Email has been around for decades, but people still love to complain about it—and rightfully so. Even though we’ve have other communication tools, like text messaging for personal chats and team messaging apps for business talk, people still get too much email, most of which is junk anyway.
With some patience, you can unsubscribe from newsletters and create rules for automatically sorting mail into folders. But for the average person, that’s all too much bother. There is another way. Ditch your current email service and start fresh with a new one.
This article is about alternatives to Gmail—we don’t have anything against Gmail per se, but it’s one of the most popular email services. If you’re looking for a new email service there’s a good chance you’re switching from Gmail. Nevertheless, below you’ll find a list of the best alternatives. Some offer distinct features that Gmail doesn’t have, while others emphasize privacy and security.
Quitting your current email account is simultaneously easier and more difficult than it sounds. Signing up for a new address takes no time at all and may cost nothing. But fully abandoning your old account is a bad move. We recommend keeping the old account open and checking it periodically to make sure nothing important arrives. Aside from that, be sure to:
- Tell your most important contacts about your new address.
- Update important online accounts, such as financial and health accounts, with your new email address.
- Don’t use your new address for shopping, newsletters, news, promotions, deals, listservs, and other stuff that caused your email headaches in the first place!
Best for Apple Fans: Apple iCloud Mail
ree with supported Apple devices Depending on whether and when you signed up for an Apple account, you might already have an Apple email address (one that ends with @icloud.com, @mac.com, or @me.com) and not even realize it. To find out if you do, try logging into the Apple or iCloud account portals. If you have an Apple device, you can use the Mail app to access the account and manage your email. One benefit of the Apple Mail app is you can pull in email from an existing account and manage both it and your new Apple address from the same place. You can also use the iCloud web app to access your email. If you prefer some other email client, follow these instructions from Apple to configure it.
Best for Email Geeks: Fastmail
Fastmail has been around since 1999. It started as a feature-rich tool for email nerds, but its hook now is that it is as simple and familiar as Gmail. It includes a calendar, contacts, as well as tools such as snooze and pinned messages.
There are three types of Fastmail accounts. Basic offers 2GB of storage per person and costs $3 per month or $30 per year. You cannot use a custom domain at this tier, and it doesn’t include the snooze feature either. Standard accounts cost $5 per month or $50 per year and bump up the storage to 30GB. Professional accounts cost $9 per month or $90 per year and include 100GB of storage.
Best for Email Management: Hey by Basecamp
Hey by Basecamp aims to fix some of email’s worst problems. Instead of an inbox, you get an “imbox,” where only important incoming messages land. You still receive other messages, but they get routed to a different folder to keep your imbox more focused. There’s also a Reply Later Stack for deferred emails—ones you’ve opened and realized you need to act on later.
Focus and Reply button lets you respond to emails in a focused window with fewer distractions. This mode shows you all the messages you want to reply to one by one. You can also change the subject line of messages so that it makes sense to you without affecting the thread for anyone else. Hey costs $99 per year, as long as your @hey.com address is four characters or longer. Two-character addresses such as email@example.com cost $999 per year. Three-character addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org are $349 per year.
Best for Privacy and Security: Hushmail
Hushmail encrypts your mail and gives you the option to encrypt messages you send to people who use less secure email accounts. To encrypt emails to non-Hushmail users, you simply check a box before you send a message; recipients will then receive the message on a secure web page instead of in their inbox. For reference, Hushmail stores its data in Canada only, which means that your data is protected according to Canadian law.
The $49.98-per-year Premium account comes with one email address that ends in @hushmail.com. The plan also includes an unlimited number of email aliases, 10GB of storage, the option for several other extra layers of privacy protection, and the ability to create two secure web forms.
If you want to use a custom domain, you need to pay for Hushmail’s Small Business version ($5.99 per person per month). The company also offers a HIPAA-compliant tier specifically for the healthcare industry that starts at $9.99 per month.
Best for Encryption and Digital Signatures: Mailfence
Mailfence, which has been around since 1999, lets you send encrypted email with digital signatures. Digital signatures give assurance that the sender is who they say they are and help thwart certain types of illegal behavior online. No matter what tier of service you choose, Mailfence promises no ads, no spams, no trackers, and no government surveillance. This Belgium-based company falls under the purview of EU law but and uses an SSL certificate that doesn’t involve an American certification authority anywhere in the chain.
In addition to email services, Mailfence provides a calendar, a contacts app, and a place to store documents. Free accounts come with 50MB of storage for email and 500MB of storage for documents (that’s not much), plus the ability to set up one group for sharing calendars and documents. Other tiers of service increase the storage space, let you create email aliases, and give you more ways to access support. These plans cost between 2.50 euros and 25 euros per month.
If you previously signed up for a Microsoft or Hotmail account, you might already have an Outlook.com email address. And if not, you can sign up to get a new one from Outlook.com for free. This email service is tied to all of Microsoft’s other web apps, such as Word and Excel, which you can also use for free once you sign in. It also sports a Focused Inbox and an Other Inbox to help you sort incoming mail.
An Outlook.com account gets you access to an integrated calendar, a contacts app, and the To Do tasks app. A free account includes 15GB of storage for mail and another 5GB of storage for OneDrive. You can use your Outlook.com account on the web or via the mobile apps for free, but Microsoft won’t encrypt your mail or provide advanced protection from ransomware and phishing emails at this tier. A Microsoft 365 account, which costs $69.99 per year for one person or $99.99 per year for a family, increases mail storage to 50GB, ups OneDrive storage to 1TB, removes ads, and unlocks email encryption. Another benefit of a Microsoft 365 subscription is that you can download all the desktop Office apps.