook. OMG ROTFL.

        1. Mike Flugennock

          I finally gave in...

          ...and got a Facebook account, just to shut my wife up so that she and her circle of friends -- real, actual friends, not Facebook "friends" -- could get in touch with me. Needless to say, I pretty much locked down every possible Profile preference to "only me" and entered entirely bogus birthday and gender info along with an entirely fake name. I suggested to her that it'd be way easier to just email fotos, video links, and other items of interest by using cc: in a standard email app, but she just wouldn't hear of it. Besides, she does all her email through a Yahoo! account, which kind of tells you a lot, right there.

        2. RISC OS

          Yeah but...

          unlike you the old foogeys actually know REAL people who might try and contact them.

      4. SynnerCal
        IT Angle

        Yes, Andrew does work in IT

        I'd agree with that assessment of Farcebook users age-range. From what little I can see, the local teenies (my kids and their friends) prefer texting, then IM, then email as a backup. Farcebook is seen as something for the pre-OAP's to use, as is - to a lesser extent - Twitter.

        "Most of the rest of the world - normal people - only ever used a webmail service as a primary email account."

        That's an interesting point - albeit a wrong one (again in my experience). Teenies seem to use the webmail accounts - presumably because they're used to everything being delivered Web2.0 stylee via a browser. Older folks prefer to use a proper email client - be it Outlook, Thunderbird, or any of the others names in the article. That's assuming they can of course.

        Look at it sensibly - a web client is fine, but doesn't make all those little niceties - like message filters, local archive, multiple email accounts etc - particularly easy. So if you want/need those then you end up using a mail client by choice. On the other hand if you just want to dash off a quick note, or read one, then webmail is fine.

        And then of course, there's the systems like the now departed lycos one - where the webmail system is so slow, buggy, and/or downright unpleasant to use, that an email client-based delivery is the one way to use the service without going mad.

        Not a bad article at all - although I think I'll stick with Thunderbird for the time being - using multiple Linux/Windows boxes means that I need something cross-platform, which Outlook definitely isn't.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A title is required.. blah blah blah

          I'm probably in the "older folks" category, but I've always used Webmail as my primary personal account.

          The reasons for this are:

          Firstly, I change my ISP fairly regularly and can't be bothered having a new email address each time. Secondly, by not having Outlook and Outlook express (or any other email thick client) installed I avoided what was formerly a very active malware attack vector. Lastly, I'm anti-social, so I don't exactly do much personal email (even though I've still got emails from over 7 years ago, my mailbox still uses less than 100Mb).

    2. buxtonmarauder


      POP3 is the spawn of the devil and should always be avoided IMHO

    3. Stoneshop

      Change their mind?

      If they had one to begin with, they wouldn't be using "all your privacy are belong to us" Facebook in the first place.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    GUI mailers are for sissies

    I use a GUI mailer for work email because in this context I have to be sufficiently comptible with how work colleagues and students see things. But GUI mailers are only suited to 20 messages a day. I handle twice as much email as that on my home account and it takes me no longer to open/read/respond to double the number of messages using Mutt which is driven entirely by the keyboard and not at all using a mouse. The rodent inefficiency is having to move a hand from the touch typing home keys to a mouse and back again, causing elbow, wrist and shoulder strain in the delay. Mutt can handle any attachment by launching a seperate application for the content type, though I bin unread some HTML only messages or request resend, because I can't always be bothered to read HTML only email if it takes 2 more keystrokes and another 5 seconds to launch a browser for it.

    1. Bumpy Cat

      40 messages a day!? How do you manage?

      But yes, Mutt rules.

      1. Neil Hunt
        Thumb Up

        Ahh mutt!

        Until I started in a new company which enforces Notes, I used Mutt exclusivly. Now it's only at home. I love it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      mutt is the dog's bollocks.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: mutt

        Indeed, and mutt would be my choice of email client if I had to run one in a terminal. comparisons between pine, elm, mutt were beyond the scope of the article.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge


      I use mutt, I also use heirloom-mailx 99% of the time!

    4. zanto

      fix your mailcap

      ever here of elinks or lynx?

      i seriously doubt it takes more than a fraction of a second to read html email in mutt.

  5. J 12


    Do most people really use webmail as their main 'client' ? Nobody I know does.

    As above, I use Thunderbird on Mac and Windows to connect to my googlemail IMAP+Calender.

    1. Mike Cardwell

      Re: Really?

      "Do most people really use webmail as their main 'client' ? Nobody I know does."

      That says more about the type of people you know. All of my techie friends use proper clients. All of my non techie friends and family use webmail clients (ie, hotmail, yahoo, gmail webmail)

      I use Thunderbird. I'm not against the idea of using a web based email client in principal. I may consider it when one comes along which works offline, is as featureful as Thunderbird, and can work with an open standard backend, eg IMAP.

      The webmail offerings from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are useless because they only work with *their* email services. I can't take GMails webmail offering and point it at my own IMAP server. I *can* take Thunderbird and point it at any IMAP/POP server in the World.

      1. JCL


        There's always which will work with your mail accounts. I use it when I'm on holiday and want to keep in touch with the folks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Got a gmail account that all my personal addresses forward to and our company uses gmail as our primary email server so I use the webmail for that as well. Tried using various clients but they didn't do anything I couldn't do faster in a browser window*

      *offline access isn't a problem - I'm rarely offline, and when I am I treat it as the ideal opportunity to read the paper or have a life instead

  6. Ben Boyle

    No mention of the dark side?

    A piece on mail clients and not one mention of Outlook? OK, it's a Microsoft product and you have to buy *cough* Office to get it but it's not just for exchange. I've been (relatively) happily running my email with it for YEARS and so long as you keep your pst files down to sensible sizes (I archive year on year) it's perfectly good - and has calendaring, tasks, etc. built in.

    It's not everyone's cup of tea but for it to be left off the list is, frankly, inexcusable.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: No mention of the dark side?

      It's about dedicated POP3 and IMAP mailers, that's why. Not groupware.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Dapprman

        @ Andrew - And ..... ?

        Outside of the work environment I'll wager the vast majority of MS Outlook installs are used for dedicated IMAP/POP3 clients, so Ben's views are totally valid

      3. Ben Boyle

        Title goes here

        Which is fine, but most people running office on their home PC aren't necessarily using it for group collaboration, are they?

      4. JohnG


        Outlook should not be excluded - it is available as a standalone product, as well as part of MSOffice, although an expensive choice. Many people use it because it is often the only option available for Windows users that allows synchronisation between various mobile phones or similar gadgets. Occasionally, Outlook may even be bundled with such a gadget, as was the case with an old HP PDA I used to use.

        1. Rob

          HTC Phones

          All of the HTC phones I have bought so far come with a copy of outlook on CD. I have it installed on my home PC for just that, to sync up my contacts and calendar. For a quick view of my mail I tend to use Live Mail as I find it easier to sort through stuff and a damn sight easier to manage my Google Mail account with.

      5. Oninoshiko


        Ahh but for many of us, with our work accounts, that stuff that flies about on port 25 ends up in a groupware client, be it Notes or Outlook. Email is still heavily used in busness, and that's the reality of how it is used. I suppose we can ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room if you like, be someone still has to shovel gorilla-poo.

      6. OffBeatMammal

        Outlook isn't just a groupwise client

        I know a lot of people who use Outlook as their mailer of choice. Sure it also integrates contact management and a calendar and can talk to Exchange but it also does POP3 and IMAP really well (and has a Hotmail connector)

        You also fail to mention Entourage on the Mac which is pretty awesome (and also supports Exchange, just like

        Linux users have Evolution (which has an Exchange plug-in as well as the usual suspects)

        I guess though given your "Vista 2010" jab, general Windows digs and belittling of the Windows Live Mail which despite a cumbersome name is actually a pretty good email client I guess this was actually just some material to wrap around pointless Microsoft bashing.

        If you're going to be sarcastic at least make sure you disguise it with some good basic research

    2. Dapprman
      Thumb Up

      Lynch Mob

      They'll be after you with pitch forks and fire brands !!!

      However, I totally agree. I grew up mail wise on elm and pine, so when I found myself in a work environment I at first hated a GUI based client. However over time ease of use came in to it and I too use Outlook and have done for many a moon with out a problem. Ok I must admit I do not like Outlook Express and 10 years back I preferred Netscape mail client to the MS offerings, but times change.

