5 open source webmail clients for browser-based email

Gmail has loved phenomenal success, and no matter which research you select to have a look at for actual numbers, there is not any doubt that Gmail is in the direction of the highest of the pack in the case of market share. For sure circles, Gmail has turn into synonymous with email, or at the very least with webmail. Many respect its clear interface and the easy capacity to entry their inbox from wherever.

But Gmail is much from the one title within the sport in the case of web-based email clients. In reality, there are a variety of open source alternate options accessible for those that need extra freedom, and infrequently, a very completely different method to managing their email with out counting on a desktop consumer. You’ll nonetheless want an email server to make use of with these clients. If you do not have already got a favourite, look for an upcoming article with some choices to contemplate.

Let’s check out just some of the free, open source webmail clients on the market accessible for you to select from.


Nextcloud is commonly regarded as file syncronization software program (like Dropbox) however it’s much more than that. By default, it is a type of digital drive within the cloud. Significantly, “the cloud” on this context will be your personal server. In addition to being an interface to your on-line storage, it has a wealthy plugin system so you’ll be able to run net apps for every thing from chat to mail.

The mail plugin does not present a mail server. It’s only a webmail consumer, however it connects to quite a lot of mail methods. If you run Nextcloud on a server you will have sudo or root entry to, it is potential to setup Postfix or the same mail server, and use the Nextcloud mail app because the entrance finish. Best of all, Nextcloud devs have kept away from reinventing the wheel, and use libraries from the favored Horde mail consumer.


More than only a mail consumer, Horde is full-fledged enterprise-ready groupware. The Horde suite is browser primarily based, and consists of net apps for studying, sending and organizing email, managing and sharing calendars, contacts, duties, and notes. In addition, the Horde mission offers a PHP framework with libraries and apps for constructing out a custom-made working atmosphere.

Like the Nextcloud mail app, Horde does not present a server, so you may nonetheless want a mail host, or you’ll be able to run your personal. However, Horde affords a sturdy expertise (you’ll be able to demo it for your self on their website) for managing your on-line life, and its UI is superb on the desktop and cell.


Roundcube is a contemporary webmail consumer that installs simply on a normal LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack. It incorporates a drag-and-drop interface that typically feels fashionable and quick, and comes with a slew of options: canned responses, spell checking, translation into over 70 languages, a templating system, tight handle e-book integration, and plenty of extra. It additionally incorporates a pluggable API for creating extensions.

Roundcube is obtainable as open source beneath the GPLv3.

Roundcube screenshot courtesy of the mission’s website.


The subsequent consumer on the record is Zimbra, which I’ve used extensively for work. Zimbra consists of each a webmail consumer and an email server, so in the event you’re wanting for an all-in-one answer, it could be a good selection.

Zimbra is a well-maintained mission that has been hosted at a variety of completely different company entities via the years, and was acquired by Synacore in 2016. It options many of the belongings you’ve come to anticipate in a contemporary webmail consumer, from webmail to folders to contact lists to a variety of pluggable extensions, and usually works very effectively. I’ve to confess that I’m most aware of an older model of Zimbra, which felt at occasions gradual and clunky, particularly on cell, however it seems that newer variations have overcome these points and supply a quick, clear interface whatever the machine you might be utilizing. A desktop consumer can also be accessible for those that choose a extra native expertise. For extra on Zimbra, see this article from Zimbra’s Olivier Thierry, who shares a very good deal extra about Zimbra’s function within the open source neighborhood.

Zimbra’s net consumer is licensed beneath a Common Public Attribution License, and the server code is obtainable beneath GPLv2. S

Zimbra screenshot courtesy Wikicommons, licensed CC-BY-SA.


Next up is Rainloop. Rainloop is a really fashionable entry into the webmail enviornment, and its interface is unquestionably nearer to what you may anticipate in the event you’re used to Gmail or one other industrial email consumer. It comes with most options you have come to anticipate, together with email handle autocompletion, drag-and-drop and keyboard interfaces, filtering assist, and plenty of others, and it could actually simply be prolonged with extra plugins. It integrates with different on-line accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Dropbox for a extra linked expertise, and it additionally renders HTML emails very effectively in comparison with another clients I’ve used, which may wrestle with complicated markup.

It’s simple to put in, and you’ll attempt Rainloop in an online demo to determine if it is a good match for you.

Rainloop is primarily written in PHP, and the neighborhood version is licensed beneath the AGPL. You may take a look at the source code on GitHub.


Rainloop screenshot by creator.

More choices

  • Mailspring helps a number of accounts, learn receipts, translations, undo ship, and different fashionable email consumer options.
  • Cypht is a light-weight email consumer and information reader written in PHP and JavaScript and licensed beneath GPL v2. It’s received a singular design geared toward combining a number of feeds (disparate email addresses and RSS feeds) into one.
  • Mailpile is an HTML 5 email consumer, written in Python, and accessible beneath the AGPL. Mailpile focuses on velocity and privateness.
  • WebMail Lite is a contemporary however minimalist possibility, licensed beneath the AGPL and written principally in PHP. It’s feature-rich (it could actually even combine OpenGPG) however easy to put in.
  • SquirrelMail describes itself as “webmail for nuts”. It’s light-weight and easy to put in, and has been round since 1999.

This is on no account a complete record. What’s your favourite open source webmail consumer?

Editor’s observe: This article was initially printed in 2015, and has been up to date to mirror adjustments in accessible software program choices.

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