Did you know? The first email was sent over 40 years ago—in 1972, to be exact—by a man named Ray Tomlinson, who is often credited as the inventor of email. Since then, email has become ubiquitous in communication. Every day, more emails are sent and received than the previous day. Its place in our society is the norm, to the point where if you don’t have email, others might find that odd.
At first, the usability of email was limited. Some early systems required both users to be logged into the same host to send a message. Later iterations only allowed communication between the same email client. But as the internet has advanced, so has email. Now, you have a choice on what email client you would like to use… and there’s a lot to choose from!
The first decision you have to make is whether or not you should use a desktop email client or webmail/cloud-based email. Both systems have their advantages, so it’s mainly just a personal preference. We’ll outline the pros and cons of each in the next section.
Desktop Email Client vs. Webmail: Which Should You Choose?
To start, let’s look at desktop email clients. Desktop email clients are applications that enable you to manage your inbox by sending, receiving, and organizing messages directly from your desktop or mobile device. A few names that might ring a bell include Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, and, of course, Mailbird.
Desktop email clients are best for people with multiple email addresses, especially on different domains. You simply cannot beat the functionality and organization of managing multiple email addresses in a desktop email client. They also allow you offline access to your email, which webmail cannot do. Desktop email clients typically have better security features and far superior filtering, sorting, flagging, and tagging capabilities than webmail. Plus, desktop email clients have become so sophisticated these days that they’ve become more than just “email.” Many applications integrate with calendars, to-do lists, and other apps to increase productivity. If any of these features are important to you, a desktop email client is the way to go.
Desktop Email Clients
Webmail, on the other hand, is an email system that allows you to access your email via a web browser. Think Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail. The obvious advantage to webmail is that you can access your email from anywhere on any device without needing to access a third party application. However, webmail does not typically support custom domains without upgrading or paying. You might also be inundated with advertisements. And, for users with multiple email accounts and different domains, you’d have to log into all your accounts on separate tabs or browsers. It can get messy and complicated.
For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on desktop email clients.
Choosing the Right Email Client
Now that you’ve decided to go with a desktop email client, the big question becomes: Which email client should you use? There are tons of options available, and it can be challenging to sift through them all. Fortunately, we have a list of questions to ask yourself to narrow your search.
- Is the interface simple, clean, and intuitive? By far the biggest complaint with desktop email clients is that the user experience is outdated and clunky. Fortunately, new desktop email clients like Mailbird come equipped with a modern, sleek interface that’s uncluttered and easy to navigate. You’ll want to select a system with that type of experience.
- Does the email client support multiple email addresses from different providers? 90% of the time, they will. Still, it’s safe to double check.
- Can you integrate with other apps, such as Google Calendar or social media platforms? As we’ve mentioned previously, desktop email clients have evolved into productivity hubs that do more than just send and receive email. Accessing your calendar, social media accounts, messaging apps, and more in one place turns your email client into a productivity machine.
- How much storage space do you get? A differentiator between desktop email clients may be the amount of storage you get, which affects attachments and how much email you can backup. If you need to backup everything, more space is better. If you don’t really care to backup your emails, then storage won’t matter to you as much.
- What is the set up process like? Some desktop email clients get you signed up with just a valid email address and a password. Others require protocol addresses, port numbers, email aliases, and additional preferences. If you’re not particularly tech savvy, this can be intimidating and frustratingly complex. Take a quick look through the email client’s set up process so you can get up and running with minimal irritation.
Of course, these questions will only help you if you know which desktop email clients to look at. And we’ve already done some of the work for you! This blog post describes Mailbird, Thunderbird, Inky, Outlook, eM Client, Zimbra, and Hiri, and provides the necessary input to help you make your decision.
How to Set Up Your Desktop Email Client
Phew! You did it. You picked your desktop email client. Now it’s time to get it all set up! This process can seem daunting, especially when they start throwing acronyms out there like POP3, IMAP, and SMTP. It’s not as complicated as it looks, especially with an email client like Mailbird. We’ll use this as an example of how to get set up!
If this is your first time opening Mailbird, you’ll be greeted with an “Add account” dialog box that asks for your name, email, and password. Type in your information (email and password) and click Continue. Mailbird will find all the required information to set up your account.
To add an additional account (after you’ve already added your first account), click the menu button on the top left of Mailbird and select “Settings.” In the accounts tab, you’ll see a button for “Add.” Use this method to add multiple email addresses.
Once you’ve done that, a box titled “Network settings” pops up. Click Continue. In this step, the system will use your email and password to search for network settings—aka all those funky acronyms we mentioned earlier. Once the system detects your settings, you’ll be prompted with the next step.
If you’re using a custom domain, it’s possible the system will not be able to detect your network settings and a “Settings not found” box will pop up. In this case, you’ll have to enter the settings yourself. If you don’t know this information, check with your email provider. (For example, if it’s your work email, your IT team will have this information.) Once you’ve filled in all the required information, click Continue.
- After the system connects all your network settings, a few other prompts to customize your Mailbird experience will pop up. The first asks you to assign “Profile photos” to your contacts, which you can do by connecting to Facebook or skip this step.
- Next, you’re offered the opportunity to customize your layout and theme color. You can always come back to this setting later if you want to try different things.
- Finally, you’ll be prompted to connect third part applications, such as WhatsApp, Google Calendar, social media accounts, and more. Select the apps you’d like to integrate and click Continue. If you do not want to connect any apps at this time, just click Continue.
- And voila! Your account is set up. The last step allows you to add more accounts, or simply click Close to start playing around in Mailbird!
See how easy that can be? In less than five minutes, you’ll be on your way to becoming an email ninja!
Considering how often we check our email in one day, and how frequently we use it for communication, having an awesome email client makes that process much less stressful. The more organized your inbox, the simpler the interface, the more intuitive the system—the less time you’ll waste on email. Which means more time for the important tasks!