The Best Free Email Sites

By Paul Higgins

Four players dominate the free webmail market: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com and AOL Mail. Learn about each of these platforms' features.

While there are many free email platforms on the Internet, four players dominate the market: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com and AOL Mail. Each of these platforms gives you access not only to basic email features, but also to a vast array of services offered by each of their respective parent companies.

Gmail

Mobile

Gmail lets you check your emails either by using your device's Web browser to access Gmail's mobile-friendly inbox interface or by installing a dedicated app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.

Storage

Google's email platform gives you a 15GB storage allowance, which you can increase by signing up for a paid monthly storage plan.

Warning

The 15GB storage allowance is shared between your Gmail folders, your Google+ photo uploads and your Google Drive. Uploading large files to Google Drive, for example, can significantly reduce the amount of data you can save in Gmail.

Connected Services

In addition to letting you download and save files to Google Docs and your Google Drive, Gmail allows you to view YouTube videos sent to your email account straight from your inbox. Gmail also lets you create Google+ Hangouts to, for example, make video or audio calls with friends or family members.

Gmail email with YouTube thumbnail highlighted.

Launched in 2004 by Google, Gmail is, as of publication, the most popular Web mail platform in the world.

Tip

If you use a Google account to log in to services such as YouTube or Blogger, you already have a Gmail inbox that you can access by visiting Gmail.com.

Yahoo Mail

Mobile

You can download a dedicated iOS or Android app to access your Yahoo Mail inbox on the go.

Storage

Yahoo lets you store up to 1TB of data in your inbox. This makes Yahoo Mail -- as of publication --the Web mail platform with the largest mailbox storage limit.

Connected Services

In addition to letting you read Yahoo News articles and start Yahoo Messenger conversations with contacts directly from your inbox, Yahoo Mail supports a feature called Smart Contacts, which fetches contacts from various address books.

Yahoo Mail inbox, with Messenger icon highlighted.

Yahoo's Web mail platform features a clean interface -- which you can customize by applying free themes -- and offers convenient access to other Yahoo services.

Outlook.com

Mobile

You can access your inbox on your tablet or phone using your mobile browser or by downloading a dedicated application from your device's app store.

Tip

Windows Phone devices come with a built-in email application that is compatible with Outlook.com.

Storage

Outlook.com has a 5GB storage limit.

Tip

Consider storing large files in OneDrive instead of your Outlook.com inbox to avoid exceeding your storage limit.

Connected Services

Outlook.com lets you download and save attachments to Microsoft's cloud platform, OneDrive. In addition, you can directly edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents from your Outlook.com inbox.

Previously known as Hotmail, Outlook.com is Microsoft's answer to Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

AOL Mail

Mobile

An AOL app with basic email functionality is available on both the iOS App Store and Android's Play Store.

Storage

AOL lets you store 1,000 new emails, 4,000 sent messages and 4,000 old emails in your account.

Connected Services

AOL Mail allows you to chat with AOL Instant Messenger contacts directly from your inbox.

First launched as a feature integrated into AOL's AOL Desktop suite, AOL Mail is now a free email platform you can access with your regular Web browser.

Specialty Web Mail Platforms

Disposable Emails

Temporary -- or disposable -- emails let you receive the verification links websites send you when signing up for new accounts without having to supply your real address. Using a disposable email can prevent spam or promotional offers from getting delivered to your inbox.

Popular disposable email providers include:

Anonymous Emails

If you are concerned about your privacy, consider using an anonymous email platform such as SendAnonymousEmail to send your messages. While SendAnynomousEmail only lets you send emails, providers such as Safe-Mail or RuggedInbox.com allow you to both send and receive messages.

Tip

Both Safe-Mail and RuggedInbox.com feature JavaScript-free inboxes, letting you read and send mail over Tor, an anonymous proxy network.

Unlike mainstream email sites, specialty Web mail platforms help fulfill specific needs, such as using disposable emails when signing up for new accounts or sending emails anonymously.