The best free alternatives to Outlook

Here's our pick of the best free alternatives to Outlook

30 Jan 2020


Microsoft Outlook is one of the best-known email programs. It’s popular, works well and it offers a lot more features than most of us will ever need. But why fork out for a paid service when there are plenty of great free email programs out there?


Windows 10 Mail

Windows 10 Mail is really easy to set up, you just enter your email address and password, and the Mail app figures out the rest for you. If you’ve got a Windows 10 computer, you don’t need to go through the hassle of downloading and installing it, it’s already on your machine. You just need to open it and add your email account.

The Mail app might not have all the features you get with Outlook, but it’s got enough for the everyday user and it’s much quicker. It doesn’t tend to slow down your computer like Outlook can either.

Setting rules to organise your folders can be a bit tricky because it can’t be done from the app. You’ll need to log in to your account using a web browser and set up your rules from there.


  • It looks great
  • Includes a calendar
  • Easy to use on a touch-screen
  • Free with Windows 10


  • Isn’t available on earlier versions of Windows
  • Rules can’t be set from the Mail app


eM Client

eM Client comes with a few different themes to help you customise how it looks, you can go for a clean, modern look, or even make it look like Outlook. If you’re handy with XML code, you can even make your own themes in eM Client’s advanced settings.

Beyond its good looks, eM Client has every feature you’d want from an email program. You can use all major email services, including Gmail, Exchange, iCloud and Importing your data and contacts is quick and easy, and it also has a fast and powerful search option.

eM Client has a calendar and contacts manager making it one of the best replacements for Outlook, and if you add a Gmail account, it’ll sync with your Google calendar and all your contacts. The free version contains all the important features, but the paid-for ‘Pro’ edition lets you add more than two email accounts and gives you professional tech support.


  • Fast, useful searching
  • Works with your Google calendar
  • Syncs your Google contacts
  • Customise how it looks


  • Tech support needs the Pro edition
  • Can display a lot of notifications when it has trouble connecting to services

Download eM Client



Thunderbird is made by Mozilla, the same company behind the very successful Firefox web browser. It’s a bit more advanced than some of the other email clients on our list, it even has some features that you don’t get with Outlook.

You get lots of great privacy and security options, making Thunderbird great for business users and anyone concerned about their personal data.

Thunderbird has a huge range of add-ons and customisations, there's an online store with hundreds of free extensions that add extra themes and functions to help you customise it.


  • Lots of advanced features
  • Very customisable
  • Import your emails from other clients


  • Can be difficult to set up
  • Looks dated compared to other mail clients

Download Thunderbird



Mailbird comes with loads of great features, it’s easy to set up and straightforward to use. The biggest benefit to Mailbird is that it lets you manage loads of other apps, just go to the Mailbird App Store and add Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox, and loads more.

If you want to add attachments to an email, it’s really easy, just drag and drop from wherever it’s stored on your computer. It’s been designed to work with touchscreens too, just swipe right on an email to archive it. The free version has adverts, but you’ll only see these in the menu bars.


  • Designed to be as fast as possible
  • Slick, easy to use interface
  • Customisation through the app store


  • Free version has adverts
  • You can’t edit or disable keyboard shortcuts

Download Mailbird



If you’d rather not have to download and install an app on your computer, webmail might be a better option. ‘Webmail’ is any website that lets you access your emails, and all email providers will have some sort of webmail service you can use.

The biggest advantage of webmail is that it doesn’t require any special software, you just go to the website and sign in with your email address and password. This means you can access your email from any connected device in the world.

To find out more about some of the best webmail services, take a look at our guide to the best free email providers.


  • Quick & easy
  • Can be accessed from any PC or smartphone
  • Most providers are free


  • You might need to log in every time
  • Features and usability will vary from provider to provider
  • Functions like calendars and contacts management aren’t always as functional as in desktop software



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