Encrypted email service ProtonMail has come a long way since its global launch 18 months ago, having expanding into VPNs, started targeting small businesses, grown into multiple languages, and — most recently — launched an encrypted contacts manager.
Now, the Swiss company is making its core service available in desktop email clients that support IMAP and SMTP, including Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Apple Mail.
Founded out of CERN in 2013, ProtonMail uses client-side encryption to ensure that all data is encrypted before it arrives on the company’s servers. With high-profile data leaks permeating the news, and Donald Trump now in charge of things in the U.S., there has been a surge in sign-ups for online privacy tools, including encrypted messaging services and VPNs.
Up until now, ProtonMail has only been available through web browsers and mobile apps, but with ProtonMail Bridge officially rolling out today, users can access their ProtonMail email accounts through their favorite desktop-based email client too.
It’s worth noting here that ProtonMail Bridge should work through any IMAP email client, however official support is extended only to the aforementioned three applications on Windows and Mac, with Linux support coming in early 2018.
How it works
ProtonMail Bridge is an application rather than a plugin for your desktop email client. This holds a number of advantages, for example it doesn’t interfere with the client’s behavior and so isn’t likely to cause any disruptions to a user’s workflow. But ProtonMail told VentureBeat that this also makes it far easier to deploy in an enterprise environment.
“The app acts as a local IMAP server running on the user’s local machine,” a spokesperson said. “The Bridge communicates with ProtonMail’s encrypted email server via our API, which supports end-to-end encryption, while email clients can communicate directly with the Bridge via standard IMAP. In this way, standard email clients running IMAP, which don’t natively support end-to-end encryption, can achieve end-to-end encryption without modifications.”
Once you’ve installed the ProtonMail Bridge application, you’ll be prompted to enter your ProtonMail credentials within the app. Then, you’ll need to configure your email client, which ProtonMail handily provides the instructions for.