No more will you have to depend upon a browser-only interaction with your email account. Let's take a look at these five clients and see if any of them can stand up to your demands. Each of them offers a different feature set; but all of them tackle the most important task – email.
Geary is the one Linux-only client on the list. It's written in Vala and intended for seamless integration into the GNOME desktop. It's about as simple as it gets - open it up and use your Gmail account. There are few bells and whistles to this take on the desktop Gmail client. The Geary interface is based on conversations, which makes reading an entire discussion quite simple. Setting up Geary is as simple as adding your Gmail address and password. Once you've done that, Geary will very quickly draw in your email so you can begin reading within seconds. Geary does allow you to mark conversations, add labels, archive emails, view inline and attached images, search, and more. Geary is free and can be installed from source or from your package manager.
GMDesk is built upon the Adobe Air runtime environment. Although GMDesk hasn't been in development for quite some time, it still works and works well. With this Air-based application you get access to all of the Gmail features, including Calendar, Drive, and more. Each app will open as a stand-alone application and can be closed as such. There is zero configuration necessary - just enter your Gmail credentials and go. You can also connect GMDesk to your Google Apps account instead of the standard Google services. You can select your preferred start-up service, and even switch between Google services within a single window.
3. eM Client
eM Client offers Gmail synchronization built in. This particular solution is more of a traditional email client. In fact, you might find it similar to that of Outlook - only geared toward Gmail. With eM Client you can work with your email, calendar, tasks, and contacts. You do miss out on Google Drive - but that's not really the purpose of an email client anyway. Em Client also has a built in tool to connect with your colleagues using Gtalk. The one caveat to using eM Client is that, in order to get it for free, you must register. The free license is intended for non-commercial use and does not offer any support. If you want the Pro version, you'll have to shell out $49.95 USD.
4. Gmail by Pokki
Gmail by Pokki is another simple to use desktop app for your Gmail account that offers up friendly notifications from within the Windows system tray. With this free app you can: View and save attachments, set label notifications, create customized tabs, chat, turn any conversation into a video call with up to ten friends, establish a theme, and more. The one thing to be aware of is that Pokki is an entire app store on its own. So when you download Gmail by Pokki, you are installing their app store. It is quite unobtrusive and can be easily avoided. Getting to the settings requires a right-click of the Pokki "menu" button in the task bar.
Thunderbird is just as capable of dealing with Gmail as any other client. Set up of your Gmail account on Thunderbird is quite simple - no need to know the Gmail server addresses (just create a new account, add your Gmail credentials and let Thunderbird handle the rest. You won't gain access to your Calendar, contacts, tasks, labels, or any of the other Gmail features, but you will have a very powerful email client at your disposal. You can, of course, add the Lightning addon and have it connect to your Gmail Calendar. Thunderbird is a great cross-platform solution (Windows, Linux, Mac) for those looking for a Gmail desktop client.
If you're looking for user- Gmail-friendly desktop client, look no further than any one of these apps. Although not every app offers the entire range of features as found in the browser-based solution, each of them offers everything you need to access the basics of your Gmail account. Give one of these desktop clients a try and see if it doesn't wean you from your browser.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.