Wired has warned us about the downfall of desktops and predicted that within two years there would be no such thing as a desktop. It would be a world dominated by smartphones and the web. But our gut tells us something different, it is never going to be a mobile-only world. And even if the total substitution does occur, it is not going to happen any time soon. Larger screens are better – this thought alone tells us why.
Similar is the case with the webmail clients and the desktop email clients. Desktop email clients are like books which give you a feeling of possession unlike the webmail clients which are more like reading online books. The analogy makes sense because the desktop email clients offer an offline experience letting you have all your emails saved forever in your hard disk whereas you can access webmail clients only if you are online and logged in.
There are many more reasons why people may prefer a desktop email client to a webmail client. The most obvious one is the aforementioned offline use. Other than that a native application is capable of providing a native performance which may be better than the online performance. Desktop email clients also offer a variety of plugins and security features that may encourage their users to remain faithful to them. However, not all users are using desktop email clients because it is their personal choice. There may be many who use it because it is the preference of their company.
Whatever be the reason that keeps you interested in desktop email clients, open source is offering an array of software to choose from. Let’s see what open source has in store for you:
Everyone has heard of Mozilla Firefox. Thunderbird too is a project of Mozilla Foundation. It is a cross-platform email client that can be easily installed and customized. It combines speed, privacy and latest technologies to offer a better email experience to its users. To set up Thunderbird, all you need to provide is your name, email ID and password, and then you are ready to go. Once installed, it is possible for you to create personalized email addresses within Thunderbird. Another cool feature is multiple-channel chat for real-time conversation with your contacts. Mozilla Thunderbird also supports searching the web without leaving the email client and search tools within the software. The privacy features include phishing protection. Apart from all these, you can also install featured add-ons like mail merge.
Evolution is the default email and calendar application in GNOME –based distributions like openSUSE, Fedora and Debian. In addition to integrated mail and calendaring, Evolution also offers address book functionality. This open source groupware application makes it easy to connect to Microsoft Exchange servers. It has a user-friendly interface and supports task lists, memos and notes without any need for extensions. Evolution supports S/MIME secure messaging and filters spam using SpamAssassin. It is also customizable although not as much as Thunderbird.
Claws Mail is a GTK+ based email client and news reader. This open source desktop email client has attempted an interface that looks familiar yet the same time, simple. Nonetheless, the interface looks significantly outdated with old-fashioned icons. But it does not provide an easy installation feature despite being functional in other aspects. The standard MH format messages offers fast access and data security. Another notable feature is that you can easily switch to or from Claws Mail because it supports easy importing and exporting of emails from or to other email clients. Claws Mail also supports easy installation and configuration of plugins like RSS aggregator and calendar.
KMail is the default desktop email client or email component of Kontact for the KDE environment. The interface isn’t as user-friendly as Thunderbird or Evolution, but this open source software is still functional and configurable. The main features of KMail include spell-checking, spam checking, powerful search and filter abilities. It also supports import options and provides encrypted password saving in KWallet. KMail shows the sender’s photo if it is present in the address book and supports compression of attachments.
Geary is the new IMAP mail client developed by Yorba for the GNOME desktop. The interface is very simple. It is similar to that of an android app. It offers quick account setup and desktop notification of new mail. It does not support plugins or expansions and does not offer various panes or sidebars. But it is straightforward and gets the job done easily.
The popularity of webmail is undoubtedly untouched by the meager number of users of desktop email clients. The reason seems to be obvious, everyone is doing it and with webmail clients like Gmail, managing emails is easy and fun. But if you are looking for desktop email clients you would definitely have your own reasons and they sure aren’t just ‘easy and fun’. Whatever be the advantage you are interested in, the key to choosing a desktop email client shouldn’t only be looking for the do-it-all software which may give you a headache with all messy and sophisticated features clubbed together.
When it comes to desktop email clients, like any other software – think specialization. Think of the features you need the most and opt a specialized client that offers them. Specialized clients will do what they say and do it efficiently. The choices aren’t limited to the aforementioned five, you can also try other options like Trojitá or GNUMail and see what suits you best. Do you have any software in mind which is your personal favorite? Why not write about it in the comment section below?