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Best email client 2021

person typing on laptop at desk
(Image credit: Unsplash)

An email client? But why would you need one? As more and more businesses seem to be migrating to the cloud, you might wonder whether setting up a software application to receive emails on your desktop is even worth it. Well, to many people, it may not be. However, as any security-conscious business owner might tell you, web-based and cloud-based email services are not the safest way to communicate. 

With cloud-based email services like Gmail, your sensitive data rests on the email provider’s servers and is open to being scanned for marketing purposes. In fact, Google made it clear as early as 2014 that it scans your emails for tailored advertising. While this kind of thing is usually handled through AI, it still means that there is a watchful eye keeping track of your communications. That’s where email clients come in, with many provided by the best email providers.

Email clients don’t store your data on an offshore server owned by a private company. Instead, they allow you the freedom to decide where and how you would like to store your emails, even if it’s just on the hard drive of your computer. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at these to see if we can find the best in 2021.

Microsoft Outlook's homepage

Outlook is the official business email hosting service from Microsoft (Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Outlook

Microsoft’s official email client

Price: $139.99 one-time payment or $6.99/month | Third-party integrations: Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, iCloud | Works on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

Trusted provider 
Works with Microsoft Office
Third-party integrations
Contacts and calendar
Somewhat clunky interface

Outlook is the most popular and best email client for businesses. It’s owned by Microsoft, so it comes as no surprise that it integrates flawlessly with Windows 10 and Microsoft 365. Outlook is also one of the oldest email clients on this list, originally launched in July 1996 as Hotmail and later rebranded as in 2012. 

Other than Microsoft products, Outlook also integrates very well with third-party services. Right now, it can be connected with services like Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and iCloud. This helps you keep all your communications and data in one place and manage them through a unified interface. 

Outlook also comes fully integrated with Contacts and Calendar - two essential services that you will need to keep track of your business itinerary. Other important features include a do not disturb mode, quick swipe controls, and automatic surfacing of important emails based on past communications.

Outlook can be purchased on its own for a one-time fee of $139.99. You can also get it packaged with a Microsoft 365 subscription for $6.99 a month. It works on Windows and macOS desktops, as well as smartphones and tablets running Android and iOS.

Thunderbird's settings menu

Thunderbird is the free email client from open-source software developer Mozilla (Image credit: Mozilla)

2. Thunderbird

Free email from Mozilla

Price: Free and open-source | Third-party integrations: Lightning, Exchange, Google Calendar | Works on: Windows only

Free and unlimited
Third-party add-on marketplace
Customizable appearance
Plugins for enhanced security
Works only on desktops

Thunderbird is the best email client that’s available free of charge, courtesy of Mozilla, the same people who brought you the Firefox Browser. Like Firefox, Thunderbird is free and open-source software. That means that you don’t have to pay a fee to access it, even if you use it for commercial or business purposes. That said, it works surprisingly well for a free service and has all the features you’d expect from a paid email client.

In fact, Thunderbird offers even more. With the ability to achieve the functionality you desire simply by installing a third-party add-on of your choice, the email client lets you customize pretty much every aspect of it to your liking, from appearance to security. 

Themes help spice up the vanilla look, which can quickly become repetitive. Security add-ons, on the other hand, help you enhance your privacy when sifting through your professional communications. 

Thunderbird supports an unlimited number of email accounts for free and lets you install many free third-party add-ons to enhance your service. It is an independent project and works on any desktop running Windows. It does not, however, work on smartphones or tablets on the go. 

Mailbird's homepage

Mailbird is a highly customizable, visually appealing email client with a powerful pro version (Image credit: Mailbird)

3. Mailbird

Highly customizable email client

Price: $3.25 per month or $39.50 one-time payment | Third-party integrations: Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Calendar | Works on: Windows only

Free and unlimited
Third-party add-on marketplace
Customizable appearance
Plugins for enhanced security
Works only on desktops

Mailbird is a very flexible email client with a stunning user interface. With many options to customize its look and feel to your liking, you will fall in love with its design in no time. It supports a variety of email hosting services, including Google and Outlook. 

