What do you use to read your email?

paper planes
Image by opensource.com
submit to reddit
(7 votes)
What do you use for your primary email client?
Apple Mail
4.6% (43 votes)
29.2% (276 votes)
8.8% (83 votes)
Pine, Mutt, Elm, etc.
4.9% (46 votes)
39.5% (373 votes)
1.7% (16 votes)
0.5% (5 votes)
Other (add to the comments)
10.9% (103 votes)

Email. The communication tool we love to hate. Personally, I'm trying to reduce the amount of email I get. I've switched most of my mailing lists to digest. And #noemail is an option I can only dream of at this point.

I remember the first email client I used, Zmail. It was pretty basic. Then I used Netscape Navigator until it changed to Thunderbird. Some folks are shocked when I tell them that I've never used Outlook. Ever. Probably never will.

Which brings us to our question: What do you use for your primary email client? While our poll isn't scientific, it'll be fun to see what our community uses.

And if you'd like to reminisce about past email clients, share your story in the comments. What email clients did you use back in the day? I won't even ask about top posting versus bottom posting.

Creative Commons License


robinmuilwijk's picture
Open Source Sensei

Thunderbird is the client I use, but I also use Gmail (web) too. I used Outlook Express in my early 'online' days. I don't think I'm ready, or want to go for #noemail. I like the combination of mail, Twitter and IM to communicate online.

(Tech detail: I use Thunderbird to Sync Gmail, to keep a full local backup just in case)

Flo's picture

Waiting For Mega Encrypted Mail.Sick Of Private Corporations Stealing My Identity -__-

bbehrens's picture
Open Source Sensei

My university still supports Pine—which I can launch remotely via SSH—and for that I am eternally grateful. No other client lets me plow so effortlessly through the dozens of mailing list items I receive each day.

pjones's picture
Open Minded

I have heard of this email in the distant past. Wasn't it something that was inflicted on people living in the last 20th Century? (Pine Is Not Elm sounds familiar vaguely) Personal communications should be mobile, terse, interactive and collaborative (at least) email is none of those. #noemail offers you an opportunity to communicate in new and better ways -- all email clients are at bottom email clients -- and that's not a good thing.

Matt Micene's picture
Open Enthusiast

Isn't the email problem a training problem not a tool problem? Dropping attachments is a tool choice. Everything else is how people use the tools that we assume they know how to use to properly communicate. Everyone scoffs at the classes but it isn't intuitive. And lack of understanding leads to misuse.

I do agree that email is not about knowledge, but it never was. It's about communication, which is applied knowledge in context. Email has an expiration date, unlike SarbOx requires us to do in corporate environments.

dragonbite's picture
Open Minded

At work I don't have much of a choice, I have to use Outlook. It isn't bad, and there are a number of features I do like about it when connected to an Exchange server. When not connected to an Exchange server (e.g. via IMAP), then those benefits are reduced.

For my personal emails, I use the web interface because it is consistent whether I am checking at work in the browser, at home or even on the Chromebook.

It also means that I am not tethered to a specific system or OS to feel like I have all of the benefits there is to offer. (e.g. if I like a particular view, I need to set that to all of the email clients on each of my systems to be consistant).

I also find the web interface to be faster and well integrated with calendars, contacts and more. At home I have a slow Internet connection and in the browser the emails are just links until I click on them. I do not have to wait for them to download before viewing them or their attachments.

What I wonder is when somebody will come out with a web-based interface which you can connect to multiple web-based email services and have the consistency of webmail with the possible additional features like a client.

chrisod's picture
Open Enthusiast

I've flirted with various non Gmail options, and it is on my todo list to migrate off of Gmail for good. But for now, I'm still there. I would like to just use my domain host's email service, but it doesn't offer near enough storage. I need to pick a paid email hosting provider and just do it.

JRepin's picture
Open Enthusiast

I'm a heavy e-mail user and I use KDE's Kontact (KMail). I use it with several IMAP and POP3 account and find it to be the most powerful e-mail client for my needs. I even have it installed on my Windows machine at work.

KDE contributor

ts's picture

+1 for KMail

Ricardo J. Barberis's picture

Another +1 to kmail.
Though, it made me addicted to single-key shortcuts :)

simon2222's picture


because i'm to lazy to install imap-ssl

pjones's picture
Open Minded

You can and should participate in the 3rd International No Email Day. Start by not doing email on Sunday March 3rd -- 3/3/13.

Watch Luis Suarez (5 years noemail at IBM), Paul Lancaster (NoEmailDay at Sage UK) and me (2 years w/o email) talk about NoEmailDay here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dRX2zGdpWEg

And read Paul Lancaster's original NoEmailDay slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/lordlancaster/no-email-day-by-paul-lancaster

mfidelman's picture
Open Minded

SeaMonkey (the modern version of the old integrated Mozilla). It's NICE to have email and a web browser tightly integrated (and a web page composer for that matter).

