You need it for networking, job recruitment, downloading resources, transferring files, setting reminders, meeting with colleagues, and so much more.
Even with the rise of office chat platforms, you still depend on email for a surprising number of things. But unfortunately, not every email service is completely free. And even the free ones might not be the easiest to use or have all the features you need.
It can be a challenge to find an email client at no cost that balances the right features with usability. To help make your search easier, we put together a list of the five best free email accounts you can sign up for right now — as well as a few services we gave honorable mention.
For each email client, we highlighted a unique feature to help you find the best fit.
Unique Feature: Native File Collaboration
Who should use it: anyone who already uses and loves the rest of Google’s products.
It might seem like an obvious top pick, but Gmail is just too versatile to not award the first slot. Gmail has the second-highest email client market share (behind Apple iPhone’s native email app), according to Litmus Labs. And ironically, one of the reasons Gmail has become so popular is because of all the communication options in your inbox that don’t involve email.
Gmail is an everyday email inbox you can sign up for by registering for a Google account. But it’s built into Google Suite, a group of free apps that allow you to chat, video-conference, and share files with the people in your contact list.
Google Hangouts, available from your inbox’s left sidebar (or the right — you can customize how you inbox is displayed), lets you text and video chat with other Gmail users for the things that might not warrant an email message. Like most other email clients today, Gmail also has an intuitive calendar where you can set meetings and reminders.
Unlike other email accounts, you can use your Gmail address to log into and manage your YouTube account, as well as collaborate on shared documents and spreadsheets right from a cloud-based Google Drive.
Offering a generous 15 GB of free email storage, Gmail does everything it can to make your inbox less chaotic, including advanced filters that automatically push emails into separate folders as they arrive. And none of these functions costs a dime.
Unique Feature: Unlimited Storage
Who should use it: people who use email for most of their communication.
America Online (I feel nostalgic just typing those words) has quietly kept up with today’s standards for a good user experience. The classic AOL is now once again one of the best free email accounts available to you.
Purchased by Verizon in 2015, AOL delivers you email from its classic news-driven homepage, and comes with the contemporary spam filters and virus protection you’d expect from your email provider. You can also send text and instant messages from specific windows in your email inbox.
AOL does have something over Gmail, though: unlimited storage. Additionally, you can import email contacts from a CSV, TXT, or LDIF file so you’re not creating your “buddy list” (get it?) from scratch.
Unique Feature: Multiple App Integrations
Who should use it: people who use many different platforms to connect with others.
If you ever cringed at the sight of a “Hotmail.com” email address, you can thank Outlook for this outdated domain name. But there’s good news: Microsoft has reinvented its longstanding email service, and your free Outlook.com email address has many progressive features waiting for you.
While it touts a calendar and message filter that is similar to Gmail, Outlook also integrates with a number of other popular communication apps. You can connect Skype, Facebook, PowerPoint, PayPal, and even task-management software such as Trello — making it very easy to reach and work with non-Outlook users without leaving your inbox.
Outlook offers 15 GB of free storage for each user, along with a super-clean interface.
Unique Feature: 25 Business Addresses
Who should use it: startups and small businesses.
This is the first of the lesser-known free email accounts to make our list, but it holds a lot of potential for businesses.
The first thing you’ll notice about Zoho is its user-friendliness. From integrating with Google Drive, Box, and other cloud-based file managers, to its built-in task manager, this email service offers a simple way to accomplish all of your daily tasks.
The real difference-maker, though, is the ability to customize the domain name for up to 25 connected email addresses. Want to replace “@zoho.com” with the name of your business’s website? You can do so under Zoho Lite, which gives you 5 GB for free — all under firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unique Feature: 200 Custom Domain Names
Who should use it: small businesses, freelancers, and the self-employed.
It doesn’t get more self-explanatory than “Mail.com,” does it? This email client knows its audience — or should I say, audiences.
Right off the bat, you’ll probably notice Mail.com doesn’t have stellar storage space compared to the options above: only 2 GB. But what this email client lacks in gigabytes it makes up for with … drumroll … 200 free custom domain names. You can replace “@mail.com” at the end of your username with just about anything that describes you. Here are some options Mail.com has precreated for you to choose from:
Toothfairy.com (who knew she was online?)
Mail.com doesn’t rest on its 200 laurels, though, as the email provider also comes with a calendar for creating and tracking your events each week.
These five email services may be the most unique freemium services in the email world, but they’re not the only ones that impressed us.
Yahoo! Mail, another well-known platform, sits just behind AOL in storage space with a whopping 1 TB (that’s a terabyte) for free, along with a few key social media integrations. ProtonMail offers just 500 MB of free space but for the worthy trade of encrypted email, allowing you to send messages that nobody else can see, and disappear after a month.
And with that, you have some of the best options for free email accounts in 2018. But who knows? Your next email address could be entirely different while giving you just what you need to succeed.