How to Find the Best Free Email Service in 2020

Posted by Christin on August 11, 2020

How to find the best free email service
Christin

Christin
Marketing Manager

PR & Media Relations Supporting the team by communicating Mailbird and its great features to existing and potential users and media.

Published on August 11, 2020

If you were to look through your personal contact list right now, it’s probably safe to say that the majority of your contacts will have an email address from one of two services: Google’s Gmail (@gmail.com) or Microsoft’s Outlook.com free email (@outlook.com). This is unsurprising, considering Gmail holds15.8% (and Outlook.com 6.7%) of the email client market share. Both of these free email services are backed by tech giants — Google and Microsoft — and have become top contenders when choosing the best free email service for your personal or small business email needs.

But with the two constantly neck and neck in the email race, how do you decide which one is best for you? And that’s not taking into account all the other free services available.

What Are the Best Free Email Service Providers?

Some of the best webmail email services are:

  • Gmail
  • Outlook
  • ProtonMail
  • iCloud Mail
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • AOL Mail
  • GMX
  • Yandex

But for the purposes of this article, let’s go into a detailed Gmail and Outlook.com review only.

What to Consider When Choosing Outlook or Gmail

Google’s Gmail service is the older and most popular of the two. Because it’s been around longer and has a bigger audience, Gmail is generally considered the industry leader in free email services. Microsoft, on the other hand, launched the free version of Outlook.com in 2012 and has been refining the service ever since.

On the surface, Gmail and Outlook.com’s free email services seem pretty similar. It’s only when you look at the details that you discover just how much the two differ. It’s in these details that you’ll find the features that matter most to you to help you choose the right option for your personal or small business. So, let’s uncover some of those differences in the following sections.

1. Gmail vs Outlook — Storage

Storage is a big difference between the two services. Gmail allows up to 15 GB, but this includes storage for ALL Google services, such as Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. When you take into account syncing across all devices, that 15 GB can fill up fast. However, to expand your storage capacity, you are able to purchase more space.

Outlook.com, on the other hand, allows 5 GB of storage at the start but will increase this amount to accommodate your needs. It’s unclear how this works exactly, but it could be a sticking point for someone who needs to archive a lot of files, attachments, or emails.

The bottom line? Gmail’s storage capacity is much larger than Outlook.com, though this only matters if you plan to store a lot of information.

2. Gmail vs Outlook — Ads

Another big difference between the two services is how they treat advertisements in your mailbox. Gmail ads look like emails at the top of your “Promotions” inbox. Though they are labeled with a yellow box that says “Ad,” this can be deceiving. You can easily avoid ads by disabling the “Promotions” tab or disabling the tabbed inbox altogether.

Gmail’s promotion tab

Outlook.com ads are displayed to the right of the page and take up a significant amount of real estate in your browser window—almost one-fourth of the page. This can be a nuisance for people who want a streamlined user experience. The only way to remove Outlook.com ads is by paying $20/year for an ad-free experience, although Microsoft states that by purchasing this version, your emails won’t be scanned for ad targeting.

The bottom line? Gmail’s ads take up less space but aim to trick you into clicking. Outlook’s ads are obvious but detract from the overall user experience.

3. Outlook.com vs. Gmail —  Security

Gmail and Outlook.com are well matched on security features. Both include a two-step verification process (where you’re required to verify your identity on a new device) and automatic spam detection. Gmail pushes spam emails to a junk folder, while Outlook.com puts a red or yellow safety bar at the top of suspected spam emails. Outlook.com will also move possible junk email to a junk folder.

The bottom line? Gmail and Outlook.com are equally secure.

4. Contact Management

Contact management is hugely important to us at Mailbird. We know it’s crucial to managing your personal and business conversations, so of course we looked at how well Gmail and Outlook.com help you manage your contacts.

When it comes to building your contact list, Gmail allows you to input contacts from Yahoo, Outlook.com, AOL, Google+, and more, as well as import via a CSV or vCard file. Outlook.com also lets you import contacts from Gmail, older versions of Outlook.com, Yahoo, or Windows Live Mail.

The bottom line? With added file import capabilities, Gmail is slightly more user-friendly than Outlook.com when it comes to contact management.

5. Extras/Add Ons

If you’re looking for ways to power up your inbox, Outlook.com is a clear winner in this category. In addition to calendar syncing, tasks, and custom themes, Outlook.com has over 100 add-ins available to really advance your email capabilities.

Some examples include the Boomerang add-in, which allows you to add a reminder to come back to your email in a few hours or days. There’s also the Evernote add-in, which allows you to save an email to a notebook. You can even link your email to Uber, Skype for video calls, and more.

Outlook.com add-in menu

Gmail isn’t quite as equipped as Outlook.com in the extras category. You do have the basics — linking to Google Calendar, tasks, and custom themes — but the Gmail plug-in library is limited in comparison. The one shining difference for Gmail is the automatic filing system and tabbed inbox.

This feature pushes certain emails to different inboxes: Priority for the most important emails based on what you open and send, Promotions for newsletters and offers, Social for emails from social media sites, and Updates for bills and other confirmations. You can turn this feature on and off as you like.

The bottom line? Outlook.com is the best email service for add-on capabilities, which definitely outshine Gmail, but Gmail’s segmented inboxes are an awesome added feature that puts it on par with the Microsoft free email service.

