If you’re trying to choose a good free email service with the right features, you’ll find that there are plenty of options to choose from. It’s great because everyone can find something that works for them, but it can get you into decision paralysis.
Reading: Good free email services
To help you choose the right email service for your needs, here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular free email services. We’ll take a look at how much storage they have, what they let you do, and why they might be right for you.
These are the email services we’ll be reviewing in this article:
- Zoho Mail
- iCloud Mail
- Yahoo! Mail
- Hey (as a bonus – not free, but new)
So let’s dive on in.
Gmail is one of the most well-known and widely used email services out there. It’s part of the Google suite of services, and it’s so popular for many reasons.
If you want feature-rich email and love G Suite, then Gmail might be a great choice for you.
Here are some of its great features:
- You can schedule emails to be sent at specific times, delay them so you don’t forget them, and customize your notifications
- You can email large attachments from Google Drive (and keep the documents there so they don’t clutter your local computer)
- You can compose your emails faster with Smart Compose (like autocomplete) – you can even translate your messages directly in Gmail (under the three dots – “Translate Mail”).
- With the Reading Pane feature, you can view your inbox and the email you’re reading at the same time (just go to Settings – Reading Pane – and choose where you want it).
- Advanced search options are available (just click the down arrow to the right of the search bar).
- In addition to the regular search functionality (by folder, etc.), you can also search for emails by date (type before:date – like 1/1/2020 – it will only search in these emails).
- Gmail has good security and you can send/receive funds via email. It also has a “confidential mode” where you can set an expiration time for messages.
- Some other cool features? Adjust how long you have to undo sent emails, automatically browse your inbox (under the Advanced tab in Settings), offline mode, and drag emails between tabs.
Storage: Gmail gives you 15 GB of free storage. While that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that Google Photos, Google Drive, and any other Google tools you use also use it.
So if you have gigabytes of photos in Google Photos on your computer, you may be using up your email storage capacity.
If you’re looking for a powerful email service that offers tons of features and the ability to integrate with a range of business-friendly applications, Outlook is an excellent choice.
For example, it’s not as easy to use as Gmail, but you can do a lot more with it. Many large companies use Outlook for their email, which provides a powerful calendar, task manager, and other customizable features.
Here are other Outlook bestsellers:
- You can create new meetings/tasks/contacts directly from your inbox (without switching windows).
- You can also share or assign tasks, such as tasks, with colleagues, and you can share your calendar with them.
- Outlook allows you to create your own custom rules (for example, always send emails from x to this folder, etc.). You can also customize notifications and how messages are displayed (e.g. change text color for x senders, etc.).
- You can also easily create custom email templates (no extra typing!) if you send messages that don’t change frequently.
- You can schedule emails to be sent exactly when you want, and pause them so you can read them later without losing track.
- You can also set up message notifications (never miss a VIP email again!) and use tags and categories to keep track of important emails and organize your inbox.
- Easy integration with other Microsoft products (for example, if someone sends you a Word document as an attachment, you can open it directly in Outlook).
- When you want to create a new contact, just drag and drop an email from them into the Contacts tab and voila – it’s created for you.
- You can use sticky notes as reminders (just type Ctrl + Shift + N anywhere in the Outlook interface).
- Outlook also has its own version of autocomplete called Quick Parts that can save you some time.
- You can @mention people in bulk emails to let them know they’ve been affected
Many people describe Outlook as “feature-rich” email – now you can see why.
Storage: When it comes to storage, Outlook offers 15GB for free – the same as Gmail.
Wait a minute – are Outlook and Hotmail the same thing?
It’s confusing, but here’s the long and short of it:
Microsoft bought Hotmail in 1997 (yes, that was a long time ago). They went through several iterations of name changes (MSN Hotmail, Windows Live Mail), but finally settled on Windows Live Hotmail around 2012.
This was also when Microsoft launched, the final rebranding of all Hotmail (name). Anyway, if you want to try Outlook, you can sign up here.
ProtonMail is a great option for regular users who don’t want organizations or hackers to snoop on their emails. It’s not the strictest security measure in the world, but it’s more than enough for the average user.
ProtonMail is a Swiss-based open source encrypted email provider (by the renowned CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research) that gives you all the benefits of Swiss law and privacy/security.
It’s not the only encrypted email option, but it’s one of the most well-known. Let’s see why:
- ProtonMail is best known for its encrypted email service (all emails are protected using end-to-end and zero-access encryption standards).
- With the free plan, you get one email address, 150 messages per day, 3 folders/tabs, and limited support
- You are not required to provide any personal information when registering for an account.
- It uses the fairly strong PGP encryption standard
- The web client, its encryption algorithm and iOS code are all open source
- This IP address will be removed from all your emails
- The ProtonMail Bridge feature allows you to use it with other email clients (ie, it can retrieve emails from other clients and import contacts from them).
- You can send “self-destruct” messages after a certain amount of time.
