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I'm looking for a very easy to use email client for my grandmother. She's running Windows 7 and has a Hotmail account.

She barely knows how to start and shutdown a computer, but still she insists that she wants to be able to "send messages to her friends www-address" (and by that she means "email her friends").

So, are there any easy to use email clients out there? Can I customize existing mail clients to hide unnecessary options? Everything has to be very visual, as if it were made for a 5 year old.

I've already tried downloading Thunderbird, but there doesn't seem to be much to configure.

Any suggestions?

share|improve this question
Have you tried any email client (e.g. Thunderbird) and configure it for her to e.g. hide all options she doesn't need by customizing menus and toolbars? – Daniel Beck Oct 16 '11 at 11:39
I like @Daniel's suggestion and tried to make the question a bit broader. Hope you don't mind. It's an interesting use-case and I'm definitely looking forward to the answers. – slhck Oct 16 '11 at 11:42
Wow, i have to say Thunderbird has really changed since i last used it! Either way i just installed it, and it doesn't seem to be that much to configure? Do you know of any other alternatives? Thanks! – qwerty Oct 16 '11 at 12:33
Oh and i don't mind slhck, any ideas are appreciated! – qwerty Oct 16 '11 at 12:35
Windows Live Mail might be worth a try, too. – grawity Oct 16 '11 at 12:54

It sounds really silly, but Windows Live Mail is what you want!

Take a look at the following screen shot:

enter image description here

As you can see:

  • There are no complicated list of menus (you can right click and make them appear easily though, if needed)
  • There are big buttons at the top of each window with all the common actions on (in plain English, not icons you have to remember)
  • There is no threading to cause additional confusion
  • You can turn on or off the preview pane (depending on their preferences)
  • There aren't too many features for them to worry about or get bogged down in.
  • Searching for messages is quick, obvious and works well.

You can even define "quick views" which are filtered views of the current inbox, so for example if you grandmother wants to see all emails from Amazon, then you can set something up for her that shows only them easily. They are displayed on the main screen in a really clear way.

My parents (mid-60's) use it all the time and have no problems with it. In fact, they prefer it over the Gmail interface because it's simpler to use.

Download it from

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Blech! How is Windows Live Mail easy to use? I refuse to switch from Outlook Express because WLM is messier, uglier, and harder to use than OE. – Synetech Dec 8 '11 at 4:47
All the reasons I listed above :) What exactly about it do you find harder to use? – Richard Dec 8 '11 at 19:38
I hate the ribbon (which makes finding commands harder by hiding them, not easier), I hate the chrome and extra/unused icons and junk, I hate that using it “feels” flimsy and fragile, and I hate that simply moving the cursor around makes too many things change and flash. – Synetech Dec 8 '11 at 20:16

I can suggest The Bat! E-mail client. You can:

  • remove unwanted buttons from toolbar
  • modify main-menu as needed
  • configure user-level for users (so "user" will not be able even to get access to configuration options)

All settings stored in one (AFAIR) file, which you can prepare on own system and move to target later.

Just note - it costs some (reasonable) money after trial-time

share|improve this answer
Can you show some screenshots how that would look like? The default for example looks quite feature-laden. – slhck Oct 16 '11 at 14:09

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