      As to the AC who reckoned that more than 10 emails a day makes a GUI impractical. Not so, junk filtering, mass selection/deletions when the items are not consecutive, selective choosing of what to read next without leaving the preview window ....

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Epic fail

      Anyone using Outlook for simple internet email deserves to suffer.

      Like you say, it works as long as you don't really use it for email.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        They are suffering

        Most of my friends who use Outlook Express that comes with their computers, typically ARE suffering. Last year I had a bunch of friends within a few months of each other, for whom OE decided to start a new profile of its own accord.

        Their ISP's give them all the information they need to set up Outlook Express, but when it goes tits up, the ISPs don't give support. Unfortunately, most of these friends haven't got the know how to track down errant pst files and recover the mails when OE throws a wobbler. I just have to say that in my personal experience, OE is the most unreliable mail client I've ever used.

        Those friends that I have talked around to Poco-mail ... I never hear about any e-mail problems from them again.

        As for demographics of who uses what; I wouldn't like to call any shots really. Of the people I know across ll age ranges, I wouldn't actually be able to look at any of them and determine what they would prefer using. Many of them use more than one solution ... as do I.

        I just don't use facebook, myspace, orkut or any of those any more; for my friends I prefer to pick up the 'phone, go round for dinner, invite them over But maybe, for a tech head with eight blogs, four web sites, a twitter stream and several e-mail accounts ... I guess I'm just old fashioned.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Outlook is unfortunately the pick of the crop. Mind you being a freetard Evolution for windows is something id give a go...

      I've moved away from thunderbird, and lightning. Evolution is a better (if dog ugly). Try running thunderbird across X, you can only have one instance.... YUK!

  7. mattm591

    Hang on!

    There seems to have been absolutely no mention on the wonderful IncrediMail in this article.

    Surely one of the most useful and best loved e-mail clients of all time should have had at least a mention!

    For those not familiar with IncrediMail, it is perhaps the most incredible piece of software ever made with ridiculously useful features like animations after sending mail, and a butler who sits on your desktop eating resources!!

    1. FFred

      Incredimail ??

      I wasn't really sure what that was so I looked it up. Apparently it's Hello Kitty Email meets MySpace cuteness (puppies !!!) and it only runs on Windows.

      It's obviously an essential piece of kit. I instantly installed it in my virtualized XP.

      Then I reduced the memory size and I watched it suffer. It was great !

    2. Stoneshop

      The worst thing about Incredimail

      is that the butler doesn't eat all the system resources *before* any, ahem, "mail" is sent, thus keeping the festering piece of excrement it spews confined to the peecee of the retard that wants to use this product of a syphilitic twat.

  8. Nick Thompson


    "... - suffered from nanny Microsoft sizing them up for a premature kill. But I digress.".

    These applications are performing long running process on the thread which should be used for handing Windows messages, a big no no. This isn't Windows fault, it is the fault of the people writing the application for not doing the work in a background thread.

    Long story short, if your application stops talking to Windows, Windows will want to kill it.

    1. max allan

      Typical windows centric view of the universe

      "if your application stops talking to Windows, Windows will want to kill it."

      How about "if your application stops talking to the user, the user can decide to kill it." ?

      I don't care if my app is talking to Windows as long as it's still talking to me. If there is some sort of progress indicator, I'll leave it to complete.

      I'm still on XP, but I often see apps that Windows says aren't responding, that are still usable and some that windows is happy with, that aren't responding to me.

      So whichever thread gets busy doesn't really matter to the end user. Just make the damn thing work and windows sod off and leave me to make my decisions "It looks like your program is trying to write a letter, do you want me to help with that?" (Remember the f$"£ing paperclip)

      1. Argh

        But if it's not handling windows messages...

        If it's not handling windows messages (e.g. to refresh the graphics in the window), in general it's also stopped the user interface responding. That's the issue, although there may be exceptions as you point out.

        It's a guideline that the developers aren't following.

        You know that Linux has a process killer for badly behaving processes too, right, e.g. the OOM killer? That one doesn't even ask if you want to shut it down.

        Same deal -- if the application behaves nicely with the OS, the OS won't consider killing it.

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          OOM killer

          The OOM killer is only invoked if the system runs out of RAM and swap, it is not something that kills a process because it is busy doing something and not talking to the GUI subsystems.

          Your comment is completely wrong.

    2. Rajiv Dhir

      Windows 7

      "Long story short, if your application stops talking to Windows, Windows will want to kill it."

      I expect the same will apply to users soon too.

      1. Stoneshop

        Killing users

        Now that would be an enhancement to W7 that I'd pay good money to see implemented.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Gah I still use Pine and have no problems at all!

    1. Ned Leprosy Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Pine

      Still using Pine here, too; well, Alpine at any rate. I still have my yearly ritual of trying to move into the 21st century of graphical excitingness, but invariably give up after a few weeks as they're all more fiddly to use in one way or another. Or several ways, usually.

  10. Richard 51
    Dead Vulture

    I wish!

    I use Outlook, not because I am a fan, just that its convenient. I want my phone / contacts / calendar to be sync'd with my laptop. My iphone can only do this with outlook on Windows. I guess I could move to hotmail / googlemail but why should I give these more opportunities to shove adverts down my throat.

    So please someone develop a bulletproof way of syncing all my devices (work laptop, home laptop, iphone and blackberry). It would be nice to also have all my contacts / calendar in one place too. So I know tomorrow I have a business meeting at 5 and meeting the boys for a beer at 8. Without having to stick it in multiple devices.

    Its not the email app its the integration of communications !

  11. Weeble
    Thumb Up

    Virtual Access

    Still out there, still works, still being developed (courtesy of the "Virtual Access Foundation"), still safe from embedded nasties. It's even free.

    Yes, I know the rest of you have never heard of it, but you have now.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mac and Eudora

    I've used Eudora since 1993 and now wait with dread for the inevitable day an OSX update finally kills it. Apple mail looks pretty and works well enough, but has plenty of limitations and the idea of chucking all my mail into one large file makes me shudder. Entourage? Why did they waste th electricity? Eudora's ageing junk filter still does better than most webmail or the spam filtering on my shared hosting, and the lack of an enforced 3 pane interface lets me have lots of messy windows open. Even in 10.58 it rarely gives me any crap.

    If I have a software fantasy it would be someone getting the code off Qualcomm and raising Eudora from the dead. I'd happily pay again and twice as much as I did last time.

    1. Ed


      I'm pretty sure Mail stores it's emails as a large folder full of .eml(?) files... That's what I remember anyway.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People use Facebook instead of email?

    I almost feel sorry for them.

    But when their account gets pwned and their personal correspondence leaks out all over the web like brown liquid from a split bin bag - I'll just laugh.

  14. John Wolff

    Eudora is dead, long live Eudora

    Still using Eudora (now 7.1), ever since I migrated away from MailBook in the very late 1990's.

    I see no reason to change.

    1. Robert Ramsay

      Eudorrrrra, for sure-a

      I can also report that Eudora still works perfectly happily under Windows 7, and keeps all it's data in the Mail folder, so moving over to my new machine meant copying the folder over and pointing to it during the install. So that's another few years of life guaranteed.

      I also use Word 97 :D

      1. 100113.1537
        Thumb Up

        Eudora - going strong on Windows 7

        Eudora is still the most reliable piece of software I have, even since the migration to Windows 7 in December. I love the way it will work wherever I put it and I can tell it how and where to file mail and attachments.

        Yes, I am a bit of a dinosaur (I still have a Palm for contacts and calender), but why change when something works?

        The big problem with POP mail is not POP, but SMTP. Many ISPs use different ports and finding the SMTP server for a new ISP can be a hassle when travelling. That is the only thing I miss from my corporate days on Notes.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    I have used thunderbird for ages (almost since the first release) and found it to work very well on all platforms - BSD, Windows, Mac, etc.

    I remember taking one look at the built-in mail client when I first got my Mac, but (as I find so often with Mac-specific software), it was just a bit too irritating to use, and didn't do the clever stuff I needed at all. So, I have stuck with Thunderbird ever since (the version I am running is probably way out of date, but it works, so why fix it?)

    One email client that I used to use and found to be very light and easy to use was K-mail from the K desktop. but I've not used this in years now.

  16. Mobius
    Thumb Up

    (al)pine is dead, long live claws-mail!

    is fine, but doesn't do multipart MIME (hacky workarounds aside), so I switched to claws-mail. Really, it's an excellent mail client, lightweight and extensible. Top drawer.

