Google Apps

Five free Gmail-friendly email desktop clients

If you're looking for user-friendly, Gmail-friendly email desktop client, look no further than any one of these free apps.

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Email is the single most important element of daily work life; without which we would be less-than-efficient. We rely upon email to communicate, send files, schedule, and much more. Every company depends upon different solutions for email - some use Gmail. For those that depend upon Gmail, the browser interface may not be the ideal interface to work with throughout the day. For those wishing to have a more standard email client, you're in luck. I have found five efficient, user-friendly desktop email clients that interact with Gmail.

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.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five apps

1. Geary

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.

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2. GMDesk

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.

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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.

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Also read: Five email clients to help ease you away from Outlook


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.

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5. Thunderbird

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.

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Bottom line

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.

About

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.

20 comments
mfarooqi
mfarooqi

And how can i confirm if all of my email accounts are secured ?... nothing related to my account or history is being saved on "these email client" providers'..?

gmailguru
gmailguru

Check out MxHero Chrome extension - toolbox.mxhero.com .  It's completely free with unlimited messages and a ton of powerful features.  It has a great Read Receipt capability even after the recent Google image changes.

James Stevenson
James Stevenson

I use Thunderbird on my desktop and laptop Linux Xubuntu partitions. I make use of the twitter feed but I'm yet to try the chat features. I have a Gmail account and it works perfectly. I don't use the calendar or docs etc, I just check my mail and that's about it. It does it's job and serves me well.

cbslc
cbslc

I needed something for my 75 YO mom to use. I tried all except Geary. Nothing was as easy for her to use as Outlook. So I forked over the cash to MS and now I don't get nightly tech support calls.

bowlingbrad
bowlingbrad

I thought Thunderbird was not supported any longer.  Has someone taken over?

jnijkerk
jnijkerk

Simply using Thunderbird with the Gmail plugin X-notifier.

 Gmail is only for the 'emergency', I'm not quite in love with spammers. I also use the webmail option or my provider, very convenient.

joelschuster
joelschuster

The most frustrating thing with Gmail is the lack of support for using ECA certificates or digital signatures for signing and encrypting emails. Out of this list of clients, only Thunderbird has that support.

s4b3r6
s4b3r6

I miss Geary since running with Windows as my main platform, but Thunderbird handles anything I throw at it.

sambukado
sambukado

Interesting. Could Thunderbird be used to backup / store locally all the emails from a Google Apps account that will cease to exist shortly afterwards?

johnhb
johnhb

I tried to use Outlook 2007 with my gmail mailbox in the same profile as my main Exchange mailbox. Although I managed to set this up o.k after a bit of research, the collection of mail from the gmail mailbox is problematic and tends to hang up.  Certainly not solid enough to rely on. I have to go back to the browser to check, which is what I was trying to avoid.  Any tips from someone who may have this working well. ?

DAS01
DAS01

Should MS Windows LIve Mail not work?

Reason for not mentioning?

mrdt
mrdt

Thunderbird with the Lightning calendar add-on is by far  the best.

Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com
Knighthawk5193@Yahoo.com

I have been using Thunderbird since version 14....and although it's gone through some tough technical hiccups....it's STILL the grand champion of desktop email clients! I have yahoo.....AOL.....Hotmail.....GMail......and Mail.com emails delivered to my desktop daily, with no problems with login or passwords, and I get the benefit of being able to build my "Spam" list...which automatically throws out anything I mark as Spam once...and REMEMBERS it for the next time!....and finally...the Lightning calendar add-on is superb. It helps me keep track of birthdays, anniversaries, and even when it's time to change my oil!.......form data that I input! If ever I thought there could be an "Outlook Killer" it would be Thunderbird!

extremeskillz
extremeskillz

I used thunderbird as it's the most feature rich. I currenlty have gmail, gcalendar, and gcontacts sycned up to it and have other email accounts added to it.  Thunderbird is very flexible.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Do you use the standard web browser interface for Gmail? I use Outlook myself - I don't like browser email at all. What other email clients have you tried? Any suggestions?

bryce
bryce

@bowlingbrad   techrepublic had a whole article a few months back about how thunderbird was dead - turns out it isn't, just development has slowed but support and security patching is still ongoing.  Only found this out in reading the articles comments recently and someone corrected the misconception, unfortunately not before I had replaced my thunderbird... got it back now and all is good  (although very suspicious and doubting of anything I read here on techrepublic now, there have been other instances of dodgy reporting).

s4b3r6
s4b3r6

@sambukado Thunderbird can download all your emails, but depending on the number, it can take a fairly long time. Once downloaded however, it's in a pretty standard format as a backup.

s4b3r6
s4b3r6

@Mark W. Kaelin Thunderbird is the one I use myself at the moment, the best for handling all my various accounts and domains, as well as social media through some plug-ins. I used Pegasus in the past and loved it, but it has some hassles when it comes to custom domains. On Linux, Kmail and Geary would be my favourites, (though Kmail can be installed on Windows through the KDE Windows Initiative). I've also made use of a few Microsoft clients, live Windows Live Mail, Outlook (express and those bundled through various Office suites), but they've never seemed all that responsive compared to the ones I've already listed.

BRS
BRS

@Mark W. Kaelin I personally choose Thunderbird but also am trying a programme called Pegasus seems reliable but the GUI is not as simple as Thunderbird.  I have linked 2 gmail accounts Calender and a new @outlook.com account.  most important factor is that if computer dies all mailboxes and addresses backed up on Gmail.com