Free email accounts may seem like a dime a dozen, but some free services stand way above the rest. This article guides you through the best free email accounts and the features that make them great.
I’ve created an email account at one time or another at each website listed here, and I continue to use some of them frequently. I check this list each month to make sure the email services still work and still offer the features I describe below.
It’s probably not a surprise that Gmail tops this list of the best free email accounts. I’ve used Google’s free email service for many years. It has a modern feel, is tightly integrated with the company’s other services, and does a good job of blocking spam.
It has some other nifty features, too, such as the option to snooze emails for later, schedule emails to be sent later, and read mail offline. You can also send emails that expire and require a unique code to open, store messages in a 15 GB vault, share files from your Drive account, undo sending messages, and set up vacation responses.
I love how closely connected Gmail is with the company’s other products. This means I can use my account to collaborate with people on projects or hold virtual meetings. It works with Meet’s picture-in-picture feature, so I can see and hear people I’m working with while composing a message or reading an email.
There are themes you can apply to Gmail’s interface to customize how it appears so it feels more like your space. Some other things I like include access to tons of advanced settings, the ability to create filters and labels, and the option to import email from other email accounts. There are also gadgets (add-ons) to extend Gmail’s functionality.
All addresses end in @gmail.com.
Outlook is Microsoft’s free email service that, like Gmail, has a solid interface that’s easy to navigate. In my experience, it’s easily second to Google’s service or even tied as the best free email provider.
The website is intuitive; it’s as easy as right-clicking an email to find further options that include moving and deleting messages and searching for every email from that one sender.
Outlook supports mail rules, which means you can set new messages to move to a specified folder automatically, be categorized, flagged, or forwarded if certain conditions are met. You can also connect directly to Skype through your email and use add-ons such as DocuSign.
Your email address can end with @outlook.com or @hotmail.com.
The main reason I like Yahoo Mail is that every person who signs up gets 1 TB of free storage for email. This is way more space than the majority of email providers, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for an email account that can store years and years worth of messages and attachments.
The compose window is similar to Gmail, but with one helpful difference: it’s easy to switch between inline image attachments and regular file attachments. This is important if you need to describe context for your images, something hard to do when they’re stored as attachments.
This is probably the best email service when it comes to alternate identities or aliases. You can create disposable addresses (up to three for free) linked to your inbox without revealing your actual address. This is helpful when you sign up for accounts and don’t want your regular inbox spammed or filled with useless email; delete the disposable address if the spam becomes too overwhelming.
I’m also a big fan of how Yahoo Mail organizes things. All the photos, documents, receipts, and travel details that show up in my email are collected in their own areas. It’s far easier to look through those items this way than searching for their emails and opening each attachment.
Here are some other things I like about Yahoo’s approach to email: insert GIFs from a built-in GIF collection, use themes that change the background and color scheme of the website, import contacts from a file on your computer and other accounts like Facebook or Outlook, use a built-in notepad, attach files from Google Drive or Dropbox, easily attach files to an email that were sent to you recently, access the online calendar app, and connect external accounts so you can use one interface to manage email.
Email addresses can end with @yahoo.com or @myyahoo.com.
AOL Mail is another free email account option that’s actually very similar to Yahoo Mail in some ways. The main page includes top stories from AOL.com, which can be viewed as a pleasant addition or seem cluttered, depending on your preferences.
Like most email providers, you can filter your messages to only show unread or read emails or flagged or unflagged messages. AOL Mail can also block mail senders and lets you configure filters.
Much like Yahoo Mail, writing an email from AOL Mail includes access to a GIF gallery and stationery. The same handy collections for photos and documents are also included here.
Your AOL.com account comes with a calendar and to-do list that are accessible from the inbox. However, some features, such as a chat room, require a paid AOL Desktop Gold subscription.
An AOL email address gives you an email like firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can also receive mail if someone messages email@example.com.
The main difference between Proton Mail and the other email services is that this one is centered around email encryption. The idea is that you can send mail without fear that the people at Proton Mail or anyone else besides the recipient can read the message.
Messages sent to other Proton Mail users are always encrypted. You can also encrypt messages you send to non-users. I love the options here. If you encrypt a message, you can set an expiration time so that it’s destroyed and unreadable after the duration you specify!
The maximum expiration time is four weeks (28 days), but you can choose something sooner if you want to, like 1 to 6 days or 1 to 23 hours.
Recipients who receive encrypted messages open the email through a link that asks for the password, where it’s decrypted and displayed in the browser. They can reply through an encrypted channel via the same message they decrypted and don’t need a Proton Mail account.
I like that Proton Mail includes encryption features for free, but 1 GB is quite low for email storage. The per-day message limit doesn’t seem like as big of a problem, at least not for me, but you’ll definitely feel that limitation if you’re a heavy email user.
Another privacy-minded feature is Link Confirmation, which guards against phishing attacks by displaying a pop-up window when you select a link, letting you confirm where it goes before actually going there.
Email addresses can end as @proton.me or @protonmail.com.
Tutanota (Latin for “tuta nota,” meaning “secure message”) is similar to Proton Mail in that it automatically encrypts your emails. However, you can disable end-to-end encryption if you’d like.