  17. Alastair Dodd 1

    and MobileMe is free?

    No you have to pay for MobileMe which the author seems to have forgotten. It's amazing the percieved value of a Mac compared to it's actual cost and how expensive it really is.

    Good to promote the excellent Thunderbird tbh thou.

  18. Bad Beaver

    I'd pay for a new Eudora

    Not that it stopped working, it works fine actually, but it could need a major overhaul in terms of OS X feature implementation – one that ends you up with a frontend that actually LOOKS like Eudora, not some slightly modified Thunderbird.

    Oh, and I know a number of hotmailing academics who have zero clue that something like mail-clients actually exists. It's sad because it's true.

  19. Gordon Henderson

    Pine (Is Not Elm)

    Since the early 90's. Yup 15+ years for me. Once day I'll find something else, but until then...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's a little unfair

    to completely dismiss windows mail, just because the latest version of windows doesn't have it bundled anymore (after all the fuss over IE is it that big a surprise, however annoying)

    You now have to go to all the trouble of running windows live essentials and checking the 'mail' box to have it installed for you.

  21. Amenhotep

    Forte Agent

    The author missed Forte Agent on the Windows side. It's billed as a Usenet client, but it's also the best email client I've ever used.

  22. JimC
    Thumb Up

    Good old Pegasus here:-)


  23. Neil 6


    Why is Thunderbird dismissed in this article as an option for Windows users?

    Those lucky Apple users with their "really, really good" software.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Thunderbird

      The article says Thunderbird is really quite good.

      Paranoia strikes again Neil.

      1. Stuart Halliday

        Thunderbird is really awful at IMAP

        If like me you've switched to IMAP and given POP the old heave out the front door, then you'll find that Thunderbird has dozens of awful bugs because the developers just don't test the app on IMAP.

        One major feature which is missing is threaded conversations.

        Sure you can see threads on usenet but try to reply to an email and you'll find that Thunderbird puts your email in a separate folder to the one you just got.

        The result is a very broken trail which makes it hard for you to follow the track of a conversation if it was a few months ago.

        Thunderbird needs to wake up and provide more professional features.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    I have to use Thunderbird at work and, although it does manage fairly well with basic stuff, it's quite horrible when it comes to editing (the weird "rich text but it isn't... or is it?" distractions and its special way of having irritating quoted regions that won't be easily removed), feed-reading (lots of feeds seem to have most of their articles appear as blank messages with no titles), stupid inconsistencies (links in messages open the browser, links in the header need to be copied), and tendency to think you want to open HTML mail and see all the images by default (possibly improved recently, but I wouldn't guarantee it).

    At home I use Kontact (KMail and friends) and since it hasn't been ruined by Red Hat, it just works. Maybe lots of Linux people just use the Thunderturd - GNOME users who reach for their pitchforks when the K word is uttered - but that doesn't mean that the superior alternatives aren't widely used.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem

    The problem with email is NOT the client. It is the default-trust-everyone behaviour of email itself.

    It worked for awhile, until spam killed it. Just like how the letterslot worked, until local takeaways killed it.

    Thats why I have a 'spam everything unless its in my contacts' filter on my email, and a bear trap on my letterslot :)

  26. Nigel Whitfield.


    For years, I was a great fan of Mush, which had plenty of neat tricks like searching and piping the results into other commands, back in the 80s/90s. Never could get on with new fangled programs like ELM.

  27. James Le Cuirot
    Thumb Up

    Claws Mail FTW

    I also think this one well deserves a mention.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Claws Mail FTW

      It was mentioned already on the previous page of comments, but I'll add my vote here. I spent quite a while looking for a Linux client that I liked as much as The Bat! and Gravity, I found it in Claws. There's a Windows port in gpg4win too.

  28. davebarnes

    MailForge holds some promise

    Infinity Data Systems is developing MailForge as a direct (Windows and Mac OS) Eudora replacement. It is not there yet, but it does hold some promise.

    I am willing to pay (in fact, have paid) for an email client. I hope Infinity succeeds.

  29. Sureo

    Pain migrating to windows live essentials mail

    In Outlook Express on XP, export your address book, which is neatly arranged into 6 categories. In Windows 7 windows live essentials mail, import your address book. There, you have one huge flat list. Install Thunderbird and kiss windows live essentials mail goodbye.

  30. Mark Fenton

    Exchange client

    What I want is an alternative to outlook to act as a proper client to Exchange...I would buy that in a shot!

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Exchange client


      1. J 33
        Thumb Down

        ... client, not server

        "What I want is an alternative to outlook" -- and you're offering Zimbra? Do you know what Zimbra's client is? Right, it does not have a native client, but they offer a possibility to use Outlook as a client with the Zimbra _server_...

      2. Mark Fenton

        re re Zimbra

        Zimbra would replace exchange....not act as a client for it.

        I want an outlook replacement - which Zimbra isn't - unless I am missing something.

    2. Michael C

      I'll get flamced for this, but

      OS X Mail is a pretty good exchange client... Thats about your only choice atm.

  31. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Still driving my Thunderbird

    Y'know, after the past eight or ten years of reading about all the vulnerabilities and privacy holes in Web-based email readers, it makes me gladder than ever to be using a dedicated email app -- first Eudora, then Thunderbird -- set to read email as text-only, of course -- which I'm still using today in conjunction with SpamAssassin and some seriously ball-busting filters.

    Kind of nice, really, being "behind the times" or "out of style" -- basically, meaning that my spam load is near zero, and I'm spared the agony of over-formatted email with banners and other tacky, flashing, wiggling animated shit that won't hold still.

  32. Gordon861


    I still use Outlook 2000 on an old XP machine for my emails. During the day I can access them via GoogleMail and POP3.

    All my mail is auto sorted into folders as it comes in so I can ignore the mailshots until I want to look at them. Never had any problems with it.

  33. Anonymous Coward


    Email exposes you to too much spam and security risks.

    I only find it useful for order dispatch notifications when I order things online.

    1. Stoneshop


      In all the years I've been using email, I've never had one single security incident, and when I got bothered by the level of spam I installed spamassassin.

      So the one who's failing is you, not email.

  34. Bassey


    For me, the biggest problem with desktop email clients is the calendar. That might sound a bit weird but I've just got so used to my phone synching my email, contacts, tasks and Calendar that I view them as one. When my Mail client fails to do this it annoys the crap out of me. So, I find myself using a web-based OWA interface from my home desktop. It's horribly slow and clunky but at least everything is on the one place. Besides, most stuff is dealt with from the mobile during the day. There are usually only a couple of home emails each day that require anything more than a quick response, a delete or moving into the relevant folder for later.

  35. David Kelly 2

    Poor Threading

    The author claims has been steadily improving, which I agree. I strongly disagree with respect to its threading abilities. Lumping all messages which belong to a thread in a single hierarchal tier is much closer to sorting than threading. In addition to so-called threading by In-Reply-To and References headers also throws all similarly titled messages in the same "thread" no matter what Message-Id says.

    1. Mad Hacker

      Threading vs Threading

      Ok, you are talking about viewing messages in a threadlike layout, like how gmail does it. What the author was referring to was the ability for the mail app to do more then one thing at once without slowing down or freezing up. That would be multi-threading and is something Outlook is horrible at often freezing up not just Outlook but the whole operating system while communicating with the mail server.

      Regarding the threaded view you are talking about I've found most users don't use mail that way, they just sort chronologically as do I so I cannot comment on how well mail app threads messages in that view. I do know I hate GMail's threaded view in its webmail.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Threading vs Threading

        Yes, indeed I was. has became more usable as Mac OS X process handling improved.

  36. Tony Hoyle

    Problem with MobileMe no server side filtering, which makes it a no hoper in the imap stakes for me.

    Google apps + thunderbird is enough. Works whichever OS I'm using at the time, and keeps itself synchronised perfectly.

  37. Jon 66


    It's a shame that the desktop mail apps don't approach threaded messages like gmail. I used to use kmail but once I got used to seeing mail threads which included the messages I sent alongside the messages received I switched. A lot of desktop mail apps will quite happily thread Inbox and Sent but not the two together.