What’s more, Mailbird can be integrated with pretty much every social networking and instant messaging service out there in just a few clicks, thanks to its extensive collection of add-ons and plugins. Another useful feature is the undo send mechanism, which allows you to cancel a sent email if you’re quick enough.

If you are already using a different email client, it’s very easy to import your existing contacts and emails to Mailbird. If not, you can set it up to work with pretty much any kind of webmail server. Mailbird can even be connected to Facebook and WhatsApp, allowing you to import your contacts and your profile picture from there. 

Mailbird Personal costs $3.25 a month if paid annually or $39.50 a year. It supports unlimited email accounts per user. Mailbird Business, on the other hand, costs $4.92 a month or $59 a year. It comes with email tracking and priority support.

Hiri's homepage

Hiri is an email client designed for business and meant to simplify the process of managing emails (Image credit: Hiri)

4. Hiri

Best email client for busy entrepreneurs

Price: $39 a year or $199 one-time payment | Third-party integrations: Outlook, Exchange, Hotmail | Works on: Windows, macOS, Linux

Sleek interface
Simplified inbox design
Support for Microsoft Outlook and Exchange
Doesn’t work on smartphones
Can be a little expensive

Hiri is a premium-range email client designed primarily with business users in mind. As such, it contains a lot of useful features that help simplify the process of managing emails. The idea is to make things easy for you so that replying to emails no longer feels like a chore. For now, Hiri only supports Outlook, Exchange, and Hotmail. 

Hiri’s interface is sleek and professional. It features a smart dashboard that prioritizes important emails and tells you how long you should wait before hitting that reply button. There are two inbox views available. Unified view puts all your emails in one place, whereas zero inbox lets you categorize them into different folders.

The composer window used to write emails is also very simple. There aren’t a lot of fancy options to format your text, which again minimizes the effort needed to compose emails. The subject line is actually located at the bottom and not the top. That’s intentional, as you’re unlikely to be able to sum up your message well until you have reached the end.

A subscription to Hiri costs $39 annually. You can also get a lifetime license for $199. Regardless of which plan you get, you will have access to lifetime support and free updates. Hiri is available on multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Spike's homepage

Spike is a conversational email client for Gmail, Outlook, and more (Image credit: Spike)

5. Spike

Email client meets instant messaging

Price: $39 a year or $199 one-time payment | Third-party integrations: Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail, iCloud, Office/Outlook 365, IONOS mail, GoDaddy email, Exchange, AOL, IMAP | Works on: Windows, macOS, Linux

Revolutionary chat-based UI
Advanced search functionality
Encrypted emails
Free plan can be restricting
UI is not for everyone

Spike is a conversational email client. Think WhatsApp, but for Gmail. Its interface strays away from the conventional layout to present emails as speech bubbles similar to those you’d find in an instant messaging app. This helps give conversations a more spontaneous feel, and makes it easy to keep track of long conversational chains. 

If you thought emails were outdated, you’ll feel right at home with Spike. However, if you want to compose a formal email with the service, that’s still very possible. Spike essentially streamlines your interface without sacrificing any important features. However, there are no add-ons to speak of. You also don’t get to customize your user interface with premade themes. 

Spike also comes with a group chat functionality, advanced search, automated rules, and proper end-to-end encryption. All of this is available on the free plan, too. Free plans support chat groups of up to 20 users, whereas paid ones support even more. 

Spike is free for personal use. For users looking for professional features like customizable email signatures, unlimited message history, and more storage space, paid plans start at $4 per month per account on Pro and go up to $40 per month for 10 accounts on Enterprise. Spike is available on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Windows Mail and Calendar app's inbox view

Mail and Calendar is the default email client for Windows 10 (Image credit: Microsoft)

6. Mail and Calendar

Best email client for Windows 10

Price: Free | Third-party integrations: Outlook, Live, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud | Works on: Windows 10

Built-in email client for Windows
Intuitive UI
Unified inbox for multiple email accounts
Completely free
Not fit for business use

Mail and Calendar, previously Outlook Express, is another email client from Microsoft. It’s the company’s solution for home users who don’t require something quite as expensive or as feature-rich as Outlook. If you are a user of Windows 10, you probably use this email client without even knowing, as it automatically adds in your email address the moment you use it to log in to the operating system.

