Secure Email for Free with ProtonMail

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ProtonMail provides free end-to-end encrypted email via the web and mobile apps. Exporting or accessing emails is difficult, but ProtonMail’s free version has more productivity features.

Pros and Cons of ProtonMail

ProtonMail has some advantages and disadvantages over similar services.


  • Secure email encryption.
  • Encryption options
  • Set an expiration date for emails.
  • Use the ProtonMail mobile app on any device.


  • Sluggish web interface.
  • Restrictions on searching and sorting
  • Difficult to integrate with other email clients

 Free vs. Premium ProtonMail

Anyone can join ProtonMail and get 500 MB of free online storage. Paid accounts get up to 20 GB of storage, priority customer support, and other perks. Use the free service for occasional encrypted email.

What is End to End Encryption?

Email content is encrypted to prevent prying eyes. Malicious third parties can intercept messages as they travel from your computer to the recipients’ inboxes.

End-to-end encryption encrypts the message before sending it and decrypts it afterward. No one else can decrypt the message because it requires the recipient’s personal key. Services like ProtonMail allow you to send sensitive data without fear of it being intercepted.

How ProtonMail Encrypts Email Messages

Emails sent to other ProtonMail users are encrypted with their key in your browser or smartphone app and decrypted when opened by the recipient. So no need for passwords.

You can encrypt messages sent to non-ProtonMail users with a password. That person must enter the password in order to view your message. They can reply with an encrypted message using the same password.

You can also export your PGP public and private keys from ProtonMail to use with other services. Alternatively, if you’ve been using encrypted email, you can import your existing keys.

ProtonMail Interface

Other email clients’ folders are available in ProtonMail (such as Archive and Spam). It has color-coded labels, stars to distinguish messages, and rules to label incoming mail. Unlike free accounts, paid ProtonMail users can create unlimited custom rules. It also has an auto-responder.

Send Messages with ProtonMail

Use ProtonMail’s rich-text editor to add HTML and images to messages. ProtonMail has a few keyboard shortcuts but not much help with message composition. For example, ProtonMail does not suggest text, times, or recipients.

ProtonMail’s cryptography also allows you to schedule email self-destruction. Make sure to enable two-factor authentication.

Find messages in ProtonMail

ProtonMail has a search feature, but it only searches message header fields like sender, subject, and date. Encryption prevents ProtonMail from searching a message’s body, but the ProtonMail Bridge application on your desktop can.

Using ProtonMail With Other Email Accounts

ProtonMail Bridge connects your other email accounts to your ProtonMail account. Because ProtonMail encrypts mail, it cannot directly connect to other email clients, so the Bridge acts as a remote server. Outlook and Thunderbird, for example, can connect to ProtonMail this way.

ProtonMail cannot collect email from existing accounts or send email using existing addresses. Using ProtonMail with your favorite email program may help alleviate some of the productivity issues.

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