    1. OffBeatMammal


      have a look at the new Outlook 2010 beta (and I can only guess it'll make it's way into the Windows Live Mail client at some later date) - I love that new feature. Not sure if it works with POP3/IMAP accounts (will have to check it out) but day to day on my Exchange account (I have a hosted exchange service because I got fed up with adverts in email!) it works really well

    2. Michael C

      try outlook 2010

      It has a similar message threading system, and really cuts back on what you see in your inbox. It's still bloated as hell for a mail client, and dog slow, and it still has a lot of quirks to work out (not to mention its still a beta), but it;s not half bad.

    3. Macka
      Thumb Up

      Gmail + Phone

      Tying all email to a single device (and email client) is just so limiting in this day and age. I want to be able to read and write my emails from anywhere.

      So I'm with you. I do most of my email now in Gmail (home and work) for a tonne of reasons: not least because it accurately weeds out 99.99% of all spam and 100% of all malware - and I don't have to lift a finger. Add Google Chromium's Mail Checker and "Send from" extensions, and the browser IS the email client now.

      On the go my iPhone's is my email client. It can handle multiple accounts, talk POP and IMAP and will optionally hang onto the most recent 200 emails in any inbox. That's plenty to keep me going until I get back in front of my desktop. Or if I really really need to I can access, search, etc, all my Gmail emails from the iPhone via the browser (though that's not optimal).

      Maybe it's just me, but I never really thought of facebook's messages as a real email system before this article. 95% of my communication in facebook is done in short conversational bursts on Walls. I only use it's message (email) feature for the occasional private message, but not for anything serious.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    The problem is...

    ...some people do not even know that there are such things as mail clients. They just use one of the ad poisoned web mail clients, having no idea that... can and should just send plain text. can and should compress your attachments. can and should backup your stuff. can get a domain name and some personal email addresses and - if it needs to be this way - your personal webmailer for very little money nowadays.

    Instead they trust all of their communications to an ad based service...

    Mine is the one with the hosted exchange in the right and the own domain in the left pocket...

    1. Cameron Colley

      This is true and sad.

      While I can see the attraction of web based services they just don't offer the flexibility or control of a dedicated client -- webmail has it's place but lack of new-mail notifications, for exmaple, mean that it's not a real enail experience.

      If I used facebospace, for instance, I'd still have to rely on the IMAP client to my hosted mailbox to recieve a message that "Tom just joined the group: guys looking for guys" promptly without having to keep checking the site for updates.

  39. De Zeurkous

    MUAs are for lusers

    What's wrong w/ a text editor, the sendmail utility, a Maildir, and something to fill it?

    1. Michael C

      mail is one thing

      ...managing contacts, calendars, meeting invites, project related messaging, share point integration, and more, that's what a client is for. If it was just receive/respond, I'd be OK with the mail client I had in Win 98.

  40. tom 71

    Paying for development

    I've been running opera for years, and yes I used to pay for it. It's still my primary browser and I can't wait until I get 10.50 on linux. The mail client is almost brilliant, after a very short while the use of views becomes second nature. However it still doesn't support any public key encryption , stopping me using it as my primary client. This is a real shame since Unite give you such a nice way of making your public keys available.

  41. Peter Kay

    Windows live mail actually isn't that bad

    I use it for a particular mail server, because every other client apart from Pine hates its quirky IMAP implementation. Its top posting is annoying, but I do consider it a step up from Outlook Express. Thunderbird is a no go, and I must figure out why it seems not to apply its message rules all the time. It does, however, happily cope with mail stores with hundreds of thousands of messages in it.

    I have difficulty with believing Opera's 'no folder' approach works well. Is it 'database like' or actually a proper database that can cope with hundreds of thousands of messages? Thunderbird isn't perfect, but there have to be at least 20,000 unread (mostly spam) in my inbox. I need message rules to seperate out the interesting messages from numerous mailing lists, notifications from facebook etc and suchlike.

    It's also a bit unfair to say that Outlook is an awful mail client. Outlook 97 was awful, and 2000 imperfect, but Microsoft actually did care enough to improve the product.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Lots of mail

      Did you actually read the text? Opera's CEO has 20-30 GB of mail in Opera!

      Mailing list get automatic/separate views in Opera.

      You can easily create filters and mark mails there as "filtered", which means that they don't show up where you don't want them to. It's basically a folder on steroids.

  42. Dibbles
    Thumb Down

    er... a few clarifications

    I usually find Andrew's articles to be a good read - whether you agree or not they prompt debate - and wish more of them had comments enabled (good piece on Spotify vs music-buying, btw, although 0.6m from 35.2m is a decline of <2% yoy, so not necessarily much to talk about just yet).

    However, on this one, it would appear things have gone a bit haywire.

    " Did the whole world just migrate away from Hotmail over to Facebook when we weren't looking?"

    er... no. Long term trends show that Hotmail unique figures have stayed at worst steady, at best have climbed slightly over the last 3 years, even while Facebook goes on the rampage.

    "Microsoft dropped the email client from Windows 7, the rebranded version of Outlook it calls Windows Live Mail".

    er... no. It was Outlook Express, and my guess is that it was either dropped as part of its efforts to appease everyone by unbundling software, or because there was no further development of it.

    Interestingly, research from various sources suggests that it's IM that's been the big loser from TwitFace - even with Facebook's 'IM' client being absolute rubbish - while email retains a very different purpose and identity from the social networking sites.

    Sooo.... interesting piece on email software, but the premise needs work.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: er... a few clarifications

      A typo mangled the meaning of that Outlook Express passage. Fixed now, cheers.

    2. J 33

      Windows Live Mail history

      Well, that all too common Outlook vs. Outlook Express confusion was not the only mistake in the product's history (and that confusion was probably the most significant reason for dropping that name).

      The product was initially called bluntly Internet Mail and News (in the Windows 95 era), and was later on intgrated to IE and renamed Outlook Express. However, there is, and has never been, a thing called "Vista Mail". The Outlook Express was renamed to Windows Mail when IE7 was released, and then split from the IE product line and merged to WIndows Live product line at Windows 7 release (thus the renaming once again, to Windows Live Mail).

  43. Anonymous Coward

    email is pants

    Example - yesterday evening around 5pm a friend sent me link via email. The mail contained one sentence and a hyperlink.

    He lives less than 5 miles away, the mail took 14 hours to arrive.

    email is pants - totally unreliable - IM or phone is the only reliable way of ensuring someone "gets the message".

    1. Cameron Colley

      What's it like back there?

      I assume you're posting from the early '90s, or was your email provider down?

      I've had email arrive before SMS messages sent from the same device.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Email is not instantaneous

      Contrary to popular belief, email traffic is delivered as "best effort". Usually it arrives quickly, but that isn't guaranteed. Therefore it isn't the ideal medium when you need to get the message across in a hurry. Like at that school shooting in the US a while back...

      I did once tell a user that if she wanted to have an email delivered quickly, she should type it all in capitals, and that the server would pick that up and give it a higher priority. :-)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whatever happened to your brain?

    Funny, you post an article titled "Whatever happened to the email app?" that begins with "Is the email program dead?" and then you cite no less than ten different, currently available e-mail clients. I wonder: are you paid by the word?

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Whatever happened to your brain?

      I think you're being ever so slightly literal. There's 'dead' and then there's 'dead'. For instance, I could be described as dead at my desk most days. Doesn't mean I'm actually dead. Y'know?

  45. De Zeurkous

    RE: email is pants

    Do the words 'crap ISP' mean anything to you?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pegasus still going

    Back nearly a decade ago I got my first IT job as hired labour for a roll out of Outlook 2000 replacing Pegasus for a local authority. I did hundreds of outlook installs and some user/interface troubleshooting after but never once used Pegasus.

  47. De Zeurkous

    RE: Whatever happened to your brain?


  48. John Navas

    Plug for Opera Mail packaged as a mail client rant

    1. Spam and malware are primarily responsible for the decline and fall of email, yet not even touched on.

    2. Opera Mail is OK, but nothing to write home about.

    3. Thunderbird is pretty good, deserving of more attention than it was given.

    4. Pegasus is painfully obsolete, inexcusably buggy.

    5. Eudora died of a bad business model, should have been open-sourced.

    6. Email survives in the enterprise (Outlook, Lotus) and on smart mobile devices (Blackberry, Gmail Android).

    7. Next time make your Subject more representative of your content; e.g., "Opera Mail survives".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Opera mail survives, despite underwhelming mediocre interface and configuration mechanisms".. Much like the browser- runs fine, until you want an ad blocker, then you have to grub around through tonnes of broken links until you find a load of js/css to hide some ads some of the time.

