Joho the Blog » Simple Email

Simple Email

All I want is the world’s simplest email client. It’s for my in-laws who are very bright but completely untutored in computers. I’ve tried teaching them, but when they click off a menu they didn’t want and accidentally click on another window that comes forward obscuring the original window, they get lost. And who’s to blame them.

So, here are my requirements:

It’s got to run on Windows 2000. That’s what they have. And, frankly, the Mac UI isn’t going to be much easier for them.

They need to connect to the SMTP and POP3 servers that comes with their ISP.

It should all be in one window.

It should let them: Compose mail. Show the dozen or so addresses they use repeatedly. Delete. List received mail. Print out. Maybe let them search for old emails.

Have a clear, English, big-font UI.

I’ve done a fair bit of looking and can’t find what I want. I’m thinking of writing one myself. It’ll be crappy for sure, and it’ll be hard-wired and fragile. If you know of something that’ll fit the bill, lemme know. Thanks.

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12 Responses to “Simple Email”

  1. Does their ISP offer webmail access? I would think that in circumstances like this that keeping all the Internet stuff in a single window, using a single metaphor, might be an advantage.

  2. Yes it does, and that may be exactly what they need.

    Send that man a tobacco-free cigar!

    And adminster the large D’oh Slap to my forehead.

  3. Ha. How could you be so foolish as to think that there could possibly be something for you out there. I laugh scornfully.

  4. …and if their isp does not offer webmail you could sign em up for the MSN and have msn pull the mail off of the ISP. WHen I am on the road that is the route I go with.

  5. I agree with the ISP and the MSN suggestion. I might even suggest downloading the MSN messenger. It allows you to configure to log in upon the boot up and check mail with a direct link to the inbox. If you are really brave let them know when you are online(not recommended.) It’s not as fancy as Outlook making it a little less overwhelming. When my mom was first starting on the net I did this with yahoos’ and it seemed to help her a lot. A few years later she asked me what those CC: and BC: lines were for. After the initial dismay I sat down and explained all of the things in her email through and email and told her to leave it in her inbox. If she had a question she could refer to it and see if I hadn’t already explained it. Needless to say she has now mastered the art of the address book, next week, PHP (or not!)

  6. The webmail interface is very nice too, though you do have to pay for it ($100/year or $10/year if you are an email-only user affiliated to a full user).

    And the OS X Mail UI is very nice too, though a little more complex.

  7. Oh buddy stay away from Hotmail and the other MS services, they will only bring you trouble. If you go “the way of the webmail” I’d recommend Yahoo. I’ve used both Hotmail and Yahoo Mail for a couple of years and there’s an enormous difference in simplicity, efficiency and flexibility.
    I’ve also heard very good things about how OS X handles mail but I use XP and haven’t had a chance to try the Apple stuff.

  8. I’d suggest web based mail, either yahoo or hotmail. If you need screenshots of either or both to decide, let me know :).

  9. You might also consider, to avoid banners and pop-ups.

  10. I in fact have as my browser’s home page. Nice site.

  11. ok nobody answered the question : is there an email client out there for old people. extraordinarily so, there isn’t. there’s a bunch of expensive, badly designed email clients for kids though.

    A govt sponsored site in australia however created a super easy email client called multimail.
    it’s of course very basic and you don’t need the mouse (pointing hardware is always the limiting point for old people, look at us and the wii)
    unfortunatel it does not support pictures, but my goal is to have my parents use it for 2 months and then slowly migrate to a spiced up version of thunderbird that i am trying to prepare (btw WHY hasn’t anybody out there designed a large print-no crap-acessible theme for thunderbird????? There are some for firefox!!!!)
    now if an entrepreneur out there wants to design such a client (a nice one)and sell it for 20 bucks, i can guarantee there are billions of old age pensioners out there craving for receiving email from their grandkids. And don’t forget that when we will be 70 we won’t be able to read small type either or efficiently use the watchamacallit that they will have developped to relace the trackpad by then.

    mail : yates at

  12. Try this site:

    It provides a very simple e-mail and a good, simple search engine.

Web Joho only

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