Saturday, June 25, 2016

More EMail Client Thoughts…

When I posted Wrestling with Outlook Troubleshooting I was in the middle of helping an older church-member sort out his email client issues.

He had suddenly lost the ability to send emails in his Outlook client that was also using the Outlook Hotmail Connector (64-bit).  I fiddled around troubleshooting it for a weekend, but in the end had to punt and just reconfigured Outlook to tie into his hotmail & email accounts via an manual IMAP configuraiton. 

I also set them up in Thunderbird as well to confirm it wasn’t an “account” issue.  Both worked fine so I returned the laptop and encouraged him to try both and settle on one he was most comfortable with.

Only the next week he reported more email problems. This time, he couldn’t delete his emails.

That’s an issue I haven’t had before in either Outlook or Thunderbird.

Long story made short the emails were deleting – but it took a while due to the synchronization delay between the local account and the server.

What do I mean?

So the gentleman wanted the email client to “reflect” what was on the remote email server account, rather than downloading a copy of the contents to a local file store on the laptop.  Had we set it up that way, then the email “deletion” would have been immediate – at least in terms of what he was seeing in the client itself.

Because we were not using the Outlook “Connector” plug-in, there was a lag between when he deleted an email and when the normal sync-time would trigger a re-sync of the “local” seen email contents.

So I would select an email message in the email client, hit “delete”, then…nothing for a while. It just stayed there.

If we were logged into the web-mail account directly in a web-browser session (rather than an email client application) the message delete was immediate. So it wasn’t a problem with the account.

However, back on the email client, if I hit “send/receive” right after deleting the message, the folders would re-sync and the email would “delete/disappear”.

Once this delayed delete was understood, I could tweak some of the settings, but I didn’t want to re-poll the mail server every few seconds/minutes!

Thunderbird seemed to be the fastest with “deleting” the message on it’s own with Outlook taking the longest.  The gentleman was OK with Thunderbird but I wasn’t getting a vibe from him that he loved it either.

In the end I found a compromise in Windows Essentials Live Mail.  It mimicked Outlook pretty well and had very intuitive control icons on the Ribbon. And it seemed to sync not quite as fast as Thunderbird, but much faster than Outlook.

My father-in-law loves Thunderbird – and I like going with it first since it is the one I use at home and am most familiar with it’s setup and operation for support needs. Dad still uses Outlook 2003 as that is what he was used to from his pre-retirement days. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

IMAP configuration worked great – though it does come with drawbacks when using with Microsoft mail server accounts – the greatest of which is that online contacts and calendars will not sync. In this case that didn’t matter as the gentleman didn’t use those features of his web-mail accounts.

Were I to do it again, I’d work my way down through these other free email clients until we found a winner that he liked:

  • Thunderbird - Mozilla
  • Windows Essentials – Windows Live Mail – Microsoft
    • Windows Live Mail and Outlook Mail - Microsoft Community – additional tips on setting up WLM to use IMAP connections due to the Microsoft changes killing the DeltaSync protocol that made it so seamless in the past. This is what I ended up doing and it worked perfectly.
  • eM Client – beautiful email client that should make WLM users feel right at home as Microsoft drops support of the Windows Live Essentials software packages. Free version of eM Client supports up to two email accounts. eM Client PRO ($) supports unlimited numbers of email clients.
  • Mailbird 2.0 – a more “modern” chromed email client in both free (Lite version) and $ versions.
  • Inky – free basic version and $ for subscription based version that has more features and IMAP support.
  • Pegasus Mail – free (dontation ware) email client that reminds me a bit of the Outlook Express application for some reason. Fully featured and not restricted, its a solid choice.
  • Shortcut URL on desktop – Seriously I’ve done this from time to time. If a user has an issue with an email client and the email service provides web-mail, I just make a shortcut from their web-brower to the desktop, label it “My Email” and that’s it.  The user goes right to their web-mail inbox and with Gmail,, and other email providers having highly improved and slick web-mail interfaces—an argument could be made “why bother with an email client at all?”


--Claus Valca

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