      Cursed by "close, but no cigar". Opera is theoretically great, but I always fall over weird omissions whenever I forget and try to use it. Opera Mini is nice, though....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Right-click - Block Content - click on offensive ad - never see it again

      2. Anonymous Coward


        What on earth are you talking about? Are you drunk?

        Ad blocker? Just right-click and blockl content! No need to edit JS/CSS to block ads.

        Also, there are several third-party ad blockers for Opera.

        1. Stoneshop


          make your system believe that the adserver for the offending ad lives or

          The easiest* way to do this is by using one of the files offered on . Works against all kinds of third party javascrap too in one go.

          Making your local DNS server authoritative for particular domains involved in ad-peddling achieves much the same result (of course, it responds, or NXDOMAIN)

          * as in, I can tell any windows user down to the level of nitwit to "download this file, uncompress it and stick the result in \windows\system32\drivers\etc ", and have it work.

  49. AndyMM


    Just been playing around with opera mail to a gmail account. Really fast search but the main reason I would not swap from Thunderbird is I could find no way to sync with google contacts.

    Import/export yes and fine, but Zindus on Thunderbird is great and easy.

    Anyone know of a widget for opera mail similar to Zindus ?

    Good article though.

  50. Fred 4

    GyazMail - Mac

    this is an inexpensive email client to

    I like -have been using it since OSX.2.x as my previous email client - Claris Emailer (v1) gave up the ghost to pop security measures.

  51. John Rose


    This is not a plug. However, I think that the article should have mentioned Evolution, both for & against.

    1. Joel Mansford
      Thumb Up

      Evolution - together with Windows Port

      Having used and been very impressed with Evolution on Ubuntu I've regularly checked for Windows ports. The 'against' Thunderbird for me was lack of Calendar and contacts support

      This windows port seems to work

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Forte's Agent for Me

    Handles my Email and UUsenet in one place (or till usenet dies away). Set to ignores HTML s web beacons don't give my address away, and I can filter to my hearts content.

    Yes it's paid for, it's a bit of a learning curve but works for me.

  53. This post has been deleted by its author

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess it must be just me

    Apparently, nobody else wants an application that does one thing well. Most others seem to want (or accept being shoved down their throats) applications that bundle a bunch of features together and do them all rather crappily. If you ask me, and so far nobody has, email+calendar in one app does not make sense. I would rather have a good email client and a separate but equally good calendar client.

    The only reason people think we need these things together is because of Outlook. Thankfully, I have never been forced to use this crapware of an email client. I have sampled it numerous times since its birth and have always found it crap. It's also why I dislike Evolution, because it tries too hard to be Outlook.

    I used Eudora for the longest time in Windows and have long switched to Thunderbird. I run Thunderbird everywhere, and it does one thing, and does it very well. I have never found a webmail client that I liked as much as either Eudora or Thunderbird, they are all lacking in one way or another, including the Blessed Gmail.

    I frankly don't get social networking, and can't see ever using it as a primary mode of communication. I guess that makes me a 21st century luddite, or at least a curmudgeon. I do rather like GCal, and use it extensively. Who cares if it's not integrated with my email client of choice. I've been trying Sunbird for a desktop app, but it's still pretty early beta, and seems stuck there for the time being.

    Back to the topic: screw web 2.0, give me a good set of desktop apps any day.

    1. AceRimmer

      I don't like it so it must be crap

      You don't like outlook so it must be crapware?

      Bit of a strong comment from someone who's only "sampled it"

      I've been using outlook for 10+ years and never had an issue with it. It synchs nicely with my phone, integrates well with the rest of the MS Office suit (including OneNote) and now that I'm on Windows 7 searching for content in emails is almost instant.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Nobody knows your email address unless you tell them, and messages are private by default. "

    Well, sort of. Over time email addresses leak to the spammers so there is a need to change or rotate them. As for privacy: not private enough. I can maintain several email accounts on my own domain and limit who is given the address and the senders I will accept for that account. But where is the email client that treats encryption as the default. In an ideal world I would send all mail encrypted to people I know who would not only provide an email address but also a public key.

    1. Doc Spock


      "In an ideal world I would send all mail encrypted to people I know who would not only provide an email address but also a public key."

      I couldn't agree more. But "Joe Average" doesn't care. Case in point: about two years ago I sent all my (non-techy) family and close friends a short e-mail saying why encryption is a good thing and how they could encrypt their e-mails. Of course, I knew that wouldn't be enough so I also bribed them with the promise of free alcohol for the first person to send me an encrypted e-mail. The result? Still not a single encrypted e-mail. I wouldn't care but it means I can't encrypt the e-mails I send them either.

      So, the encryption process needs to be transparent to the end user. Plus, if everyone used public-key cryptography to digitally sign e-mails it would pretty much put an end to spam from spoofed addresses (wrong/no signature -> spam).

  56. Richard Porter

    Look in the browser?

    "Opera has been hiding an amazing email program for seven years now, in a place nobody would think of looking: in a web browser."

    That's nonsense. I used to use Netscape Communicator and that was excellent for email. I well remember when someone using Outlook sent me a snottygram followed by no fewer than three cancel messages. I received the lot, and the subsequent apology!

    I now use Messenger Pro on RISC OS which is also very good (there's a version for Windross). In particular it lets me read and send messages in plain text. I can't get caught by hidden web URLs, remote images and active content.

    Mac Mail lets me originate messages in plain text, but if I'm replying to an html message it uses html. I really don't like it much.

  57. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Pass me my slippers. It must be time for my nap

    Fetchmail and the AT&T Toolbox version of mailx anyone? Folders, mime attachments and an interface that is soooo familiar. Yes, I really do use this combination, at least sometimes.

    Now I REALLY know that I'm past it!

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opera Vs IMAP

    I've been using Opera mail for years now and as far as I'm concerned it's killed IMAP stone dead. I would never use IMAP now. Organising your emails is a client-side task.

    1. Nigel 11

      Client-side task?

      What do you do when you want to check back to an old e-mail and you don't have access to your client?

      What is your client? Your desktop at work? A notebook? The netbook you use when your partner is using the serious computer? A cybercafe you are using because your notebook has broken down while you're 300 or 3000 miles from home? Do you reboot into Linux/Windows to read your mail because your client (where the mail is organised) runs on Windows/Linux? And so on.

      I regularly access my mail using Thunderbird from several different computers under three different O/Ses, and have occasionally accessed from quite a few more. I use Thunderbird out of choice, falling back on webmail services when Thunderbird isn't available. In all cases I see the same folder structure. Personally having my mail universally accessible and organised is far more importnat than having any particular client.

      Organising my e-mail is very definitely a server-side activity!

      1. Stoneshop

        Access to old email?

        ssh to your home box, and start up mutt. Furrfu.

  59. EvilGav 1

    There are other ways . . .

    . . . I use Notes at work, which is horrible and would be terminal if I had to use it at home as well.

    At home I use Hotmail as my storage, but the mailing is done through my own domain from Hotmail.

    It means my e-mail is available no matter where I am in the world, as long as I have an internet connection (pretty much always have one of those).

    I used to use Outlook Express, followed by Outlook and finally Thunderbird, but had migrated almost entirely away from that by around 2001. I'm fairly certain I haven't installed an e-mail client (or used one), since switching to XP.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Goat Jam

        @gmail all the way

        "After much resistance, just over two years ago, I migrated to Gmail and have never looked back."

        Did that circa 2005 while gmail was in limited invite only mode.

        "which either means you are all much older than me (late 30's), "

        Not really. Loads of "tech guys" have privacy/monopoly issues with the Big G.

        Oh, and I'm older than you (mid 40's)

        Hey, it must be my shout, have a cold one.

      2. Mark 65

        For my sins

        I am a somewhat similar techy in that I use Gmail and collect it using a web browser (at work with https forced or at home on the Mac) and an iphone (on the go - wanted an android device but live in Oz so choice limited and the JP links in with the Mac nicely as you'd expect). Use IMAP with mail organised on the server for common view.

  60. K_Smith

    Web mail, no ta

    Thunderbird, own domains, own email addresses, plain text emails.

    No ad based, web mail here thank you

    Never used Facebook, if anyone wants to know what I am doing, email me or call me.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      re: Web mail, no ta

      You're right on there, pal.

