Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet
An Introduction to Email Clients and Their Use at Home
A lot of us use an email client such as Outlook, Lotus Notes, or something similar at work. But many people don't realize there are programs (often for free) out there for you to use to catalog all of your email in the same manner right at home. You can have multiple email accounts, contact lists, a calendar, and a cache of other fun features which vary with each program. I will briefly touch on some of the similarities and differences between several of the clients. First, though, I will fill in those who don't know what the heck I am talking about so we are all on the same page.
So, introducing: The E-Mail Client! Email clients are programs locally installed on your computer that synchronizes with your email provider to deliver your email right to your PC or Mac without the need of navigating to their website and logging in. Often the common free providers like Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, and Mac are auto-configured so you don't have to have information like POP, SMTP, and authentication types. These companies have made great efforts to streamline this process and make it as easy for the users as possible so that they can really enjoy their email. For example, Windows Vista users found a feature called Windows Mail that came for free on the OS. This is an email client! It prompts you for your name, username and password and then actually searches based on that information through its database to see if it can auto-configure your email. Mozilla Thunderbird does this as well. A newer and up and coming email client I have favored for a long time is Windows Live Mail. WLM is an upgrade to the Windows Mail that has a much more Outlook-like feel to it with a friendlier interface. It has your contact lists, calendar, and also integrates really well with your browser, Office applications, and graphics editing software. I really enjoy the cross compatibility and functionality this program provides. The next section will go more in depth into these programs.
Windows Mail is a email client included with Windows Vista. Right off the bat, users can see that the client has been changed to better fit the look and feel of Vista. Also many features of MS Outlook 2003 such as the right reading pane. There are capable junk mail filters as well as a phishing filter, which helps protect unsuspecting users from websites and email that has been deemed dangerous. Windows Mail does not support HTTP clients such as AOL, Yahoo, and Google. Windows Live Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird would be a better option for these users . Lastly, the ability to use the spellchecking dictionaries of MS Office (when installed) has been removed. Windows Mail supports only a limited number of languages, listed below.
Mozilla Thunderbird is a great email client that I am currently testing. It contains such new features as tabs, easier installation of add-ons, and better search functionality. One of the best features for wary users is the easier account creation by using the port auto detection for incoming and outgoing SMTP/POP Connections. This will be huge for users who would like to use this technology but don't want to be bothered with the technical programming. Thunderbird aims to be a simple e-mail, newsgroup and news feed client. Out of the box, Thunderbird does not come with a lot of calendar, contact lists, and other such functionality, but such things are available via extensions you can download from Mozilla. Thunderbird can manage multiple e-mail, newsgroup and news feed accounts and supports multiple identities within accounts. Features like quick search, saved search folders ("virtual folders"), advanced message filtering, message grouping, and labels help manage and find messages. On Linux-based systems, system mail (movemail) accounts are supported. Thunderbird runs on a wide variety of platforms. Releases available on the primary distribution site support the following operating systems:
* Mac OS X
* OS/2 
Thunderbird provides enterprise and government-grade security features such as SSL/TLS connections to IMAP and SMTP servers. It also offers native support for S/MIME secure email (digital signing and message encryption using certificates). Any of these security features can take advantage of smartcards with the installation of additional extensions.
Windows Live Mail
Windows Live Mail has all of the features of Windows Mail along with some new tricks of its own! Support for Web-based e-mail accounts including Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail/Google Mail, and Yahoo! Mail Plus being the biggest addition. It uses the multi-line message list like Outlook and you can use Emoticons and similar features. Live Mail also includes spell check. One of the best features, in my opinion, is that the different email accounts have different folders so there is easy definition and organization between accounts and their corresponding mail. There is also great improvement in the editing area, where you can add pictures into the message as well as touch it up. There are new stationary features and similar other functionality found in MS Word. Home run with this client, in this writers opinion.
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