Apple's Mail Application, Microsoft's Outlook, we've all heard of them. But how many of us use them on a daily basis? Considering the convenience of using mailing clients and the eye-watering design of most browser based email services, not enough. So why use a Mailing Client?
What is a Mailing Client / Email Client?
A mailing client is essentially a software or application (for your computer, phone or tablet) to access and store your emails.
What does an Email client provide that a browser-based email service doesn't ?
With an email client (such as Mail), you can do everything that you would be able to do with your normal browser-based email service. But as an application, an email client brings much more to the table.
- First and foremost, email clients store your emails offline. This is, in particular, their most useful aspect and probably, one of their key selling points. (Even though Apple's Mail Application is free) This means that, if ever, you need to access your mail at a time when you are deprived of internet capabilities, your email client is the only thing that can save you.
- Email Clients such as Mail and Microsoft Outlook are capable of logging you in (see point 5) to more than one email ID. This is particularly useful for people who, like me, find it hard to keep track of several email IDs.
- Since they are designed as applications with user interface and appearance being key features to developers, email clients have a far better track record when it comes to appearance. (For me, this point would have been number one)
- Related to the above point, convenience in terms of usage and accessibility is one of the only reasons people actually switch to email clients.
- Email Clients have a one time-setup and login. So, you open your Email Client for the first time, type in your name, email address and password, choose your email provider (gmail, etc) and you never have to login again.
- Email Clients are usually cross platform. Apple's Mail Application, for instance, works on Mac, iPad, iPhone and iPod.
- Email Clients include your usual email capabilities like mail, tasks, notes, etc and also include more tools and features like cloud syncing, flagging and highlighting messages, conversations, previewing web pages, etc.
- Email Clients are the best tool for organizing your mail neatly. Apple's Mail Application, for instance, includes the ability to "flag messages by color", mark VIPs, sort into folders, etc. Apple's Mail also has an interesting ability to create "smart mailboxes". If you're familiar with Mac, you'll already know what this. Smart mailboxes allow you to set conditions for received (or sent) mail items to sort them into folders. For example, you can set a condition like, "All Messages from Facebook after 4th April, 2010", or "All messages with attachments..." The possibilities are endless. This is one feature you have to experience to understand.
- Adding attachments is a breeze. Drag and drop functionality.
- Your emails can look good too. In addition to downloadable templates, Apple's Mail has many options to format your email and make it look good,
- They usually have the ability to schedule email timings.
So what's the downside?
Like everything great, this too has its pitfalls. Surprisingly few of them, however.
- Unlike Gmail, Mail attaches its files while sending the mail which makes it a little more tedious.
- Mail takes time to come into your sent box. So confirming that an email has been sent is a tougher job than usual.
- Mail will only be received when application is opened. (I recommend auto-open at login)
What do they cost ?
I won't get into the details of other mailing clients in this article, but Apple's Mail is pre-included in all Macs and iOS devices. On Mac it is located in the Applications folder / Launchpad.