Biz Features

Email Client Alternatives for the Alternative Mind (Windows Cool Kids Edition)

by . July 29th, 2014

Years ago, I enjoyed hyper-customizing my Mac to make things work better for me. I tried every type of widget, searched obscure apps, and scouted minimalmac like a hawk. Some of them still stick today and some aren’t available anymore due to the differences in OSX Mavericks and the indifference of the developer. One app that I still use today is Sparrow, which is an extremely minimalist mail client for the Mac and iOS.

Now you can imagine my stress when I had to use Microsoft Outlook. It does its job, but the design sense and philosophy are just completely opposite of that of Sparrow.

So I did the same thing as years ago. I searched for alternative mail clients, but with Windows in mind. To my surprise and curiosity, I discovered that people tend to be more creative with lists of Mac clients rather than PC clients. I got tons of results that said the same thing: Outlook, Firebird, Opera, and Gmail. Even though they have unique features and other differences, they just seemed too similar. It was as if I went to a zoo and all I saw were 100 breeds of closely-related goat. Nothing stood out. So I decided to come up with a list of my own.

DISCLAIMER: As small as this list is, it was extremely hard to make it due to the standards I set on it, which at first, I thought weren’t heavy at all. I went through more than 20 possible features. For a client to make it into this list, it had to have an update within the past 12 months , have a good website (which means it didn’t look like terrorists made it in the 90s and that it was easy to navigate), and had to have really good UX (which is user interface mixed with human psychology). Apparently, these are things that developers don’t really think about when developing for Windows email clients. This really sucks. Anyway, here goes. I’ll try to keep this post as meaty for you guys as possible. Unless you’re vegan, then it’s soy-meaty.

eM Client: Like traditional email clients, but clean and modern!

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Almost every email client follows the same formula. Toolbar on top, folders, tags, and lists on the left, and messages to the right. It’s the reason why a lot of clients didn’t make the list. Some knew this monotony so much, that they didn’t include screenshots on their site.

eM Client shares this stereotypical interface but does it so much better. Look at that screen shot. This software looks amazingly clean and crisp from the colours, to the fonts, to spacings. It reminds me of Google Mail’s younger sibling, if it had a younger sibling. Normally, I’d call the interface cluttered, but since it’s a more organised version of what everyone is used to, I won’t complain about that. My only issue is that the icons in the toolbar look like the ones you saw in the early days of Windows XP.

But don’t think I’m featuring this FREE bad boy on looks alone. This email client has muscle to boot. It packs a ton of unique features including touch support for touch-enabled laptops and hybrids, a built in email translator powered by Bing, a chat system with file-transfering, and easy imports from other email clients. It seems that the developers understand that email clients cannot stay just as they are in this day and age, and must develop with how people use the rest of the internet. If you’re a clean freak, you also have the option to auto-archive old mail so your list doesn’t get cluttered.

Now, there is a free version, and a premium version. The biggest difference between the two (other than the obvious favouritism in customer support) is that the free version only allows us to use two email accounts. Depending on how much you connect with eM Client, this may be reason enough to overlook the $50 price tag. After all, how much emails do you manage being an entrepreneur?

Postbox: Stay social and relevant by being fast and efficient.

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For an app to have “box” in its name, Postbox seems to really… think out of the box! This app looks quite different from other email clients, but seems to have purpose behind each and every change.

It has a conversation view to show mail as if they were messages through Skype or some other chat service. This conversation view then connects amazingly to the tagging system so if you tag an email to or from your wife, Postbox will know. Quick reply is also a great way to follow back if you don’t need all the formatting options, and a dropbox link feature allows you to send mail without attaching ginormous photos of that last work party. Emails can easily convert to Evernote files, or social media posts (Be careful with this one. lol.)

If you want your email client to stay social, this is the app for you for $10.

Inky: The leopard seal of email clients.

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You stare at it from afar and it looks adorable with it’s sleepy eyes and derpy half-smile. The sleek soft fur and awkward waddling lure you in. As you go closer to pet it, it drags you to the icy sea where you inevitably meet your demise by this cute, floppy beast of destruction.

This is Inky. The logo is adorable as well, but that better be a dangerous blue-ringed octopus, because this app packs a wallop. The interface might look simple at first view, but when you take a closer look, you realise all the amazing features in this Swiss knife from automatic tagging from social, personal, and marketing posts to filters for just about everything including relevance. You’re reading right. This app can guess which posts are relevant to you and recommend you which mails to read first, making sure you do not waste your time.

Other cool features include smart sending, which not only sends the right email from the right account, but also suggests CCs for people you usually incorporate with your desired recipient. Lost a persons address in a pile of email? Inky’s got that handled too by organising all emails with addresses in a smart folder. Same thing for emails you sent yourself as reminders. I guess this app takes care of your old habits as well.

 

That’s all. Told you it was short.

Only three apps made the list. I don’t know about you, but this tells me that app designers better give Windows email clients a break. I’m sure it’s not only Mac people that want pretty and visionary apps.

photo credits: Rene Schlegel

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