Digital Dominance: Goals
E3 Thought Translator

Seeking New Mail Client

Can anyone recommend a mail client for use under Windows XP?

I still use the aging Outlook Express as my mail client, largely because I’ve been unable to find anything better. I did try Thunderbird the other year, but found it had no significant advantages over OE, and a lot of clunky new problems.

The main factor pushing for change is that when I’m travelling, transferring mail from my desktop to my laptop is very difficult – even with a tool expressly designed for the job. In particular, mail rules (which OE stores in the registry) do not transfer well. Webmail is impractical for the volume and diversity of email I handle (e.g. sometimes I get 5,000+ survey data emails in a week), so it will need to be a POP3 client.

Here’s my “wish list” for a new mail client:

  • Lightweight code – quick to start, little to go wrong.
  • Easy filtering – ideally, I’d like to drag an email into a folder and have the client learn that I want emails from that contact to go into that folder. Failing that, to be able to easily compile lists of contacts that filter into a particular folder. But most importantly, all this information has to export easily for when I transfer to my laptop.
  • Effortless export – as I say, I need to switch from desktop to laptop without losing any data.
  • Secure – I have to protect non-disclosure agreements with commercial clients, so I need software I can trust.
  • No fluff – I want a mail client to sort and read mail; I’m not looking for software that tries to take over my desk diary’s job.

Any suggestions?

Update: following a demonstration of Gmail by Peter, I'm now much more confident that this is a sensible step for me to take. I'm going to experiment with Gmail while I'm on the road in July and if it works out I'll ditch Outlook Express when I return. Thanks to everyone for their assistance!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I usually use webmail, so I cannot give you an advise from my own experience, but here is a comparative list of five different email clients:

You might find something interesting here.


Thanks VagabondX, but I think I need an actual recommendation from someone who uses the clients - it's so time consuming trying to "test drive" an unknown client! :)

Do you absolutely need a client on your computer?

Gmail seems to do 1,2,3 and 5 pretty well, while arguably removing the need for 3.

The question of course, is 4: can you trust them? I don't use "Gmail for Business" (the product), but I'd trust it more than the regular free e-mail service.

I'd second that suggestion, actually. I switched from programs to Gmail years ago as a mail client, and I have no complaints.

Clayton, Mory: It seems to me that I *do* need a client on my computer, largely because of the survey data emails. I get (say) 5,000 of these a week, and trying to download these off of Gmail seems like it would be very difficult.

I also worry for my business communications that it wouldn't be secure enough. :(

I appreciate the input, though!

Unless you are using something like PGP you can pretty much forget "secure" in respect of email however you do it.

The GMail web interface is pretty good, generally good enough for me although I am trying out a native app (Sparrow) that uses GMail via IMAP. Probably I will end up back in the browser.

With respect to downloading survey data I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a tool to automate that for you and (if they're CSV or some such) maybe even load them right into a database.


Matt: I think, because of the way everything is set up right now, I'm stuck with my current arrangement for the time being, at least until I decide to discontinue BrainHex. I've just hit 75,000 responses... I don't really want to stop before 100,000. On the other hand, this is the main thing tying me to an offline client at the moment.

That said, my spam volume is so horrendous I have to use Mailwasher as a gatekeeper before collecting my email properly. If I was move to Gmail, I might be tempted to start a new email address at the same time...

Cheers for the input!

Chris: I don't know how you've dealt with those 75,000 emails but what I was getting at is that Gmail is accessible via both POP3 and IMAP.

There are tools around that can download attachments from IMAP so you could script something to filter those emails and automatically download the data. That might still be a win for another 25,000 responses depending on how much manual labour is involved right now.

On the spam point I see maybe 3-4 spam emails a month in Gmail (of the copious volumes that arrive). Occasionally the spammers come up with a new trick and that volume might double or quadruple for a week or so.

And I've had the same email address for I don't know how many years now and never tried to protect it. I get more spam from LinkedIn requests than email spam.


Matt: thanks for the additional information! If I can get to Gmail over POP that's a lot more appealing! So I'd have a webmail interface for when I'm on the road, and a client for stuff like the surveys...

I presume I can use my existing email addresses on Gmail?

I might look at making an experimental change after I get back from my back-to-back conferences in July...


The way I used it at first (I've changed my setup since) is to use Gmail as a POP3 client for my usual account. I don't think relying on a Gmail account (as opposed to what you already have is necessary. You can use another mail client as well, just so long as you set it to not remove the e-mails from the server. But then I guess the server would clog up. I don't know.

Mory: thanks for the continued input. I'm weighing up my options right now... I think the conclusion I'm coming to is that it might be time for a new email address anyway - but this would mean reprinting my business cards, which I don't want or need to do yet. Perhaps I should try and spin this out a little longer before making a change.

Update: following a demonstration of Gmail by Peter, I'm now much more confident that this is a sensible step for me to take. I'm going to experiment with Gmail while I'm on the road in July and if it works out I'll ditch Outlook Express when I return. Thanks to everyone for their assistance!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)