Zoho Mail Free Email Service: Review

Zoho
Zoho Corporation

Zoho Mail is a solid email service that targets professionals. A free Zoho Mail account offers ample storage, POP and IMAP access, and some integration with instant messaging and online office suites. It could be even more helpful, however, in organizing email, identifying key messages and contacts, and sending standard replies.

Pros

  • Zoho Mail includes up to 1TB storage (but only 5GB is free on a personal account) and offers POP and IMAP access.
  • Labels and comprehensive search help you organize email.
  • Zoho Mail comes without display advertising.

Cons

  • While Zoho Mail offers templates, you cannot use them for canned replies.
  • Zoho Mail lacks saved searches and self-learning folders.
  • Additional storage (beyond the 5GB allotted for free accounts) is not free. Users can expect to pay as much as $15 per month for additional storage.

What's an office without mail? Not Zoho's suite of online apps, of course. Zoho Mail, like the editing, spreadsheet and presentation programs, is ambitious and capably standing in for a desktop application.

Ample Storage Space, POP,​ and IMAP Access

You get ample storage with Zoho Mail – 5GB for personal accounts that's expandable to a full terabyte (for a fee) – and you can set up other email accounts inside Zoho Mail for sending and receiving mail. Zoho Mail also allows for both POP and IMAP access.

What works via both POP and IMAP is accessing Zoho Mail: you can set it up in your favorite email program on your desktop or in your palm, or have Zoho Mail forward new messages to any email address. A nice addition would be having it forward only certain messages using filters. Zoho Mail's rules, in general, are a tad limited in the actions they can take.

With certain paid accounts, you can set up Zoho Mail via Exchange ActiveSync as well, which brings push email to mobile devices and seamless calendar as well as address book synchronization.

Filters and Search

The basic functions are there, though: filters can delete or file mail based on various criteria, and they can assign labels, too. The labels come in colors with Zoho Mail, and – together with the swift, powerful search – help to organize and retrieve mail. Being able to save search criteria as folders would be helpful, too, as would be self-learning folders. The spam filter does learn, of course, and in my tests had to be taught a good deal of good mail.

For composing new messages and replies, Zoho Mail offers message templates that function as text snippets which you can insert easily in your emails for oft-used phrases or entire mailings. You can manage and use multiple email signatures in a similar fashion.

Zoho Mail does integrate email with its other applications and Google Docs somewhat. You can easily share documents, for example, and add leads to the customer relationship management app or note events, but the interaction often is sparse. Zoho Mail does not detect dates, for example, and searching for a contact's mail requires copying and pasting their address. The integrated Zoho Chat can talk to many an instant messaging network.

Using Zoho Mail

Zoho Mail comes with handy keyboard shortcuts, and its interface on the web is application-like (sporting both a traditional and a wide-screen view) and well-versed with the mouse. The (automatic, if you want) archiving is a welcome way to keep folders clean. In some places, feature, button and menu count seems to have won over simplicity, though.

Highlights

  • Zoho Mail is a free email service with 5GB storage (and quotas for mail sent and received per day) for personal use.
  • You can set up Zoho Mail to retrieve mail from POP accounts and send from its web interface using all your addresses.
  • Zoho Mail itself can be accessed through email programs and services via both POP and IMAP.
  • Certain paid Zoho Mail accounts offer Exchange ActiveSync for push email and synchronization as well.
  • Folders and free-form labels let you organize mail. Rules offer some automation, and a spam filter files junk out of the inbox.
  • An out-of-office auto-responder can answer emails on your behalf.
  • Flexible search options that let you combine many criteria find emails (and attached files) precisely.
  • Zoho Mail includes Zoho Chat instant messaging and offers some integration with Zoho apps and Google Docs for attachments.
  • Email conversations can be read in context with a tree view. Zoho Mail can automatically archive old mail.
  • Templates let you save email text for later re-use, and an outbox can delay mail delivery for some time to allow for unsending.
  • Business hosting plans let you use Zoho Mail with your own domains and email policies (for, e.g., quotas and access).