One thing that stands out to me is that you can’t create your account until you make a secure password. Some places urge you to make your password stronger, but still will accept it: Tutanota requires it.
The web interface is straightforward and provides menu transitions that bring together the mail folders and email settings. When sending messages to non-users, you can make them password protected or keep them unencrypted. If a password is designated, the recipient gets a custom link to open the message; they must enter the password to read and reply.
A neat feature is that when the user responds to an email not using Tutanota, the messages are still contained within the temporary account. You can have back and forth communication with any other email service, and the recipient can keep the link open the entire time.
Even though it isn’t as well known as Gmail or Yahoo, Tutanota lets you have an email signature, use up to 1 GB of storage, and automatically add emailed recipients as new contacts. Premium features like offline storage and smart filtering can be had for a cost.
You can make an account with any of these domains: tutanota.com, tutanota.de, tutamail.com, tuta.io, keemail.me.
iCloud Mail is an interesting service because many people don’t realize they’re only a few steps away from having one. It’s free to anyone who signs up for an Apple ID, but it isn’t limited only to Apple products. Anyone can get a free iCloud ID and access iCloud Mail on their computer.
Once you make an account, you can log in from any computer and access a suite of products in addition to your mail, like notes, reminders, photos, iCloud Drive content, contacts, calendar events, and anything else that’s been synced to iCloud from your iOS device.
The email portion of iCloud isn’t super advanced and probably won’t serve you well if you want lots of options. However, it’s effortless to set up, and you don’t have to go through a tedious process of adding your name and choosing a password. All of this works well with your existing Apple ID or a new free iCloud account.
The 5 GB of free storage for emails and other iCloud files is a plus compared to some of these other services that offer much less space. You also get IMAP support, forwarding options, large file attachment support (up to 5 GB via Mail Drop), and a two-click method to unsubscribe from unwanted emails.
New accounts end with @icloud.com.
Yandex is a Russian company that provides many tools and free email accounts, such as 5 GB of online storage, a calendar, and a search engine. Like Google, your Yandex email makes it possible to access these services using one login.
The interface is friendly. It’s easy to read and provides a simple layout while still keeping all the necessary tools intact. Like most other providers in this list, this one supports email filters, contact importing and exporting, tasks, and hotkeys.
However, it’s also unique in many ways that make it one of the better ones out there. You can forward multiple messages with ease; they send as file attachments. Delayed messaging is supported, you can be notified when an email is received and reminded later if you don’t get a reply, and the part after @ can be your website domain name (for free).
The reason I list this lower than the rest is because I occasionally have trouble logging in. For some reason, the website thinks something suspicious is going on, and I’ll be locked out until I can verify my identify. When this happens, I’m able to get back in no problem and all my emails are still there.
By default, all addresses end with @yandex.com.
Zoho is an online suite of several apps centered around business use. Zoho Mail is its free email service.
When composing a message for the first time, I noticed the minimal, tabbed design, that lets me quickly switch between the new email box and the rest of my mail. Everything feels way more accessible this way.
The Streams feature makes it easy to create groups where you and your team members can interact with shared messages and attachments. It works a bit like a private social media site.
I also really like SecurePass. If you click the lock while making a new email, you can set up the message to automaticaly expire on a certain day. Also, when this is turned on, recipients won’t be able to forward, copy, print, or download the email. Very cool!
All the standard compose tools are included, but you can also add files from Zoho Docs, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, and other services and include tables in your messages. It also lets you create new notes and tasks, use keyboard shortcuts, enable filters for auto-management, share email drafts with contacts, set up vacation replies, and send custom domains to an allow or block list.
Free accounts are limited to 5 GB of storage and 25 MB attachments, but that’s still pretty good assuming you’re not a super heavy user.
All addresses end as @zohomail.com.
10 Minute Mail
10 Minute Mail is one of the best email services if you need an email address right now, temporarily, and without going through the typical user registration steps.
As the name suggests, it’s not a full-fledged email provider, since it gives you an account for only 10 minutes. However, it is included here because it’s perfect for whenever you require a temporary email account.
Instead of providing the primary email you use for everything else, plug in a disposable address from this site. You’ll get emails like you would with a regular account, but it’s not tied to your identity, and when the time is up, you don’t have to worry about closing the account, deleting the emails, or anything—exit the page or let the time expire.
10 Minute Mail is perfect when you’re testing a service and don’t want to get emails in your regular inbox. It’s also helpful when sharing your email address with someone you don’t trust. It’s a valid email account from which you can get verification emails and replies, but it disappears soon after.
You could use it for longer if you need to, but you’ll have to use the button on the email page to reset the clock before the 10 minutes is up.
Tips for Choosing a Free Email Service
When you pick an email account, look for a few characteristics to help you determine which is best for you. They differ in how much storage you get, what the interface looks like, how you customize it, and what types of advanced features are included, such as messaging, filters, and the ability to import other data.
It’s also probably important to you what your actual email address is. If your first choice doesn’t give you the address you’re looking for, move on to the next one on the list. Try different combinations and variations to find one that’s not already taken. A username generator is a smart way to come up with something unique.