Many of us spend hours dealing with email in our day jobs, and many of you will agree, that email by enlarge is out of control with regards to the volume we all receive. Email is a victim of its own success as a communication tool, and there is a severe lack of education in email etiquette, and also in just how to use clients like Outlook effectively.
I’d bet that many people have never had a lesson in how to use a lot of Outlooks features, I’ve met users who do not even know how to use rules and folders, which is a basic way of keeping your inbox clear and organised! If you look at anyone’s inbox they most likely have thousands of unread emails. Drowning in email is unproductive, and for many people they just receive too much which distracts from being productive and getting their job done.
Anyway, I digress there, The purpose of this post is to take a brief look at some of the alternatives to Outlook to see if there is a new client out there that improve upon the industry-standard Microsoft app. Having used Outlook over my career, if there is anything out there that can enhance and improve how I work to increase productivity and focus, I’m keen to find and make use of it.
A new contender released officially last year, Nylas is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, definitely one for the Mac generation, as you can see it looks beautiful and very clean!
As a direct replacement for Outlook, my biggest issue with Nylas is the lack of exchange calendar functionality (this is coming). But to counter this it has a heap of other features like snooze, quick reply, enriched contacts, open tracking, link clicks tracking, send later, mail merge, translation, send schedule availability, meeting requests, and a unified inbox for multiple email accounts.
Nylas shows real promise, and the developers behind it seem to be working at a pace to push it forward. Nylas was free when I first started using it but in order to build a sustainable business, it is now only free to developers. I’d recommend a trial if it sounds like it ticks a lot of boxes for you. All in all, it was easy to set up and to get busy, just a shame Nylas does not have a calendar yet.
Thunderbird is developed by the team at Mozilla who also develop the open source Firefox browser. My hope for Thunderbird has always been that one day it would leave Outlook in the dust, but to date, I don’t feel that it has really achieved that goal. Thunderbird really feels like Mozilla have put more focus on Firefox, which I guess provides much more revenue.
The look and feel of Thunderbird is nothing special and feels dated, Outlook 2013 looking much more modern in terms of design. Functionality wise Thunderbird has a lot of plugins, which is potentially Thunderbirds biggest strength, but there isn’t anything I’ve seen yet that makes me want to make Thunderbird my go-to email client. I also struggled to get Thunderbird to connect to my works Exchange server, still have no idea why when other clients connected easily, probably something I’m doing wrong!
eM Client took me by surprise, it is by far the closest Outlook replacement I have found. Getting setup and running was a breeze, and it pretty much has the majority of functionality included in Outlook with calendaring, contacts and tasks built-in from the start and all syncing with Exchange. Look and feel wise I’d say it competes happily with Outlook, there are a few other themes available as well.
I used eM Client for a few months and it was fine, I had a minor issue of replicating my Outlook signature in the same format but that was about it. Best of all eM Client is free for non-commercial use, and inexpensive for commercial use as well. Grab a copy from the link below if you fancy giving it a spin, I definitely recommend it.
Mailbird is an interesting client, again this one lacks synchronisation with Exchange so I am unable to use it for work, but it does a grand job of offering alternative integrations to give you benefit in other areas. It connects to Slack, WhatsApp, Google Calendar, Sunrise, Evernote, Todoist, Dropbox, WeChat, Google Docs, Asana, Twitter, Wunderlist, Moodo, Unroll.me Appear.in and Trello as a few examples!
I’d consider using Mailbird for my personal email, the interface is clean, simple and intuitive.
I spent a lot of time trying out various Android email clients with mixed success. Initially, I settled on Accompli who were then bought by Microsoft. Microsoft quickly rebadged the app as Outlook for mobile and have continued to improve it. Since it got a lot of attention the IT team at the company I worked for blocked it due to a perceived security issue with regards to how it stores passwords. I then carried on my quest and found Nine Email, and I wished I had just found it in the first place! Nine Email is by far the best Exchange email client on Android you can find, it easily surpasses Microsofts Android Outlook client in my opinion.
Nine Email has everything you need in terms of Outlook options, in fact, there are so many options to customise your experience it can be a bit bewildering, but in a good way. Nice touches like the ability to set your working hours so it only checks email around the time you want to receive email. One of the other biggest features that helped me was an unread view across all of my folders, which really helped remove noise so I could focus on getting to unread emails quickly, and clearing out my inbox. I must say that Nine really helped me get to inbox zero a few times, the ability to fly through email quickly, and even more efficiently than Outlook! I simply could not have got to inbox zero without it.
Another mention I have to give is for the support from the Nine Email team, I contacted them on a couple of occasions and they got straight back to me, the first time pointing out the feature I wanted was already there (doh!). The second time was to follow-up on my request for the ability to send calendar availability to contacts to make it quick and easy to arrange meetings and cut down on the back and forth emails you get trying to sort out a date. I sent this request in May this year and they emailed me back yesterday to let me know they have implemented a full calendar with scheduling assistance and it will be released as version 3.0 on google play shortly, awesome!
Also, I notice there is an iPhone version in the works as well for all you Apple fanboys 🙂
Other email clients to watch?
While scouring the internet I also found some other clients that I’ve not had time to dig into,
All in all, with the exception of nine which is a pure mobile app, (I may stick in a request for a desktop version!). No desktop client fully knocks king Outlook off the throne in terms of email functionality. That said it’s great to see so many clients around and giving people choice, and functionality such as integrations to connect you to your other apps.
I hope some of you found this useful, it’s clearly good to know there is alot of choice out there. If anyone knows of any other clients I should check out feel free to comment below.