Proton Mail Introduces Dedicated Desktop Application for Enhanced Email Encryption

Proton Mail finally has a native desktop app, rolling out now in beta for some users on Windows and MacOS. The encrypted email service has, of course, been available to desktop users since its inception nearly a decade ago — first through the web, and latterly via a “bridge” that opened access to Proton Mail accounts through desktop clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail. The desktop app provides offline access and is available directly from the Windows Start menu or MacOS dock, while it also bundles access to Proton Calendar, the encrypted calendar app Proton launched back in 2019. Alongside the new app, Proton also unveiled a handful of new features that will be available to Proton Mail users on both the web and desktop. Privacy pushFounded in 2014, Proton initially only offered encrypted email, but the Swiss company has expanded into VPNs, a password manager, calendar and a cloud storage service called Proton Drive which also has its own desktop app.

After nearly a decade, Proton Mail has finally released a new desktop app for Windows and MacOS users in beta. This encrypted email service has been available to desktop users since its inception, first through the web and later through a “bridge” that allowed access through popular desktop clients like Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail.

With this new dedicated desktop app, Proton is cutting out the need for the browser and bridge middleware, allowing for direct end-to-end encryption directly from its own clients. The app also offers offline access and can be accessed through the Windows Start menu or MacOS dock. Additionally, it includes access to Proton Calendar, the encrypted calendar app launched back in 2019.

Along with the new app, Proton is introducing several new features for both web and desktop users. These include email auto-forwarding, which allows premium users to automatically forward messages between Proton Mail accounts while maintaining end-to-end encryption (E2EE).

“Messages sent between Proton Mail accounts are always end-to-end encrypted by default, but maintaining E2EE for forwarded messages presented a huge technical challenge,” explained Proton CTO Bart Butler. “We had 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, a first for encrypted email.”

Another new feature, “snooze,” allows users to set reminders to deal with important emails at a later time, while attachment previews offer a glimpse into email attachments without having to fully open them.

Since its founding in 2014, Proton has expanded beyond encrypted email to offer a VPN service, a password manager, and a cloud storage service called Proton Drive, which also has its own desktop app. Proton continues to promote privacy and data security as its main selling points, positioning itself as a secure alternative to major tech companies like Gmail.

Proton CEO Andy Yen stated, “While many people use email on the desktop through a browser, desktop apps still offer certain advantages, such as better offline support. This is why we have decided to launch a desktop app, something even Gmail doesn’t provide.”

Currently, the new Proton Mail desktop app is only available to users on the Proton Visionary plan, which was initially only offered to early adopters. However, Proton is temporarily making Visionary plans available again, from today until January 3, 2024.

Proton has announced that the Proton Mail desktop app will be available to all users in early 2024 and, like its other apps, will eventually be made open-source.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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