A Directory Of Windows E-mail IMAP Clients (And A Gripe)

By | January 23, 2005

I’ve been scouting around for a decent Windows e-mail program that supports Internet Message Access Protocol, or IMAP, but so far without success. Any suggestions? These are the ones I’ve played with so far, and while they all have their strengths, none seems to stand out:

  • Mozilla Thunderbird: Nice, very nice, but assigning filters/rules seems clunky and the junk filter seems poor.
  • Pegasus: Used to use this a lot, and still have a soft spot for it, but while it looks better than it did, the interface seems dated.
  • The Bat!: Not bad at all, but I seem to recall some complaints about IMAP implementation. Still testing it…
  • Outlook Express: Not as bad as I remembered it, but short of features such as filtering outgoing messages.
  • Outlook: Too big, too cumbersome, and it crashed on me.
  • Eudora: Not sure why I’ve never cared for this one, but I don’t. It’s that *blink* thing: You either like it or you don’t.
  • Courier: What I use at the moment, but it doesn’t do proper IMAP.
  • Mulberry: Fast and efficient but ugly.
  • PocoMail: I really want to like this one because it’s good to look at and has some nice features, but I couldn’t figure out some of its IMAP components, and ended up frustrated.

And that’s about it. Maybe there are more out there, but I can’t find ‘em. I’d welcome suggestions. I have to say it seems a pretty poor showing for such an oft-used medium.

21 thoughts on “A Directory Of Windows E-mail IMAP Clients (And A Gripe)

  1. Thomas Kemp

    1st, I have been using Thunderbird for my IMAP for awhile now, and I would dispute your characterization of its junk filter as “poor.” At this stage in my email account’s life, about 25% of my mail is stuff I want to see, the rest is junk. Thunderbird took out about 95% of the junk right off the bat, and through its learning feature, I have that up to about 99%.

    2nd, IMAP? Aren’t we all using gmail now?

    Keep up the good work.

  2. larry

    I have been using Thunderbird for about 2 months. I find it’s junk filter superior to Outlook Express and much simpler to use.

    The only issue I have is that I can’t figure out or it doesn’t run the filters automatically on incoming mail.

    Great blog. I enjoy it very much. Thanks for your effort in posting interesting articles on a regular basis.


  3. dalton

    Thunderbird and Gmail – two great tastes that taste great together. Sorry to totally sidestep your question about IMAP, but I’ve got the two working together and I can’t imagine ever wanting or needing Outlook again.

  4. Jeremy Howard

    You suggest Gmail instead of IMAP, Thomas? Well, that’s fine if you don’t need backups, or offline (disconnected) access, or a flexible server-side filtering language (Sieve), or any supported way to migrate to another provider, or ‘push’ email (instant notification), or any of the other features only IMAP supports…

  5. Thomas Kemp

    Yeah, my gmail comment was a bit of a joke. I only use gmail for non-critical communications. For instance, I belong to several professional listserves, and I have found gmail’s “conversation” grouping to really bring listserve discussions under control. Add in the excellent search feature on gmail and it amounts to a real revolution.

    But real email goes through my IMAP for just the reasons you mention.

  6. Curtis Carmack

    I have to agree with your parting comment: “I have to say it seems a pretty poor showing for such an oft-used medium.”

    It does seem like we ought to have more choices (or at least one good choice). For me the ideal would be Thunderbird’s IMAP implementation with Outlook’s power user features. Outlook’s IMAP implementation is so bad that I just can’t use it, while with Thunderbird (which I do use), I miss things like Palm Sync (a robust working version), a good address book, calendar integration (Sunbird may eventually help), and usability features like good autocomplete, etc.

    If Microsoft would stop drinking its own KoolAid regarding the ubiquity of Exchange servers and realize that much of the world wants IMAP, maybe we would get there. . . . Sigh. . . . Right now I’m hoping PocoMail will eventually do IMAP right or someone will really work on Thunderbird’s usability with a big address book.

    Maybe I should switch to the Mac and try Entourage or switch to Linux and use Evolution.

