Test Your Email in 67 Variations of the Most Popular Email Clients in Just 2 Easy Steps!


It is no surprise that your email can be received in many different email clients. It may, however be surprising to hear that each email client uses its own rendering engine which means that there are even more variants to consider. The intention for this article is to help you with a quick, easy way to ensure your email renders properly in 67 variations of the most popular email clients used worldwide in just 2 easy steps.

Step 1:

Test your email in the most popular web browsers: IE 6, IE 7, IE 8, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera without a DOCTYPE

Step 2:

Run our Acid Test in Firefox or Safari using the following DOCTYPE:

    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd">

Here’s more information about the DOCTYPE and why it is so critical when testing your email designs.

So why is this methodology so important?

Each desktop client uses an embedded rendering engine to display your email. Windows based desktop clients, with the exception of Outlook 2007 and 2010 use the version of IE that is locally installed. Other clients like Thunderbird 2 and 3 use Gecko (Firefox ) whereas Mac Mail and Mac Office 2011 use Webkit (Safari).

If you are on a Mac and you do not have the ability to test in IE, you should test in all the other browsers and then run an Acid Test. In doing so, be sure to select our screen capture options for all Windows based email clients (Windows Mail, Live Mail, Outlook Express, Outlook 2003, Lotus Notes 8 and 8.5). We use IE8 for our screen captures so this will not cover every base listed below but it is better than not testing in IE at all.

Aside from its rendering engine, each desktop client sets specific restrictions on supported HTML, CSS and scripting elements so unfortunately you can’t rely on browser testing alone. However, browsers have specific differences in the way they handle tables, block element padding and several other small nuances which you will likely correct in step one.

People use different browsers to view emails in web based clients. Although Firefox and IE are the most popular browsers, people using web based clients can open your email within any browser. When you run an Acid Test, we simulate your email as it would appear in the browser you are using to run a test in. If you already tested your email in each of the most popular browsers, you can save yourself some time and run an Acid Test using Firefox or Safari.

Why Firefox or Safari? Hotmail and Gmail use a DOCTYPE that is only supported in IE. You will pick up on those common issues if you run your Acid test using Firefox (or Safari).

If you skip Step 1, you will never cover all your bases, no matter what testing platform you use. We have recently come out with screen shot counterparts to some of our code based previews. Although there is some debate over which testing method is better and more accurate – if you don’t test in all browsers, you will never get the big picture.

For example, we can only provide a screen capture for one possible combination of Outlook 2003:

  • Outlook 2003 – with IE 6 installed
  • Outlook 2003 – with IE 7 installed
  • Outlook 2003 – with IE 8 installed

In our case, we use IE 8 for the screen capture but as many of you know, there are huge differences between IE 6, 7, and 8.

You can cover more email clients and possible client variations in less time. If you follow our methodology for testing, you will correct issues that may arise in each of the email client variations listed below:

Web Clients
Gmail – Firefox
Gmail – IE 6
Gmail – IE 7
Gmail – IE 8
Gmail – Safari
Gmail – Chrome
Gmail – Opera
Yahoo(New) – Firefox
Yahoo(New) – IE 6
Yahoo(New) – IE 7
Yahoo(New) ail – IE 8
Yahoo(New) – Safari
Yahoo(New) – Chrome
Yahoo(New) – Opera
Yahoo(Classic) – Firefox
Yahoo(Classic) – IE 6
Yahoo(Classic) – IE 7
Yahoo(Classic) – IE 8
Yahoo(Classic) – Safari
Yahoo(Classic) – Chrome
Yahoo(Classic) – Opera
AOL – Firefox
AOL – IE 6
AOL – IE 7
AOL – IE 8
AOL – Safari
AOL – Chrome
AOL – Opera
Hotmail – Firefox
Hotmail – IE 6
Hotmail – IE 7
Hotmail – IE 8
Hotmail – Safari
Hotmail – Chrome
Hotmail – Opera
Desktop Clients
Outlook 2003 – with IE 6 installed
Outlook 2003 – with IE 7 installed
Outlook 2003 – with IE 8 installed
Outlook Express – with IE 6 installed
Outlook Express – with IE 7 installed
Outlook Express – with IE 8 installed
Live Mail – with IE 6 installed
Live Mail – with IE 7 installed
Live Mail – with IE 8 installed
Thunderbird 2
Thunderbird 3
Entourage 2004
Entourage 2008
Mac Mail
Lotus Notes 6.5
Lotus Notes 7
Lotus Notes 8 – with IE 6 installed
Lotus Notes 8 – with IE 7 installed
Lotus Notes 8 – with IE 8 installed
Lotus Notes 8 – on Linux (uses Gecko)
Lotus Notes 8.5 – with IE 6 installed
Lotus Notes 8.5 – with IE 7 installed
Lotus Notes 8.5 – with IE 8 installed
Lotus Notes 8.5 – on Linux (uses Gecko)
Windows Mail – with IE 6 installed
Windows Mail – with IE 7 installed
Windows Mail – with IE 8 installed
Mobile Clients
Android – OS Email Client
Android – Gmail Mobile App
iPhone – OS Email Client
BlackBerry 8800

Conclusion

We feel very passionate about coming up with a solution to help you test your emails faster and in the least amount of steps possible. With that said, we’ve recently had some internal discussions about providing screen captures of your email in the most popular web browsers – not in the web-based clients but strictly in the browser itself. This way each of the steps mentioned in our methodology above could be accomplished through our testing platform – all from one browser. It is important to note that this type of feature is something we are considering, actually developing it would be based on user interest.

We are open to comments and feedback!

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