Which is better: a desktop email client or webmail? Haven’t we heard this question so many times that we are ill at ease whenever it pops up?
We might be, but that doesn’t mean the answer is any easier, not by a long shot. The abundance of clients on both sides is growing by the day, and each and every one of them is more advanced than the previous. It is not difficult to see why, though. Online communication tools have started blending multiple functionalities, including chats, file sharing and social media sharing. With the trend only likely to expand, email clients are doing their best to simplify functionalities while embracing multi-functionality.
For people looking to simply send and receive emails, we’d argue desktop email clients still may be a better solution. They are safer to use, available offline and offer multiple ways to attach files, some of which automatically store them externally, thus allowing for unlimited storage space. Their greatest downside is that they don’t offer the possibility to read incoming messages while offline. On the other hand, they allow for re-reading messages that have already been accessed, unlike webmail. Let’s explore that in a bit more detail.
Desktop Email Clients: Old School Message Handling
Desktop email clients might be the best option for people who use multiple addresses, especially if hosted on different domains. The clients collect all incoming messages in one place and allow the user to respond from respective addresses rather than form a single one. All of that, and in one centralized place. Quite convenient, right?
As stated above, desktop email clients are a great option for people who need to re-read their messages, given that they remain available, even offline, once accessed. To top it off, scheduling also does marvels: emails are seamlessly composed and sent automatically when a device goes online. A number of templates simplify the process further. The best news is that once written, messages remain stored, which means you will never have to write a single message twice.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, unlike webmail, desktop email clients render virtually limitless storage. Namely, they handle attachments twofold: the user may choose to drag the attachment into the email body or upload it to Dropbox (done automatically). In the case of the latter, the recipient will get a download link.
Desktop email clients also come in handy in terms of backing up messages… and not just them. They also allow for backing up addresses, folders and contacts.
Security Comes First
Unlimited storage space aside, desktop email clients are more secure than webmail. They do wonders with encryption. Namely, unlike webmail, which uses third-party services, add-ons or both to encrypt messages, desktop email clients allow the user to maintain control over generation tools and store keys. As such, they are a better solution for people who use public key infrastructure and digital signatures.
Seamless Integration and Superior Attachments
Further out, desktop email clients feature seamless integration, applicable far beyond only messages. Common of those external services include Dropbox, Cloudapp and calendar. That means that instead of attaching a file to a message, desktop email clients users may opt for uploading. The receiver gets a download link and the sender — unlimited storage space.
Being fully operational offline, desktop email clients also feature additional benefits to make certain everything is ready to be dispatched once a device goes online. Among these are email templates, which are easy to use and ensure that everything that has been written is safely stored and automatically sent when an internet connection is up.
Choosing a Desktop Email Client
The offer is diverse and features both free services and paid ones. Paid options are suitable for businesses, as they offer advanced benefits the average user doesn’t necessarily need. MS Office is the most popular paid choice, due to its reputation and year-long market presence. It is closely followed by eM Client and, of late, SeaMonkey.
eM Client keeps to the established simplicity while at the same time bringing together an array of features the user will find hard to replace. For one thing, eM uses a similar template other popular clients do: folders are placed on the left, with contacts, tasks and calendar following right below. It also translates messages into as many as 39 languages. Finally, eM features the famed Deduplicator — the feature that automatically detects duplicate messages, tasks and contacts.
SeaMonkey is a multi-purpose tool, rather than just a desktop email client. It offers some unique and priceless features, such as an IRC chat client, a newsgroup reader and an RSS feed. The service uses Mozilla Firefox source code and is, hence, most similar to Thunderbird.
Speaking of Mozilla Thunderbird, it is a well-known free desktop email client that employs the Gecko engine powering Firefox, meaning it is fully customizable with themes and extensions.
Those mentioned above are only some of the popular choices. When choosing a desktop email client, trust in reliability, deliverability, simplicity and additional features. The needs are as many as the users, hence — each to their own.
As is the case with everything else in life, there is not just one right answer. Both types of services have their notable benefits, as well as downsides; many users choose to use both, depending on the occasion. Still, one thing to keep in mind here is that desktop clients are getting better and more feature-rich by the minute. Take only Thunderbird and Postbox as an example. Both services boast advanced flagging and extended priority features using multiple add-ons such as QuickFolders and QuickFilters.
Lastly, a distinction is in place here. Many people tend to confuse desktop email clients with MS Outlook, which is neither the best nor the most popular choice. A slew of free desktop clients are available for free download, the most popular of which keep getting more features regularly, mirroring users’ feedback. Among the most popular choices are Mozilla Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, Opera Mail, Zimbra Desktop and eM Client.
Emily Woodman – Creative author and long-time digital marketer. Published articles in IcoHolder, CoinSpeaker, SocHealth and many others.