  7. rex

    me use imap.
    still looking for a small client that runs well on old pentium 233 w/ 32mb memory.
    yes. that’s my pc.
    you dont need the junky p4 for reading mail…

  8. dny

    becky is great, especially for usb flashdisk

    koomail is kool…

    thunderbird is good. but it’s damn so huge and slow even on 500mhz cpu and 192meg ram.

    outlook/express? hope this things never exist. you’ll know it if you’re tech support and responsible for tens/hundreds computer and everybody complaining about their email…

  9. matt

    I started coupling gmail and t-bird almost a year ago, I found it to be a pretty slick setup, and was so thrilled to be able to drop Outlook.

    I’ve sinced moved my more critical tbird accounts to my own IMAP service, but still have one coupled with gmail. One gripe with coupling is you have to babysit the spam filters in gmail, as well as set up a layer within t-bird.

    I agree thunderbird needs a mobile-device synch component – thankfully, such a thing is in the works with the Device-Sync project (http://wiki.mozilla.org/Calendar:Device_Sync).

    Not to be overlooked is MozCal enhancements (like invitations, etc) coming with the Mozilla Lightning project (http://wiki.mozilla.org/Calendar:Lightning).

    Lately, I’ve been doing a little more web-development, and paying attention to this ajax hype… and noticing a lot of innovative apps popping up (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/29/000223&from=rss) and I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a web-based implementation of thunderbird! Or, an implementation of Gmail’s very wonderful ajax-based mail client – that isn’t exclusively tied to Gmail! Google is already collaberating with the Mozilla foundation with the Browser, but I’m watching – and anxiously waiting – for the official marriage of t-bird and gmail’s web-client!

    Imagine having access to all of your email accounts available in Gmail’s GUI!!!

  10. Bill Holmes

    I’ve tried the following and haven’t liked any of them enough to actually switch away from Outlook at work (as much as I hate Outlook, especially 2003) or Thunderbird at home (which is almost perfect except for its recurrent lockups):


    Actually, if I remember correctly, I did like Barca, but I’m too cheap to actually BUY something for more than $20 when I can get “almost good enough” software free of charge.

  11. Leigh

    I’ve tested most of the clients listed here but none of which close to handling IMAP as good as Opera Browser (http://www.opera.com/products/desktop/m2/). I’m very surprised you haven’t mentioned or even tested it! Don’t see any reason for not mentioning a multipurpose tool.
    The rest of your site is a mekka of resources, but I’m still scratching my head of Opera.

  12. Jeremy Wagstaff

    Leigh, thanks for your comment. You’re right: I should include Opera. I have actually tried it and should include it here. I liked it and I think I would use were it not the lack of support for drag and drop. I’m a d-n-d kinda guy, and the absence of that in Opera is a big blow.

  13. Juha

    Coming into this late in the day but as a huge fan of IMAP, I wanted to wade in…

    Outlook is actually nice but not as an IMAP client. You can’t relocate the “special folders” to the IMAP server (like Sent Messages and Drafts) and why oh why oh why does Microsoft have to shove those god-awful *.PST files down users’ throats?

    You don’t need huge PST files locally with IMAP, so why won’t MS let you turn them off?

    At this stage, Tbird is the only one that’ll preserve my email sanity. Outlook Express is much faster, but suffers from message formatting issues that aren’t readily mended.

    As for spam filtering, don’t we all do it on the server side these days?

  14. Nick

    Have you tried Horde? http://www.horde.org/

    This is a web based email client and it works well with IMAP. The problem I have is that some of my users are very happy with certain Outlook features such as email letterhead in Word and having deleted messages moved to the trash folder. Do you know of any work around to the trash problem in Outlook w/IMAP? This is a big pain.


  15. Beautiful Minds

    cool list dear..,

    Am still using Pegasus.. but its crashing in between.. (eg: A shutdown without closing pegasus..)
    Wanna get out of that now..

  16. Raul

    Since outlook comes as a default in most computers its what i have become use to using, I happen to prefer it over most of the others. car shipping


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