Top Free POP3 and IMAP Email Services

Young businessman commuting with bicycle, emailing with cell phone

Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

Free email sounds nice, but isn't that the deal where you get slow-loading pages and lots of ads?

No and no. Some free email services offer POP or IMAP access, which means you can download your messages to any email program (such as Windows Live Mail, Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, Mac OS X Mail or iOS Mail). And while you are on the road, you can still take advantage of the free web interface, which is often fast and slender.

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Gmail (Google Mail) - Free POP and IMAP

Google Gmail logo
Google Inc.

Gmail is the Google approach to email and chat. Practically unlimited free online storage allows you to collect all your messages, and Gmail's simple but very smart interface lets you find them precisely and see them in context without effort. POP and powerful IMAP access bring Gmail to any email program or device.

Gmail puts contextual advertising next to the emails you read.

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Zoho Mail - Free POP and IMAP

Zoho logo
Zoho Corp.

Zoho Mail is a solid email service with ample storage, POP and IMAP access, some integration with instant messaging and online office suites.

Aimed at professional users, Zoho Mail could be even more helpful organizing mail, identifying key messages and contacts, and sending oft-used replies.

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Outlook Mail - Free POP and IMAP

Outlook Mail on the Web
Outlook Mail on the Web. Microsoft, Inc.

Outlook Mail is not only a productive and capable email experience on the web, Microsoft's free email service can also be accessed via IMAP, POP.

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Yahoo! Mail - Free IMAP and POP

Yahoo mail logo


Yahoo! Mail offers plenty of online storage—perfect for flexible IMAP access—, a solid spam filter—handy for POP access—, and a capable web interface, of course.

While Yahoo! Mail is generally a joy to use, free-form labeling and smart folders would be nice.

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AOL Mail - Free POP and IMAP

AOL Mail
AOL Mail. AOL Inc.

AOL Mail (also known as AIM Mail), AOL's free web-based email service, shines with unlimited online storage, solid spam protection and a rich, easy to use interface. Unfortunately, AOL Mail lacks a bit in productivity (no labels, smart folders, and message threading), but makes up for some of that with very functional IMAP (as well as POP) access.

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iCloud Mail - Free IMAP

iCloud Logo

 Apple, Inc

iCloud Mail is a free email service from Apple with ample storage, IMAP access, and an elegantly functional web application.

That interface at does not offer labels or other more advanced tools for productivity and for organizing mail, though, and does not support accessing other email accounts. POP access to iCloud Mail is missing, too.

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FreePOPs - Free Web-based Email to POP

FreePOPs is a highly flexible tool for accessing all kinds of resources — most prominently free web-based email accounts — in any email program through POP. The individual supported services could support more features, though, and configuring FreePOPs and its modules could be easier. (Windows)

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MacFreePOPs - Free Web-based Email to POP

MacFreePOPs makes it easy to run FreePOPs on a Mac and access web-based email services such as Windows Live Hotmail in desktop email programs such as Mac OS X Mail. In addition to running FreePOPs as a service, MacFreePOPs gives you an approachable interface for tweaking settings or even watching log files. It's a pity MacFreePOPs inherits from FreePOPs the inability to send mail. (Mac)