6. Other Tools

Finally, there are a few other tools worth noting for each email service that could sway your decision on which to use. First, a Gmail account is also a Google account, which gives you access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Photos, Forms, Drawings, and Calendar, which all sync across devices. You’ll have access to a full suite of new tools to empower more than just your email communications.

Outlook.com has a similar set of tools through OneDrive, which includes an online version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You also get access to Sway and Docs.com. Because Microsoft office programs tend to be the industry standard and you can edit documents right in the web-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, this is a hugely beneficial feature of the Outlook.com service.

The bottom line? Both email services have powerful suites of tools that go beyond email.

7. Managing Emails: Online & Offline

Now that you’ve (hopefully) chosen a free, web-based email service, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to manage your inbox. How will you ensure emails sent to your old email address make it to your new one? And how will you manage these emails? What if you have multiple email addresses? Luckily, we’ve got the answer!

Online: Email Forwarding

If you want to continue using the web-based version of either Gmail or Outlook.com, you can set up email forwarding to automatically send emails from one account to another. For example, if you previously had a Gmail account, you would simply set up email forwarding in your Gmail account to send emails to your new Outlook.com account… or vice versa. This would also work if you were previously using any other account, such as Yahoo or Windows Live Mail.

If you are canceling an old email address, it might also be smart to enable an auto-reply on your old email address, notifying senders of your new email address and indicating a date when that old email will officially be deleted. This will ensure your contacts have your new email address and won’t be thrown off by the change.

Offline: Desktop Email Clients

While email forwarding works well for the web-based versions of email clients, what if you want to access your email offline? Or what if you have multiple email accounts you’d like to manage from one source? That’s where desktop email clients, such as Mailbird for Windows or Airmail for Mac, come in handy.

Unified Inbox with WhatsApp integration in Mailbird

Mailbird even has a really cool feature called the Unified Inbox, where you can view emails from several different accounts in the same inbox. This feature allows you to consolidate emails into one well-managed inbox with all your folders and contacts synced. You can also reply from different accounts, whereas with email forwarding all replies come from the master account. It’s especially helpful if you’re trying to manage accounts for different purposes, such as work and email.

The Best Way to Manage All Your Email Accounts in One Place

Try Mailbird for Free

Conclusion

Choosing the best free email service can be challenging. You need something that is user-friendly, reliable, and provides all the features you need to stay on top of that ever-flowing river of emails. Between Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com, you’re in good hands — either option comes packed with great features and will get the job done. The one you choose will depend on your preference in storage capacity, advertisement display, and extra add-ons.

Let us know which one you chose — and why — in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness

What is the best free email account?

You can create a free account in one of these email services:
• Gmail
• Outlook
• ProtonMail
• iCloud Mail
• Yahoo! Mail
• AOL Mail
• GMX
• Yandex

What is the most secure free email provider in 2020?

The most secure email providers in 2020 are:
• ProtonMail
• CounterMail
• Hushmail
• Runbox
• Tutanota
• Posteo
• Kolab Now
• Mailfence

What is the best email service in 2020?

The best free email services in 2020 are:
• Gmail
• Outlook
• ProtonMail
• iCloud Mail
• Yahoo! Mail

Which email is the safest?

The top five safe and secure email providers are:
• ProtonMail
• Gmail
• Outlook
• iCloud Mail
• Yahoo! Mail


Christin

Christin
Marketing Manager

PR & Media Relations Supporting the team by communicating Mailbird and its great features to existing and potential users and media.

Published on August 11, 2020

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12 thoughts on "How to Find the Best Free Email Service in 2020"

  • Avatar
    Randall Wade says:

    Outlook has become very difficult…with so many changes in organization and new settings, etc. I was tempted to change to the more simple version but that can bring more issues. I’ve moved most of my mail and related products to gmail and their apps. Will not return to Outlook as my “go to” mail service……ever and I’m learning and enjoying Mailbird!

    • Avatar
      Christin Baumgarten says:

      Thanks so much for your awesome feedback Randall. Please let us know should you have any questions that we can help you with. Have a great start to the new week:-)

  • I use and recommend gmail, I like hotmail too, but Google’s Gmail service is the oldest and most popular and easiest to use.

  • A good article. My email provider is closing down recommending to change to either gmail or outlook. I had two previous email addresses with different names. In order to make things easier I wanted to keep the same names. In order to do that I had to have one at gmail, the other at outlook. They both do what I want done.

  • Avatar
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  • Outlook is way better, it sync’s well with microsoft productivity and it is widely used in work environment.

  • I am not a technical person. How difficult is it to create a Mailbird account and delete the old email account (Outlook)? Must I hire a technician?

  • I have both a Gmail and an Outlook email account since I have an Android phone and a Windows OS laptop. I have used both and agree it comes down to personal preference. I used Gmail for years but am finding I prefer Outlook especially for calendar and task management.

    The one thing holding me back from switching – no Outlook.com calendar support in MailBird. I confess I went with Mailbird due to its stellar integration with Gmail/Google and hats off to Google for syncing better with. No worries…

    • Yes, the native calendar that supports outlook calendar not available yet in the public version. This add-on still on testing right now, unfortunately, I don’t have the ETA when it will be released to the public version.

      Because we need to make sure first that there is no critical issue when we release it to the public.

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