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Proton’s Mail app for desktop is here, but only for Visionary subscribers

Published Dec 14th, 2023 7:46PM EST
Proton Mail desktop app for Windows and Mac is avaialble in beta.
Image: Proton

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Swiss software developer Proton has been on fire recently, delivering exciting updates for its various end-to-end encrypted apps. Strong encryption is the key feature of Proton software, and all you need to get started is a Proton Mail account. That’s the first app that Proton made, a great Gmail alternative that offers end-to-end encrypted email free of charge. At the same time, your Proton account opens the doors to Proton Calendar, Drive, Pass, Sentinel, and VPN.

But subscribe to a premium Proton account, and you get better features for all these apps. And if you’ve ever wanted to gain access to the rare Visionary tier, you have another chance to get it. You have an excellent excuse, too. Proton just released beta versions of its Proton Mail app for Windows and Mac, which are initially available only to Visionary users.

On top of that, Proton Mail also has a great new feature that other email providers don’t have. You can forward emails between Proton Mail accounts without losing end-to-end encryption thanks to a breakthrough Proton innovation.

Proton Visionary is the exclusive Proton premium account reserved for those users who contributed to Proton Mail’s initial success in 2014. Visionary users are the most likely to get access to early features from Proton, like the new Mail apps for desktops.

The company is opening up Visionary upgrades, which you can get until January 4th. Proton’s most expensive subscription plan is $29.99/month if you select the 12-month option.

The Visionary plan will get you access to the Proton Mail desktop apps right now. The apps will also offer a built-in Calendar Experience.

Proton Mail desktop app for Windows and Mac is avaialble in beta.
Proton Mail desktop app for Windows and Mac is avaialble in beta. Image source: Proton

Proton Mail desktop apps are here

Launched on Thursday, the Windows and Mac Proton Mail apps are available to download. However, they’re only in beta, as Proton is still working on various features for the app, like support for offline email, which is the main reason for installing a mail app on your computer.

The ability to work on email while traveling or disconnected from email is priceless to some users. Others might prefer desktop apps to web apps, and that’s where Proton Mail will come in handy once it’s ready.

Here are all the features that Proton is developing for the desktop apps:

  • Offline mode support isn’t available yet.
  • Switching accounts is not supported. If you need to use another account, you’ll need to log out and log in again.
  • No notification badge for unread messages
  • Clicking on a new email or calendar notification may not open the appropriate window
  • Mailto links won’t open the app
  • ICS files won’t open the app
  • Setting up Easy Switch is disabled. You can use the web app instead to import emails or set up a forwarding.

Proton users who do not want or need a Visionary account will have to wait until early 2024 to get their hands on the Proton Mail desktop apps. These will still be beta experiences, as it’s unclear when Proton will finalize the apps.

The new encryption tech

As someone who prefers doing all their email from the browser, I don’t think I’ll need the Proton Mail apps anytime soon. However, I find Proton’s new encryption tech for forwarding emails more exciting.

The company had to figure out a way to maintain encryption of emails that are forwarded without its servers actually getting access to that content.

Proton's new encryption tech for forwarding emails between Mail accounts.
Proton’s new encryption tech for forwarding emails between Mail accounts. Image source: Proton

Proton CTO Bart Butler said in a statement that the feature Proton developed is a first for encrypted email:

Messages sent between Proton Mail accounts are always end-to-end encrypted by default. But to maintain end-to-end encryption for messages forwarded to other Proton users presented a huge technical challenge. We needed to figure out how to re-encrypt messages for different recipients without the server being able to access the content. Our cryptographic engineers have made this possible in a first for encrypted email, and we’re delighted to announce this, along with a range of features that will help businesses and customers alike have a more productive email experience, while protecting their privacy.

You can use the feature to set up auto-forwarding rules without worrying about losing encryption along the way. The feature will be especially useful to companies that rely on Proton Mail for their email needs.

It’s also the kind of feature other providers of encrypted email should develop. You’ll find more details about how Proton Mail forwarding protects your privacy at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.