Peter Santavy's picture

Evolution and GroupWise

Malte Neubecker's picture

For the job: Outlook

jboris's picture

At work I am locked in to our corporate email client. For my personal email I use Eudora. It used to be owned by Qualcomm but I believe Mozilla now has it. I have stayed with this for years as it works for me and has survived all of my OS upgrades. (Going as far back as Windows for Workgroups.) It handles multiple email accounts, Junk Mail and filters just fine for me. I know I will have to give it up one day. The new version I tried and don't like it.

Brian Masinick's picture

+1 for Seamonkey; I generally use the Seamonkey Nightly Internet Suite, and I use it both for Email and for Web browsing. My two main Email sources are Yahoo Mail and Google GMail, both of which can be read via the Web or through an Email client. Sometimes I use a Web browser; I use Seamonkey Mail when I want to retain certain correspondence for my records and retention.

I started using Email regularly back in the 1980s. I used my first Internet-based communication, the Usenet, around the same time.

During the 1990s when I was working in a UNIX development group, I found a very nice graphical Email system that used the TCL/Tk script tool writing language to create a really useful Email system. Called exmh, it was based on the Rand Mail Handler, mh. I'd still use it if I were in a similar environment.

DrBill's picture


Dr. Bill Bailey
Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

RC's picture

Seamonkey. Thunderbird has screwed up my mailboxes too many times. So far so good with seamonkey.

Brian Masinick's picture

Yes, Seamonkey is solid; even in the Nightly Build, it rarely acts up. In released versions, it is the most solid GUI-based Email client I've used that can run on as many platforms as it does. I've used it on UNIX, BSD, Linux, and Windows platforms and it works the same way - reliably - on all of them.

Bart Schaefer's picture

Not that I'm expecting this to produce a flood of interest, but you can download the Z-Mail source to build on Linux:

jhibbets's picture
Open Source Sensei

OK - I might just have to do this for good times sake!

John A. Ward's picture


Jef Poskanzer's picture

I use MH!

Kevin's picture

My email history is mail -> zmail -> ishmail -> claws.
I tried various modern clients (kmail, evolution, thunderbird, etc...) and they were all like elephants stuck in the mud compared to claws.

Mike Colligan's picture

(personal) gmail<->Evolution<->Exchange (work)

Claire Connelly's picture

I use nmh, usually with mh-e in Emacs, but also on the command line.

I've tried a lot of other clients, and there's just nothing that comes close to giving me the control I get with MH.

Brian Masinick's picture

Interesting that you mention NMH, GNU Emacs with mh-e, and overall, the control of MH.

What really sold me on MH-based Email handling were the notions that a file (numbered messages) represent an Email message and a directory represents an Email folder. That makes it possible to use an Email filtering tool to read Email in, file it in various folders, and use color coded exmh to read it, but it also allows you to manipulate it with mh-e, Emacs style, use other Emacs mailers as well, or even to use cat, more, less, or most to read Email! To me, that's powerful and versatile. MH-based Email handlers, to this day, are the best, but hard to find in some circles, so unless you can maintain your own system, that may be their one drawback.

Howard Bingham's picture

Eudora V is preferred Windows XP reader, also used for Windows 7 as I prefer POP3 mail readers, as the messages are stored on MY computer, rather than risky web sites

Steve's picture

For personal use SquirrelMail
Work ties us to Outlook

Gary E Rudy's picture

Eudora No contest. I've tried many others over the years, including a very, heartfelt attempt at using Eudora OSE, but I'm sorry. Not casting stones, but boy is that thing a mess. I even prefer Eudora on Linux under Wine to any native client. I really wish they had handled the transition to open source better.

I also daily use GMail, and run SquirrelMail on my servers. And yes, I run my own servers. Have done since RH5. Oh, and of course mailx from the shell.

In the early days before inet it was Blue Wave and the simple local mail program under Cromemco CROMIX.

Power user's picture

Eudora on MacOSX. Nothing else I've used even comes close to being this powerful at filtering and automating replies.

Now that I read these comments, though, I may try SeaMonkey, since Eudora is abandonware.

It's important to have mailboxes in standard format that can be read by text editors when you're in it for the long haul.

Jo3's picture


Serge Stroobandt's picture

I totally agree with the fact that -in and outside companies- e-mail gets abused as a tool for pushing unsolicited information. Much time is lost cataloging these context-less bits of information that are constantly trickling down from the e-mail funnel.

In my setup, e-mail arrives on a server in the cloud. However, when I access my local Dovecot IMAP server, it triggers getmail to retrieve the e-mail from the cloud server and a Sieve filter script will read and sort the messages to my local IMAP folders. The centrally stored Sieve filter rules can at anytime and from anywhere be adapted from within my Thunderbird e-mail client, thanks to the dovecot-managesieved daemon on the server and this great Thunderbird Sieve add-on.

Doing so coverts most of the e-mail messages that are pushed onto me into pull when-you-like information. In conclusion, the tools are out there, it is only a pity some effort is required to get it up running.