Saturday Geek: eM Client — an Outlook alternative

For a long time, I have been frustrated with Outlook’s lack of a unified inbox. There are workarounds, including automating a custom search (really, MS? I have to write a macro for this?), but even Outlook 2013 still is missing this basic feature.

Now, however, with all the various online sites I support, having to open each inbox separately (and remember to check them all) had just gotten to be too much. So, I went looking for an alternative.

Most people recommended Thunderbird by Mozilla (the same good people who bring you Firefox), but in the middle of one thread someone touted eM Client. Since I’d never heard of it, I decided to check it out — and I’m glad I did.

eM Client is a Windows-based program that handles mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, and chat. It has many of the common features of Outlook, including categories, tags, rules, signatures, and templates. It handles pretty much any email protocol out there (POP3, IMAP, SMTP). The contact forms hold most of the stuff you would normally want to track, including pictures, details like spouse and birthday, and their web calendar. The task forms support recurrences, assignments, and attachments. And, the calendar module supports multiple calendars (including Google), filtering, categories, meetings with invitations, and Free/Busy if available. In short, this is a full-featured Outlook replacement.

What doesn’t it do? Well, it doesn’t support Exchange except through IMAP, although full Exchange support is supposedly coming in a future release. Also does not support LDAP. And, even though it has rules, they are somewhat limited. (Like, no auto-responder.) And finally, it can’t be customized or extended very much (although they do include skins for it).

And one final note: the free version only does two accounts after the first month. Since I got it for the unified inbox, that doesn’t help much. But, so far I like it so well that I will probably pay the fee.

In short, if you are looking for an Outlook replacement, and you don’t have to have Exchange support (yet), then eM Client might be just the thing for you.