      Same deal here... I own a domain, can set up a fistful of separate addresses as I need them -- including a "spamtrap@" account for things like order/account-establishment confirmations, and do it all through Thunderbird, except when I'm out of town and someplace whose wifi isn't email app-friendly, when I use the custom Webmail at my company offered with cPanel.

      Ads? What ads?

  61. Bryce Prewitt

    I love Pegasus Mail, but not David Harris.

    I love Pegasus Mail. I think it is a fantastic program.

    My problem is with David Harris. I have considered supporting him before as anyone who offers up a quality product deserves to be paid for it. Unfortunately, David's a whinging crybaby. Over the past decade he has offered upgrades at a pitiful pace, which is bad enough, but then goes on to cry about not "getting paid enough for it". His recent letter, detailing how he would like 1,000 supporters a _year_ EACH donating $50 USD just to continue development without detailing any sort of roadmap or release timetable is ABSOLUTELY LUDICROUS. A request for a guaranteed income without a guaranteed delivery of a product is easily one of the most arrogant things I've ever heard of from an independent software developer. The fact that Pegasus Mail has remained largely unchanged (except under the hood) for the past decade further adds to David's arrogance. Add in that he has spent the last couple of years rewriting Pegasus Mail's core code because he hasn't kept up with modern techniques and compilers and it all comes off as a guy who wants to get paid NOW what he didn't in his glory days.

    My heart goes out to him in many ways, though. It's hard to be a lone Shakespeare making a living off your work when you have a million monkeys with typewriters trying to replicate what you've done and give it away for free. I wholeheartedly agree with his thoughts on open source and am very glad he has not released his code for free. Unfortunately, instead of manning up for the hard sell and convincing us all that his product is worth it, that he's deeply invested in its future and that he cares about us - the end user - he's chosen to throw himself a giant pity party.

    If Pegasus Mail 5.0 comes out before the end of this year then I'll join his "Pegasus Mail 1,000" and send him $50. If not, he'll never get a dime from me and, I suspect, many, many, many people who have grown tired of his charades. You want to get paid $70,000 NZD a year SOLELY to develop Pegasus Mail then you had damn well better develop it and communicate with your NOW _PAYING_ CUSTOMERS.

  62. Anthony Cartmell
    Thumb Up

    Opera Mail is best

    I find that Opera's "database with lots of views" method of storing email is perfect for my combination of masses of important mail and poor memory. I can find messages in many different ways with ease :) As well as the excellent pre-indexed search, I can view messages by author/recipient, email account, by attachment type, by labels, or by custom filters (including regexp functions). A single message can appear in any number of these different types of list simultaneously :)

    I'm very surprised that no-one else has copied Opera in this idea, and that people still like to file messages into folders like they would with a paper letter - one folder per message (perhaps with manually-applied tags to help). This restricts you to two methods of finding it: remembering which folder, and search.

  63. Semihere

    Only OSXMail on the Mac?

    There's more than just the default 'Mail' client on OS X - any M$Office owner also has the choice of Entourage. I don't use it myself, but it is there... just sayin'

  64. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Happy Opera user

    Opera is great for managing e-mail and like the rest of the browser it doesn't use much memory. It's IMAP handling encouraged me to move all of my accounts to IMAP but always use the Opera full-text search. Filtering needs improving for ease of use - you need to know how handle RegExs too soon, being able to use different personalities on the same account (even it's just signatures) and PGP support and integration with the OS address book would make it the dog's bollocks.

  65. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Wassatt? sombody say sommat?

    Still happily using email here (another Claws-Mail user). Developed some useful filtering rules over the years so spam really isn't a significant problem. Can't be bothered with all this instant messaging junk. The 'net waits for me, not the other way round.

  66. J 3


    Thunderbird for work email (since the Lotus Notes based web version is horrendous and only used in emergencies when there is no other alternative).

    Web mail for non-work, private email. More than good enough, has filters, etc. And the FaceSpace et al. stuff gets forwarded there anyway.

    The students have all been moved to a GMail based email here now, but staff and faculty will never be. Legal reasons, confidential stuff, dammit... If companies do it why couldn't the university?

  67. Paul 131
    Thumb Up

    Postbox anyone?

    Anyone checked out Postbox which is based on Thunderbird.

    Runs rings around Mac Mail which is my view has a rather dated interface.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about...

    Evolution? Someone else mentioned it earlier. I think it's a great client and works better than many of the other GUI clients mentioned (Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail). Why do so many people overlook it?

  69. Apocalypse Later


    Old, abandoned and has a few bugs, but this is what my wife uses for one important feature. It lets you review the headers before downloading the mail, and mark most of them to be deleted BEFORE download. Thunderbird is supposed to have something like this but it doesn't work the same way, and anyhow, the time is long past for my wife to learn to use a new program. Phoenix is in her long term memory.

    I review emails by webmail, then download the ones I want to keep with Thunderbird after deleting the junk. Why is this important? Not everyone has high speed landline broadband. When family members send me a 5Mb snap of whatever, that gets deleted unseen too.

  70. Snert Lee

    In the good ol' days...

    In the old, old days, the only email client was system supplied, whether it was a user hostile thing layered over EMACS, such as was on the System360 in the late '80s (the program's name has been blotted from memory but the terminal client of choice was Kermit), or a BOFH inspired tendency to delete anything it regarded as too old (pine on HP-UX in the same era). There wasn't a choice of email client as such, just a set of step for downloading the text files.

    The in the merely old days, along comes commercial ISPs, and you use a client because you want to receive email, not just have an address. Then usable web clients began to appear, and you still needed an email client to download and archive.

    Today, unlimited storage is the norm and, for the casual user, there's just no compelling reason to have a stand alone client, until something terrible happens and all their data goes poof.

    Where the icon for nostalgic reminiscings?

  71. Anonymous Coward

    Q: Whatever happened to the email app?

    A: Webmail improved and we all use more than one PC. Since it's more convenient to use webmail than to configure a mail client on every PC we use, mail clients are used less.

  72. Fuzz


    I can't believe how little love there is on here for webmail. Access all your email and contacts from any Internet connected computer, don't worry about backups or changing computers. what is there not to like about that?

    I use gmail together with my own domain name, I just can't see why I'd ever go back to an email client.

  73. fwibbler

    Messenger Pro

    Messenger Pro (formerly Gemini) available for Windows, Linux, MacOS.

    Don't know how good it is compared to todays competition, but its miles better than OE ever was and still developed.

  74. Bruno Girin

    Thunderbird + Evolution

    I use Thunderbird and Evolution as email clients. My main reason for doing this is that both of them use bayesian filtering for spam and they are both quite good at it. The result is very little spam in my inbox.

  75. ZenCoder

    Gmail + IMAP & Thunderbird for the win.

    All my active accounts are gmail accounts, I keep my work, family/friends, shopping ... all on separate accounts.

    On XP I use Thuderbird.

    On OSX I use Mail

    On my iPod Touch I use Mail

    If necessary I can always log in.

    Everything stays synced and organized. Mail and Thunderbird both have unified inboxes. Separate accounts for separate uses keeps things organized.

  76. This post has been deleted by its author

  77. KaD


    I have used Thunderbird since I dropped using Outlook Express back when XP first came out. It's anti-spam filters are great and have yet to grab a legit e-mail from my friends. Support for POP3/SMTP is excellent and IMAP support just got a lot better with the latest version 3 that came out. The new search function to look through your e-mail is a huge improvement over Thunderbird v2.x . Only problem I am finding is that ISP's are blocking SMTP ports on their network to combat spam-bots.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leaving Pegasus

    I've used pmail first in DOS then in its Windows form, but I'm finally leaving it now (the "printer font" bug was the final straw - it won't _open_ a mail message just because I changed printers).

    But even migrating from it is easy because I can run the Mercury server to provide an IMAP server that directly accesses my old mail - even those old DOS-days messages.

  79. Richard Porter

    re. Messenger Pro

    No Messenger Pro wasn't formerly Gemini. Gemini was an offshoot from Messenger Pro which subsequently reverted to the RISC OS name.

  80. James Halliday

    Surely protocol, not client is important?

    I run a server with hmailserver (smtp, pop3 & imap - all running off a PHP database). I want to add an account with some PHP, piece of piss. I want to integrate some anti-spam, wall I just put assp in front of the smtp port. I want to setup some rules to sort spam, empty junk boxes etc - well I just use the PHP IMAP API and a cron.

    So standards based platform does offer some advantages over bespoke webmail systems.

