Gmail outlook settingsMicrosoft Outlook is the most popular email application in the world. It can handle your email, manage your contacts and work as a personal task manager. It even integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Though it is simple to learn how to use Microsoft Outlook, it isn’t exactly what you could call cheap – it costs about $150 for the single user version. It doesn’t make sense to spend that kind of money for an email application if you’re running a small business, or if you need one for personal use. There are several great Outlook alternatives out there that are much cheaper (or even free) and similar in functionality.

Here are the most promising Outlook alternatives we found after scouring the internet.

Mozilla Thunderbird

The Mozilla Thunderbird is an open-source email application that you can download for free. It has been one of the most popular alternatives to Outlook for several years now. Thunderbird is a somewhat stripped down version of Outlook, but it can be personalized to almost exactly mimic it. Because Thunderbird is open source, people have created several “add-ons” over the years for it. For example, Thunderbird doesn’t have a native calendar, but you can integrate the Lightning calendar with it.

Thunderbird lets you create personalized email addresses, like – all you have to do is sign up for a new email address with the app. Thunderbird integrates with Mozilla Firefox, so you can search and surf the web from within the application itself. You can open multiple tabs to read multiple email messages too. Thunderbird can also be customized with “skins”- which are themes that range from tattoos to nature to famous landmarks.

The application is pretty efficient at handling your email and storing contacts. It has a smart classification and folder management system. It can connect to an Exchange server, just like Outlook. It can also be integrated with Facebook and other social media services. It’s perfect for a small business and for personal use too. Best of all, it’s completely free!

Claws Mail

This is one of the fastest and lightest email apps out there. It’s not short on features either. The Claws mail app lets you create multiple email accounts and handle them from within the app. It has a handy auto mail checking feature that can keep your inbox from getting flooded. It includes an auto spell checker. It will also save your messages periodically as you compose them. You can quickly search for an important message with the Quick Search feature the app offers. There’s also support for image viewing from within the app, and for opening web URLs too.

Claws Mail will give you everything that you could want from an email application. You can also install additional features by downloading plug-ins. For example, the Bogofilter plug-in can keep spam away by scanning incoming email and deleting email categorized as spam. It can also save such email to a folder. The Trayicon plugin puts an icon in the system tray that notifies you whenever you get new email. You can browse the internet with it by integrating it with Dilo (a safe and secure browser).


The IncrediMail app is great for home users because it is casual, friendly and has some rich themes. The basic application is vibrant, customizable, content-rich and can be downloaded for free. IncrediMail premium offers additional features (which you’re unlikely to need if you’re a typical email user) and can be downloaded for $25.

IncrediMail lets you add a personalized touch to your emails by making them livelier. You can make your messages stand out by adding emoticons (1000+), animations and writing emails on beautiful email backgrounds.  You can even send e-cards on special occasions, like Christmas or on a loved one’s birthday. IncrediMail has a very friendly user interface and it is has interactive graphics that are activated whenever you send an email or receive one. You can use IncrediMail with all major webmail services.

You can use IncrediMail for business use too by sending regular messages. It has all the features you could ever need, like a message notifier and multimedia viewer. An alternative to IncrediMail, called Molto, can be downloaded to your iOS or Android device too.

Opera Mail

If you’re looking for a simple email client, then Opera Mail might be right for you. Opera Mail is lightweight and customizable. It lets you sort your messages quickly and effectively with color coded labels. You can open multiple emails at one time in different tabs. Opera Mail also features threaded emails, which let you look at older messages and respond to them easily. It also integrates a news client that connects to Usenet. Opera can also display HTML emails.

Opera Mail has all the standard features that are present in an email application. However, it doesn’t have all the features that Outlook does. Get this if you need an email client that is simple, fast and reliable.

The Mail App in Windows 8/ Windows Live Mail in Windows 7 by Microsoft

The Mail App in Windows 8 and the Windows Live Mail in Windows 7 are email applications that are free for download if you are using a Windows bases system. The Mail App works on Windows 8, while Windows Live Mail works on Windows 7.

These email applications offer the bulk of the features that Outlook does – except they’re free! They include a calendar feature, photo viewer and message organizer. They integrate with all the major webmail services like Yahoo, Google and AOL. You can access your emails when you’re offline (just like Outlook).

What Outlook Alternative Should you Get?

If you’re looking for a friendly email application, go for IncrediMail. If you need an Outlook clone, Thunderbird is your best bet. If you’re okay with using a scaled down version of Outlook, you can use the default Windows mail applications. And, finally, if you’re looking for simple, lightweight email applications, you can go either for Opera Mail or for Claws Mail.

Of course, irrespective of which application you use, with the surge in digital communication, email management can get overwhelming. You can check out our course on effective ways to control email. And remember basic email etiquette, especially for business communication. You don’t want to be the one causing the email overwhelm!

Microsoft Outlook students also learn

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