What is an email client and which one should you choose to use?


An email client basically reads your email as it arrives over the internet through your internet provider. It is just another computer program which is often referred to as a mail user agent (MUA) which is used to access and manage your email.

Any system that is capable of accessing a client’s email mailbox is a mail client. Often you hear of webmail and it is just another web application that provides a message management, composition and reception functionality.

Popular locally installed email clients include Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, Pegasus Mail, Mozilla‘s Thunderbird, KMail in the Kontact suite, Evolution and Apple Inc.‘s Mail.

Popular web-based email clients include: Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, mail.com, Lycos mail, and Hotmail.

The tough task comes in choosing the right mail client to suit your personal and business needs. The basic concept is to select a mail client that offers a range of features which suit your needs and make your internet experience with mail a lot easier. It is also important in the business environment to have a function which allows you to organise inbound messages, especially if you get a bunch of them every day.  The idea is to make your mail less labour intensive and to let automatic functions do the tough jobs for you.

There are many ways to decide on which of these mail programs is the one you can use comfortably and easily.  The more complicated they are, the less likely you will be inclined to fiddle and get confused.

Identify the features you need from your email client. Take the time to make a list of the tasks that you perform regularly when using e-mail as a communication tool. Many of the functions will require an attachment of images and documents, or you might want to imbed an image in the body of the mail.  The mail program should allow you to manage folders for the client to receive and send mails from multiple address at one time, or singly. Another tip to watch out for is an e-mail client which has a delivery from a POP3 or IMAP service so you can retain copies of your mail to access from different locations.

Prioritise the features you need according to how frequently you use them and the last feature required should be the one you use only once in a while.

Many of the mail programs offer all of the services required but you need to get an idea of the level of support you can expect.  If you have any issues or something is not working well, you should be able to contact a service and support team by phone, or by e-mail and chat.

Using a spreadsheet to list the services, the support and the features is a good way to make a comparison.  You will probably find that a number of the clients provide all the features but some other may not support them at present.

Unfortunately the best way to find out which mail client is the best is to use it on a daily basis. This could mean you have a few trials and errors but don’t be disheartened as many are standardised and offer even more functions than you will need.

Check out the hosting and mail packages on Imaginet: https://www.imaginet.co.za/product/hosting/starter-hosting.html

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