Aside from being able to work with Hotmail, Outlook, and Live, Mail and Calendar can also sync your emails from Gmail, Yahoo, and iCloud. The best part? You can link all your email accounts across multiple services and view them from a unified inbox. This saves time switching between different inboxes, and gives you an overview of all your communications at a glance.

Mail and Calendar features an easy-to-navigate interface with a minimal design. Some interesting features worth mentioning include a large collection of fonts to choose from, the ability to assign a default action to a swipe, and a built-in calendar to manage your entire itinerary. 

Mail and Calendar is a free-to-use email client that’s built into Windows 10. As such, it’s not available on any other platforms and doesn’t require you to pay a subscription fee.

Superhuman's email client demonstrated on an iPhone and iMac

Superhuman is an AI-powered email client for macOS and iOS (Image credit: Superhuman)

7. Superhuman

AI-powered email for Mac users

Price: Free | Third-party integrations: Outlook, Live, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud | Works on: macOS, iOS, Web

Fastest email client around
AI-based important emails filter
Email scheduling and undo send
Only on Mac and iPhone
Works with Gmail only

Superhuman is a free email client for macOS. It bills itself as the fastest email client around, and it may just be right. There are no bloated add-ons here, just a strong collection of built-in features to help enhance your email experience. 

One of these features is the ability to sync analytics from your favorite social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It also sends you follow-up reminders so that you don’t forget to reply to important emails.

There are several other features, such as the ability to snooze your conversations so that you don’t get distracted. Another great feature is the Important Email Filter. Instead of using a spam filter to flag intrusive messages, which can prove really inadequate sometimes, Superhuman uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to highlight valuable conversations so that they get your immediate attention.

There’s also an Undo Send feature similar to Gmail’s. If you act quickly enough, you can recall emails that contain a typo or a mistake without the receiver realizing a thing. You can also schedule emails so that they get delivered at an exact date and time. This is very useful for people who like to compose emails over the weekend and then send them one by one over the next week.  

As we mentioned before, Superhuman is a free email client with no add-ons or plugins. It’s available only on macOS and iOS devices, although other users can make use of its highly intuitive web client to access emails.

Loop Email's homepage

Loop Email is an email client that combines your team’s inboxes into a collaborative hub (Image credit: Loop)

8. Loop

Slack for your inbox

Price: Free/$8.59 per month | Third-party integrations: Outlook, Gmail | Works on: Windows 10, macOS, Android, iOS, Web

Collaborative hub
One inbox for the entire team
Spontaneous messaging
Free plan
No calendar integration

Spike may turn your inbox into WhatsApp, but Loop Email effectively transforms it into Slack. This client is best suited for companies and businesses that like to work collaboratively and spontaneously. Its best feature is the ability to let all team members use a shared inbox for communication.

Loop has other interesting features too, like smart filtering and advanced search. There is a built-in chat functionality so that your team members can always stay connected. Loop even lets you have a bit of fun by adding emojis to your conversations. 

Smart filtering lets you easily assign emails into different categories, whereas advanced search lets you use tags and keywords to quickly resurface the conversations you’re looking for. With Loop, you can sync your emails across different services and accounts and bring them all together in one place, even if there are multiple members on your team using the same hub for communication.

Loop Email is free for individual users. There are three paid plans available. Studio allows up to 10 users and three shared inboxes, and costs $8.59 a month. Business lets you have 11 to 50 users and four to 20 shared inboxes for $14.72 a month. Finally, Enterprise lets you have unlimited users and shared inboxes, so the price varies based on the number of users and inboxes included in the tailored plan.