When did you last use an email client? Depending on your age, the answer might be ‘never’ – but I’d argue that you should seriously consider it.
Yes, it might seem inconvenient having an extra program installed on your device in between you and your email provider, but it’s a layer that you control – and in today’s privacy and security-conscious world, that matters.
One of the main advantages is that a client only receives the email content (through POP3 or IMAP), so even if your messages are scanned when your email provider receives them, you won’t see the ads targeted at you using data. Nor will you receive any cookies served by your mail provider’s website.
It’s not just privacy either – using an email client can save you time too. With a client installed. you can see all your email accounts in one place (even if they’re from different providers) without the need to log in and out of accounts or change browser tabs.
With an email client, you can also back up your emails to access offline, which can be a lifesaver if you need to find an old message with an important attachment, but you’re somewhere without an internet connection.
Are email clients still around?
They certainly are (as you can see in our list of the best free email clients), and they’re not going anywhere. TechRadar spoke to Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker recently, and she told us that although Thunderbird is on the back burner while the company focuses on its web browsers, it has no plans to let the bird fly the coop.
Also bear in mind that you don’t have to use the same client on your desktop and mobile devices. For example, for an open source setup, you could install Thunderbird on your laptop and K9-Mail (an oldie but goldie) on your phone.
Not convinced? Use your browser
Don’t fancy downloading a dedicated email client? You should at least consider accessing your emails through a web browser rather than your provider’s desktop or mobile app – yes, even on your phone – because it will still place a layer in between you and your email provider and give you more control.
Like an email client, a web browser with an ad-blocker can’t prevent a provider skimming your mail for info, but can stop you seeing advertisements targeted using that information. If you’re also using a VPN, the email provider will be unable to determine your location, giving you an extra level of anonymity.
Not only that, browser extensions (such as spelling and grammar checkers, dictionaries, translators and web clippers) will add functions that might be missing from your email provider’s own app.
Whichever client you choose, make sure you pick your email provider carefully too. Just because you’ve used one for years, you’re not beholden to it; changing can be surprisingly easy, and has the benefit of stripping out all those mailing lists that you haven’t got around to unsubscribing from.