Best email clients: Free and paid email software

Credit: ID 83427316 © Pratyaksa |

Email is one of those modern conveniences that can become overwhelming whether you use it for personal or business reasons. Everyone has too much email, and it’s not an easy thing to deal with on a daily basis. 

Being instantly reachable anywhere in the world is in many ways the ultimate form of communication but managing the influx of messages from hundreds of different people, brands, and companies is quite the task – and not all email clients are good at it.

Email has infiltrated our lives and become a place where you’re inundated with greetings, requests, offers, and anything else you can think of to the point where it’s not uncommon to wake up and have hundreds of unread messages.

If that volume of email is unavoidable then you need a decent email client. We’ve picked out our five favourite email clients for Windows and Mac – most are free, while some have paid tier options with a mix of features amongst them to ensure there’s one that’s right for you.

You might think that paying for an email client is a waste of money, but if you are concerned about privacy and advanced features then you might want to consider it.


Credit: Google

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  • PC or Mac
  • Free or paid

Launched in 2004, Google’s world-famous email client is the bedrock of using its free Google account service. 

Accessed via your browser, the software uses a very simple inbox design that presents you with your emails in a clear and easy to read way, with a toolbar on the left and not much else. The latest version integrates other Google apps like Calendar, Keep, and Tasks but you can leave them out the way if you don’t want to use them.

Your inbox can either display every message in one pot or you can let Gmail automatically sort your messages into Primary, Social, and Promotions. This is the best way to use Gmail as it accurately filters your most important messages into Primary, but still lets you receive social media messages and promotions such as retail subscriptions. There’s also a very good spam filter built in that means you never have to sort through junk as it goes straight in the bin.

There’s 15GB free storage that should be more than enough for casual use, but if you’re using Gmail for business you might want to consider paying for a G Suite account. This includes the whole Google array of apps and upgrades Gmail by letting you make your own custom email address, doubles your storage to 30GB, gives you unlimited group email addresses and round the clock technical support.

With a G Suite account, you get better integration with Docs, Sheets, and Slides plus Google Meet, Google’s professional video conferencing service, is built in and syncs well with Gmail.

You can go the free route for sure, but it’s good to know the option is there if you want to pay for more. Prices start at AU$8.40 per month.

Microsoft Outlook

Credit: Microsoft

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  • PC or Mac
  • Free app or paid with Microsoft 365

Microsoft’s fully featured email client can be used as a free app email client to pull in your Gmail mail, for instance, or it can be used as part of a paid Microsoft 365 subscription with your own Outlook email address. 

As a free service, Outlook is an excellent choice if you want granular control over your email with a mobile app that is as good as the desktop version. This is an area where Outlook bests Gmail.

Despite Gmail’s rise, Outlook remains the most popular email client for businesses thanks to its easy integration with other Microsoft services like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, a model Google has tried to recreate. But if companies have used Outlook for years with its Contacts feature, it’s hard to move away. You might be used to it from your current or previous job, and you can easily pick it up for your own personal or business use.

The easiest way to get Outlook is through Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), Microsoft’s paid subscription service. It starts at AU$13 per month, or AU$129 per year and gets you Outlook along with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for PC or Mac. Windows users also get Access and Publisher.

Mail and Calendar

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  • PC only
  • Free with every Windows 10 PC

In an acknowledgement that not everyone needs the comprehensive control over their email that Outlook offers, Microsoft also has the free Mail and Calendar app for Windows 10 that is a much simpler email experience. 

It comes with any Windows 10 PC, so basically any new Windows computer that you can buy today has it free. If you just use email to stay in touch with family and for casual internet use, Mail and Calendar is the perfect, easy going way to do it.

Hotmail, Live, and Outlook addresses are already added if you use them to sign into your PC but you can also use Mail and Calendar as a Yahoo, Gmail, or iCloud client to access multiple email accounts from other providers. 

The calendar part of the app, predictably, integrates the Windows Calendar app closely to help you keep on top of your important dates and events. 

There’s no equivalent mobile app but if email is exclusively a PC thing in your world then you needn’t pay for anything more. 


ThunderbirdCredit: Thunderbird

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  • PC or Mac
  • Free

This free email client from Mozilla, the company behind the excellent Firefox browser, is focused on ease of use. It’s fast and promises the same level of privacy protection that Firefox does, with built-in tracking blockers to stop anyone snooping on you. 

You can sign in with any existing email account to take advantage of Thunderbird’s clean UI, including being able to tab email like a web browser for easier multitasking. The whole programme is highly customisable too so you can tailor it to your specific needs rather than being forced to use it one way. 

Add to that clever quick search options, free archiving and a dark mode and you have a no-frills, privacy-mind, easy to use email client. 


Sign up here

  • PC only
  • Free or paid Pro tier

We’re not sure why there are several bird related email clients, but Mailbird joins Thunderbird in our list as another fine way to sort through your messages – though it’s only for Windows.  

Mailbird Lite is available as a free stripped-down client but we recommend Mailbird Pro in this instance. It costs just AU$2.04 per month or you can pay AU$49.50 for a lifetime subscription. This gets you unlimited email accounts and a plethora of great features, the best of which is app integration. 

Unlike most email clients, Mailbird supports close integration with tons of popular apps like Google Docs, Google Calendar, WhatsApp, Facebook, Slack, and Dropbox, meaning you can treat your email as the centre of your digital life – for many people it probably is that, and Mailbird Pro makes it easier to integrate it with all the other apps you use on the daily.

There’s also a Mailbird Business paid offering that adds email exchange support for large companies.

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Tags Email Software

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By Henry Burrell

PC World
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