Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WTF: What is the best email program?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the sad state of email. In response, Ruth in Michigan asks:

Question: What IS the best email program?

The Detailed Answer:

There are many different email programs (call them clients if you want to sound like a knowledgeable geek), but they fall into two categories:
  1. Web-based.
  2. Not Web-based.
The Web-based ones include the very popular GMail, Google's free email service that works in any browser as long as it's Chrome. You can also read GMail with other email programs, but you have to be geeky enough to know words like client. Anyway, reading GMail in Chrome isn't so bad, as long as you don't mind:

  1. Google is reading your mail to see if it can show you any ads relating to what you’re emailing about.
  2. Google is showing you ads when you’re trying to read your email.
  3. Long messages get cut off.
  4. Some other stuff that I put in my other post. Go read it.
On the other hand, the not-Web-based programs have some issues of their own. Thunderbird is one of the more popular of these, especially because it pretended to replace a popular one called Eudora when the Eudora people got bored and stopped working on it. Thunderbird wasn’t really a Eudora replacement, but it did come in at the same price-point ... free.

Thunderbird can be set up to read email from a bunch of different email services, including GMail, and there’s plenty of information on the Web about how to do that. I won't repeat that, but just mention that Thunderbird works with something called POP3 (post office protocol) and with something else called IMAP (Internet Message something something), so whatever you chose, it will probably be wrong.

Of course, you may be stuck using a program called Outlook, from the good people at Microsoft. Outlook was designed to talk to a Microsoft mail server, called Exchange, using a Microsoft language, called MAPI (Microsoft’s All-Purpose something-that-starts-with-I-and-I-don’t-think-the-all-purpose-part-is-right-either.) If your employer or loved one or other important person is using Exchange, just use Outlook and deal.

The Short Answer: Thunderbird.

Remember to send your questions to wtf@techcurmudgeon.info, and we will promptly respond to, though not necessarily answer, them, usually with sarcasm, irrelevance and perhaps a smattering of humor.


Ruth McNally Barshaw said...

I should have thanked you for this earlier.
Thank you.
I'm taking small steps toward a new email plan. You've helped considerably.

Peter Davis said...

Wow! Something helpful from The Tech Curmudgeon? That's a first.

I'll have to review my posts more carefully.