    Then we move onto the clients. I have my IMAP server 'out there' with mail trickling in, and old mail nicely sorted into folders. I can then point any imap client I feel like at it. I've got K9 on my nexus, Thunderbird on my desktop, roundcubemail for the web-client (replaced squirrelmail - bit I'm trialling something else I forgot the name of). Oh and my ipod's default client oh and my... well you get the idea.

    I think the point I was driving at, was if you've got an IMAP server, I can't think how you could possibly have something more open to extensions on the server side, and decent unified folder access on pretty much anything with an IP connection.

  81. Akagi Kong

    Claws Mail

    You completely ignored Claws Mail.

  82. Neoc

    Zimbra webserver for me

    Leaving what I use at work aside (I have no choice in the server/client), my story goes thus:

    I originally used Pegasus mail. It wasn't bad, I liked it (loved it, really), but it didn't handle multiple external email accounts too well (at the time - I understand things are better now).

    I moved to Thunderbird and was happy with it until recently. What changed? My lifestyle - I have recently started travelling (for both personal and work reasons) intra-state, inter-state and overseas and Thunderbird's local mail cannot be accessed from overseas. And I refuse to leave my email in my ISP's (or anyone else's) mail server. Webmail would have been nice, but with the USA government being as paranoid and "grabby" as it is, I refused to hand my email to Google or Yahoo!.

    So I bit the bullet, salvaged hardware from various dead or dying PCs and built myself a mail server - Ubuntu + Zimbra (open-source version) + SpamAssasin. Works like a charm. (after some install problems - I was using Ubuntu 64bits and Zimbra comes 32bits by default... which I didn't realise until much swearing had occured)

    Yes, ZCS is a mail *server*, but it integrates with other POP/IMAP servers to bring my mail to a central location (the way I want it) and it provides three web front-ends (AJAX, HTML and stripped-down Mobile). And it acts as a proper POP/IMAP server so that Thunderbird can access my emails - although I admit I use the AJAX front-end even when I'm at home.

    There is a Zimbra mail *client*, but I've never felt the need to use it. There is also a Sync facility for those of us with smartphones/PocketPCs, but that is only available with the professional edition (which you have to pay for). Still looking at third-party products to link my HTC calendar/contacts to ZCS over the airways.

    Having accessed my email on my server from around the world, I can say that Zimbra fits *my* requirements. YMMV, of course.

    1. Stoneshop

      I trust my ISP somewhat more than I do the US gvt

      "And I refuse to leave my email in my ISP's (or anyone else's) mail server. Webmail would have been nice, but with the USA government being as paranoid and "grabby" as it is, I refused to hand my email to Google or Yahoo!."

      Well, webmail *IS* leaving your mail on someone's mailserver, be it your own ISP, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc. That logical inconsistency aside, there are webmail providers that are outside US jurisdiction, and so far haven't buckled when the US gvt thinks otherwise.

      But my mail is *my* mail, and it sits on *my* machine.

  83. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    wow... The Bat!... Telnet... Pine... sighhhh...

    I'm lucky to be working with a company that runs its own Web-based mail app for staffers; when I'm out of the country -- I'm typing this from Mexico right now -- I can't always count on the local wifi-enabled cafes, or the apartment block I'm staying in, to be friendly to Thunderbird, so this is about the only time I use Web-based email.

    Still, I fondly remember, back in the day, being able to Telnet into my company's servers from pretty much anywhere and deal with my email in Pine if I needed to. It wasn't pretty, but it was simple, elegant and dependable.

    Just reading this article makes me want to try and hunt down a Mac telnet app -- if there's any still out there -- and see if I can still do that.

    Wow, sigh... good old Pine.

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re : wow... The Bat!... Telnet... Pine... sighhhh...

      PLEASE update your wish. Use SSH not telnet !

    2. flying_walrus
      Jobs Halo

      mac telnet client

      um... how about telnet? on the command line? comes with the mac? or did you want a bloated gui interface

  84. Daniel B.

    Eudora in a floppy

    This was the main plus I found with Eudora back in 1996. It could fit in a 1.44 3.5" floppy! Also, the interface was simple & quick to use. Oh, I really miss Eudora. I currently use PINE on some systems... :)

  85. Keith Oldham

    Is it just me ?

    Lots of complaints about spam killing e-mail in the comments above. I think it depends on your ISP (Plusnet in our case ) These days our ISP's system does a great job removing essentially all spam.

    For the record we've used Thunderbird for years + web-based access when traveling - and yes we've had our own domain name for years.

  86. Anonymous Coward

    Everyone: 2 email adresses, with 2 clients.

    I currently use, and *like*, Windows Live Mail for personal use. I beleive it's got the biggest user base of them all, but then again, who gives a damn.

    gmail for the anti-MS crowd, Yahoo! if that's your thing. Hotmail if you've been hanging on to an old and dear email address for years.

    So that's a web based email for personal use, and whatever my current employer gives me for work use (so long as it's not Notes, I'm OK with that). That covers 99% of the population right there.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Future of eMail is......

    Gasp!...Lotus Notes, according to Matt Cain of Gartner. Of course, he is not claiming that Notes messaging is the reason for this conclusion, rather that mail forms one element of a collaborative client that includes presence, IM, plug-in applications, LOB integration & productivity tools. Actually, the new Notes 8.5 client is really rather good, a radically changed UI compared to older versions and light years ahead of Outlook, which is just an eMail client and nothing more. It will also run regardless of OS allowing a unified management. Whatever happened to the eMail application?.......It grew up.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      BLOATUS NOTES???????????

      This is a complete turd of an email application, any version, even 8.5.1 which I have been forced to use. Any version before 8.x was a coprolite. I still think it is.

      MORE THAN EMAIL!!! Yeah.......please leave the fecal email/calendar app to be swept off by the winds of time, hopefully without leaving a stench.

      I am not complaining of the non-email functions, just am absolutely appalled by the ghastly, malformed spawn of its "database" it calls "the email application". It should have been hacked into pieces at birth and incinerated and its ashes forced down its own developers throats.

      Flame me if you want.

  88. luxor

    Pocomail for me.

    Been using Pocomail for years now, excellent mail client. Can't stand web mail.

  89. Shadrach
    Thumb Up

    Great article!

    Ah Eudora, my trustful emailing companion through the late 90s, early 00s, before they (Qualcomm) threw in the towel and stopped updating it. So many features, the best filters in a GUI client, excellent keyboard usability, it even had an LDAP client :)

    The others mentioned here are nice clients, I've tried most of them, GUI or not, but always ended back with Eudora. The interfaces of the others were just too clunky. I migrated quite happily to Thunderbird in '05. TB has enough features to be useful to me, well supported and nice plugins. I do miss Eudora's filters though...

  90. finnbarr

    Thunderbird over here too

    I'm currently using Thunderbird on both Windows 7 and Ubuntu (KK) and it does the job very well.

    If most people use webmail, it's news to me. I imagine I'm just another ageing Luddite.

  91. simon_elreg

    The Bat! since for ages...

    Created a FB account under pressure from friends, using bogus details of course. 48 hours later I deactivated it. I'm one of those mid forties fellahs, but I have absolutely no desire to 'hang out' on FB with a bunch of people that want to play a sodding farm thingy all day, and let me know every time they've made a cuppa or farted. Creator in our Imaginations, what ever the %$?# next?

    Email: I have used The Bat! since the early days. Being a skinflint I have always begrudgingly paid for it, but then there isn't anything better out there...IMO. I do have a free webmail account, but that is for emergencies only as they inevitably just become giant crap collectors.

    With a hosted domain I control my email: unlimited forwarders, SPAM Assassin, domain keys, etc, and I don't even remember the last time I received a bit of SPAM in my inbox. Oh, and of course a hosted domain comes with a webmail interface as well. And whilst Horde may not look as beautiful as all these web2.0 apps, it certainly is much more powerful and configurable. If Horde updated its interface, nothing would be better out there!

    Email isn't dead; what a nonsense. FB is a fad, and twitter just a phase (I won't listen, I won't...laaaaaa laaaaaa laaaaaaaa can't hear you...,laaaaa). And whilst all of those little brained 'me me me me...why-won't-it-work-when-i-look-at-it' idiots jump in ass first and throw away their rights to privacy, all us ageing cave dwellers continue to have reliable, private communications without being bombarded with useless, irritating advertising.

    (when I say private, I mean almost).

