e-mail program(redirected from Mail client)
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e-mail programSoftware in the user's computer, tablet or smartphone that accesses the mail servers in a local or remote network. Also known as an "e-mail client," "mail client," "mail program," and "mail reader," it provides the ability to send and receive e-mail messages and file attachments. Examples of e-mail programs for personal computers are Outlook, Eudora and Thunderbird.
E-mail programs are local applications that years ago had more features than Web-based e-mail, which uses the Web browser as the interface. As Web mail interfaces improve, there are fewer advantages of the stand-alone e-mail client, except in smartphones where viewing a Web page is cumbersome. Smartphone mail programs are designed for small screens.
In addition, before mail can be retrieved, e-mail programs must be installed in the computer, and mail server addresses and protocols must be configured. Although smartphone mail clients are pre-installed, they still require configuration.
In contrast, users can log into their Web-based e-mail from any computer in the world with username and password. Nevertheless, people get used to software, and it only takes one or two features in an e-mail client program to make it preferable to the Web browser interface. See e-mail interfaces, messaging system, universal client, POP3 and IMAP4.