- You can send encrypted emails to people who don’t use ProtonMail
- Address verification allows you to store the signing key in a digitally signed contract so that once verified, the key cannot be tampered with (replacing the previous method of automatically managing encryption keys, invisible to the user). This helps prevent man-in-the-middle attacks
However, be aware of one important security-related thing: your email subject line (and address information) is not encrypted. If ProtonMail is required to disclose this information to the authorities for any reason, they can and will do so.
Disk Space: ProtonMail offers “only” 500MB of disk space on its free plan. But if you need more and are willing to pay, there are 3 paid plans (they also have more features).
Ah, AOL email. If you were a kid in the late ’80s or ’90s, chances are your first email account was AOL. Who doesn’t love hearing those three little words – “You have mail!”
The world seems to have changed since then — but AOL isn’t completely behind. The long-established email provider has kept its no-frills service fresh and relevant. This is especially useful if you only want to use your service to send and receive emails.
Here’s why you should consider AOL:
- Enough to say it up front: AOL Mail has unlimited storage. As far as I know, this is the only one. It also has a sizeable 25MB limit on attachments.
- It has all the typical (and expected) spam and virus protection, plus other basic features like a spell checker and filters to sort incoming email.
- You can also use panels to stay organized, including quick links to to-do features, calendars, and blogs
- It also has a reading pane mode (so you can read emails without leaving your inbox – emails appear on the side).
- You can create custom folders to further organize your mail (though this feature is not as sophisticated as Gmail or Outlook).
- Email Stationery lets you customize your email templates with themes, styles, and more – making your emails more festive for holidays, birthdays, and more.
- It supports POP and IMAP protocols (allowing you to download emails to your computer, so you can access them even without the Internet).
While AOL Mail isn’t that fancy, it’s great for basic email functionality. The unlimited storage feature also makes it stand out and helps it stay relevant.
Some other free email options
Maybe you want more options – I hear it. You like research. Well, here are more options for free email services.
Zoho Mail offers 5GB of storage – not bad – and offers encrypted email. This is a great option for startups and small businesses.
Here is a quick overview of some cool features of Zoho Mail:
- You can create up to 25 business addresses (so you can use @tastytreatsbakery.com or whatever your business name is in place of @zoho.com).
- Easily manage all your tasks, calendars, notes and documents from your inbox (simple Google Drive integration)
- Fully encrypted data and privacy guarantee
- Easily migrate email from previous email services with built-in tools
- Social media-style “streams” help you communicate and collaborate with teammates
- Organize attachments by type
Sounds like your cup of tea? You can sign up for Zoho Mail now.
If you’re only interested in the Apple ecosystem, you might want to consider iCloud Mail. It offers 5GB of free storage (you can buy more for $0.99 per month), and the interface is a pleasure to use.
Here are some other great iCloud Mail features:
- No ads – just compose your email
- Useful keyboard shortcuts for effective email delivery
- Spam filtering (automatic and manual) – you can also set up rules to block unwanted mail
- Clean, minimal user interface (think Apple’s design aesthetic)
- You can mark specific senders as “VIP” and iCloud Mail will send their emails to a special folder
Regardless, Yahoo offers an impressive 1TB of storage (that’s 1000GB), second only to AOL’s unlimited storage. Here are some other cool Yahoo! Email Features:
- Customizable inbox design and layout
- Easily integrate calendars directly from your inbox (you can also use Google Calendar or anyone else with an iCal address).
- Integrate with your other email services like Gmail, AOL, Outlook so you can manage all your inboxes in one place
- Yahoo organizes your emails into Views in the left pane (like Photos, Documents, Receipts, Travel information, etc.)
- Customizable out-of-office notifications
GMX Mail offers a little bit of everything – and with 65GB of free storage and up to 50MB of attachments, it’s a very cheap free email option.
Let’s see why you might also want to try it:
- Encryption options – stay safe (plus built-in antivirus and spam filters)
- You can have up to 10 different aliases if you need to receive emails from different addresses in one place (eg Support, Team, Help, etc.).
- MailCheck extension for Chrome ensures you get notified when new emails arrive
- Ability to organize all emails from your other accounts in one place
- Customizable filter settings (create your own or use the ones provided by GMX)
- Powerful search, online calendar and user-friendly contact features
Bonus – Hey [it’s not free, but it’s new]
You’ve probably heard the hype surrounding Basecamp’s bold new Hey email. It’s not free, but it promises many major improvements over the old way of doing email.
Here are some key features:
- You can check your emails – if you get emails from annoying senders, block them now.
- You can open several emails at the same time and read them.
- You can add private notes to any email thread (so all information related to that thread is in one place).
- There’s a “Paper Path” folder where you can send all your receipts and other transactional messages (easy to find but won’t clutter your inbox).
- The Attachment Library collects all your attachments, so you can search there (without having to search the email first).
- Extensive security features such as mandatory 2-factor authentication and support for hardware security keys and fingerprint readers.
- 100GB storage included
You can learn about many other cool features. Individual plans are $99/year and teams are $12/user per month. If you want to try it first, they offer a 2-week free trial.
OK, now you should be ready to choose a free email provider. Good luck finding the one that works for you!
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