    1. rmacd


      Horde does of course have its sleek dimp (d=dynamic) application which is a hell of a lot more ajax-like than the old imp. Though you can't go wrong with plain HTML.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    spam and filters

    You may not see much spam in your inbox, but the sheer cost of providing the horsepower to keep it that way is making mail provision a losing proposition for many ISPs (Most of whom I wouldn't trust with my email anyway).

    Of course if they fall down in the filtering game the economic costs are even higher (disk space, overloads, upset customers - AT&T had to spend $60 million in an emergency buildout of mailservers in the early part of this decade to cope with a spam attack which spectacularly crippled their systems for 2 weeks)

    Just as few ISPs provide Usenet anymore, my prediction for this decade is that "wires only" broadband connections (zero fancy-schmancy web pages, no mail facilities, etc) will come to dominate the field fairly quickly.

    1. simon_elreg

      ISPs? Who mentioned ISPs?

      Quote /*

      You may not see much spam in your inbox, but the sheer cost of providing the horsepower to keep it that way is making mail provision a losing proposition for many ISPs (Most of whom I wouldn't trust with my email anyway).

      */ End Quote

      ISPs? Pah! Never use my ISP's email, too unreliable, but then many ISPs are tending to use Yahoo! mail or Google's gmail nowadays rather than their own servers, so another reason to avoid using them. For example, British Telecom already use branded Yahoo! mail and Virgin Media (cable) are migrating all users over to branded (virgin) gmail. All webmail accounts, but with POP3 access. I think this massively reduces the costs to the ISP...and nearly all will follow as far as I can see.

      But stuff the ISPs, there are many, many excellent and inexpensive hosting services out there to choose from, and many provide email only services, POP3 packages that cost very little, etc. so I don't think it is as cut and dry as you like to think. Furthermore, for a couple of quid a year you can simply register your own domain name and for a few pennies extra some registrars will even supply you with a POP3 mailbox with webmail access...or use their totally free forwarding services.

      Email isn't the problem, it is people not wanting to pay for something they can get for free...or rather, people don't want to pay for something they could easily live without. So I wonder how many FB and Twitter devotees would pay £15 per year for their accounts?

      Email will 'grow up' like everything else, granted, but it won't be going anywhere soon. I think the next phase of email client development is instant messaging incorporated...and any other protocols that can be crammed in to aid communication. As long as it isn't a completely centralised affair I don't care...stuff the living in the cloud crap.

      Email is infinitely more useful that FB, Twitter, and the rest; and with a local email client I can carry my communications around with me on a USB stick and access my email without a connection. Can't do that if your email is stuck on a ruddy Yahoo or Google server.

  93. Jay 2

    Thundewrbird, as can play on MacOS, Linux and Windows

    At work still suffering with Notes 6.x (though at lot better than the evil that was 4.x). I hear we might get to 8.x in the near future!

    Back when I had a PC at home I ran Outlook which was OK and talked to various things like Palm, WinCE, Nokia etc. Then got myself a netbook, threw on Linux and so put Thunderbird + Lightning + Provider Google on there.

    Then I migrated to Mac. I couldn't get (10.5) to use authenticated SMTP properly so gave up and ended up running Thunderbird + Lightning + Provider Google. Now on 10.6 and with Thunderbrid 3 and am fairly happy with everything.

  94. Anonymous Coward

    Lotus Notes is the way forward

    I know what Gartner were getting at. Look at Notes 8.5 and you've got an e-mail client which integrates with loads of other types of collaboration and social tools (e.g. TripIt, Twitter, Tungle, LinkedIn) and you can create widgets that recognise text and associate an action with it. There's a postcode, click on it - and that place is plotted on a Google map, or you see the weather for that place, or the nearest hotspot, or the nearest car park, or Starbuck, etc.

    See a person's name and you can click on it and go straight to their page in the corporate directory. See a flight number and get some info from the airline's web site. And you can teach Notes to recognise things (like part numbers, customer references, order numbers) and associate a lookup action with them. That's pretty powerful. You can also then put those actions into a composite application.

  95. Anonymous Coward

    Missing option

    There's mutt you insensitive clod. Oh, wait, that insult was used on another website, not this. Goes to show I'm gettin gold.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Missing option

      Not mass market. See above.

      1. De Zeurkous

        RE: Missing option

        Don't you mean "Not commercial"? There's no stinkin' market for relatively simple, open tools that have been available forever. I'm not a fan of mutt, but the fact that it's not about e-mail clients in general could've been mentioned in the title. Would make many of us a lot less pissed off.

  96. tardigrade


    Thunderbird gets a mention on Linux, but Evolution should as well. It's the default mail client for a lot of distros and is a very good piece of software.

    Email, contacts, calender, tasks and memos all in one. All work very well together, it's flexible, stable and has a huge number of useful features that other mail clients struggle to provide. It also has Bayesian spam filtering and support for Exchange and Groupware. I think it's great and have never looked back since I started using it a few years ago.

  97. Dave 142


    Pine is the only way to go!

  98. The Avangelist

    devils advocate

    I use every single one of them. Then again I develop an email marketing application so I am looking at them all day to day.

    Gmail has some bonuses, but since my hotmail box has existed since 1996 I kinda have to stroke under its chin once in a while.

    1. Noons

      or the devil herself?

      "email marketing application"

      Isn't that what the rest of us call spam?

  99. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    Thunderbird is still the best on all three platforms!

    I remember long ago using CCMail client to dial into the CCmail servers directly and pull down mail...

    Thunderbird is still best, I have moved my mailboxes from Windows, to Linux, back to Windows, back to Linux, then finally to Mac. Not once, not one single time, did I ever lose an email in Thundebird over a 3 year period of chopping and changing! All I ever did was simply ZIP up the mail directory and copy it about!

  100. AJ MacLeod

    Keyboard control

    Almost none of the comments mention ease of use from the keyboard, which is a primary consideration for me. Webmail is fine if you get three messages a day and don't mind clicking from one to the next, but none of the web clients are even tolerably nice to use from the keyboard and that means I'll be sticking with kmail for the forseeable future. I did try to like Thunderbird (especially as I really do like Lightning) but found it too uncomfortable and switched back to kmail pretty quickly...

  101. Dave 129

    Opera Mail aint so bad

    I switched to it a while back after getting fed up with Evolution for Windows just never working quite right. It takes some getting used to - especially the lack of folders, and training the filters can be tedious - but so far it's been fine.

    Several bad things not touched on though: getting your contacts in is hard! Opera Mail does not support many formats and has only a small array of fields. Getting stuff out is equally not a trivial task.

    Plus though: cross-platform, works on Windows, Mac and Linux :)

  102. Dave Harris

    Please, not the Bat!

    100% of mail attempting to enter our corporate mail system from the Bat! is spam. Goes directly to our spam traps, now.

    BTW, I'm not the Pegasus guy, although I remember using it at university in the early 90s. Lotus Notes for work and personal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Please, not the Bat!

      Yup. In some job a decade or so past, back when one did things like that, I added "X-Mailer: The Bat!"-like rules to a postfix kill file. I'd bet my full collection of Vigorup ads it is still there, unnoticed. And if two admins have rudely and unfairly targeted it, there might be a few more.

      Might be a great and worthy program, but it has definitely been tarred by a nasty customer base.

    2. Eddie Johnson

      @Dave Harris

      That was my thought too when I read about The Bat! I didn't think anyone outside the ex-Soviet satellites used it, I have a nearly fatal score set on that mail header alone. Any mail I ever saw with that header had a subject like "Heya, check this out!" or an obvious penis pill reference.

      I use both Eudora and Thunderbird, I would have totally abandoned Eudora by now but when you save mail forever it sucks how Tbird saves all the attachments within the MIME encoded body. For the kind of archiving I do Eudora's external attachments work much better, I have the choice of saving them or not. I've actually gone so far as to write sed scripts to clean my Sent mailboxes and delete the MIME attachments in Tbird but the problem is that receiving 1 new message in a given folder suddenly dirties a several hundred meg mail file. If you get just a few messages distributed across a handful of folders you can have 1G to back up very quickly, Tbird is really hard on daily backups.

  103. HobbleAlong

    You left out Evolution

    Eudora was good in its day but I graduated from windoze and am happy with Evolution; and it comes included with my no cost Ubuntu Linux.

  104. andersvinther

    I use Easy-Email

    So I can use any email client that supports IMAP...

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