One of the earliest ways that Google attempted to take over the internet was by releasing Gmail to the public in 2007. Since then, Gmail has become the new standard as the best free email program. This service provides a free email account that is always upgrading to stay ahead of its competition. It includes spam filtering, free cloud storage, POP3 and IMAP support. Gmail's incredible service combines video chat, social media and account protection. These characteristics make Gmail the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner for free email services.
Google has seen the issues that bog down the experience of using email. In a typical email account, you delete a dozen spam emails for every email you actually care to read. In response to this, Gmail's new inbox separates mail into five distinct categories: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums.
The Primary category is meant for email from those people you consider priorities. The Social tab provides social media notifications and, if you have a YouTube channel, incoming comments. The Promotions tab is where you receive email marketing and advertisements. This is different from a spam folder because it's meant for deals from sites and retailers that you personally signed up for. You can also add tabs for Updates, which is primarily meant for billing and receipt notifications, and Forums, which keeps you in the loop for online discussions you were a part of.
Gmail is at the head of the class when it comes to features and services. One of the best, unique features of Gmail is the integrated video chat application called Hangouts. With Hangouts, you can chat with up to nine people at once, share videos while chatting, and use fun video overlays such as pirate hats, halos and crowns. Hangouts is available with anyone in your contact list, as long as it is set up on their computer and they have a webcam. Other great social applications are available on Google+.
You can also make phone calls and send instant messages right from your inbox. Gmail is one of the few free email accounts that does not require an additional download to use its instant messenger. You can use Gmail on any internet-enabled mobile device or computer. An app is available for iOS and Android phones so you can navigate your Gmail account easily while you are on the go. You can download a notifier for your computer. This app lets you know when a new message has arrived, which is useful if you need to be away from your computer for a while.
Thanks to Gmail's expansion of themes, you can customize your homepage with your favorite picture or choose from over 35 high-definition themes. You can customize folders, backgrounds, colors, labels and more to suit your individual tastes and needs. Unfortunately, Google Reader is no longer supported, so if you enjoy having an RSS feed, you need to use a different service.
The downside of this service is Google's lack of support for creating alias email addresses that link directly to your personal address. It has also discontinued its support for an RSS reader.
Gmail gives you up to 15GB of inbox storage. While that's not the highest amount of storage in our rankings, you also have access to cloud storage using Google Drive. Google Docs is still present, but it has been merged with Google Drive. When you upload a text-based document or spreadsheet to Google Drive, you can access and edit it in Google Docs. This feature is great for group projects at school or work, as all members of the team can access the same material. Gmail is also available in dozens of languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese.
This service provides some of the best email organization on the internet. Its pride and joy is the conversation interface. Instead of having a list of back-and-forth emails between you and a friend or co-worker, all replies and sent messages are filtered into one line in your inbox with the number of messages in that conversation. If you or your contact has a picture uploaded as a headshot, it displays in the conversation, helping you easily identify who is saying what. Additionally, you can create custom filters and sort all your messages by sender, recipient, subject, words they contain or words they don't. You can place messages into folders, give them color-coded labels, and star, delete or forward them.
Gmail's security includes spam, virus and phishing protection. All spam you receive is filtered into a folder that allows you to separate the good from the bad, and you can mark any message you receive as spam or not. All incoming and outgoing messages are scanned for known viruses, and suspicious messages that look like phishing scams are flagged with a big red banner across the top of the message. You can report both spam and phishing attempts to Google to prevent future messages.
It also restricts downloads from automatically starting, just in case you open an infected email, and blocks images until you allow them to be seen. Although Gmail's spam protection is top-notch, you cannot adjust the strength of the spam filters to low, medium or exclusive.
Gmail uses HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to keep your online accounts safe from prying eyes with authenticated and encrypted communication. HTTPS is the same technology banks and credit card companies use to keep their transactions secure. By using HTTPS, Gmail ensures your mail is safe and secure as it transfers between its servers and your browser.
Google's mail service offers multiple support options, including user forums and FAQs. In the unlikely event that you can't unearth an answer for your particular question, you can submit an email to the Gmail support team. We would like to see a way to contact a service representative by phone or live chat, but the forums and FAQs answer most questions.
Gmail is a strong leader in the web-based email arena and is the best free email service. It's a secure, easy-to-use program that places the world at your fingertips. Gmail is one of the few free email services we reviewed with exceptionally strong anti-phishing protection and intuitive sorting and spam blocking. We are also impressed with the Google+ social connectivity and the Google Drive feature. With Google integrating so many useful extras, our only real complaint about Gmail is simply that we end up using it too much.
Gmail offers strong security features, custom HD themes and integrated video chat.
You cannot create any aliases and Google has discontinued its RSS support.
Gmail is the most secure and user-friendly email service in our lineup, and it includes many extras to make your email experience superb.