Internet Explorer Still Top Choice for Web-Based Email [Infographic]

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Over the last few years, many new browsers have been released, giving users more choices to access the internet and email. Chrome made big news in the Spring of last year, when some reports showed the popular new browser passing Internet Explorer for the first time.

But what about browser usage for email? With many people spending the majority of their days in the office (where their choices of browser may be more limited), Internet Explorer is still king for checking web-based email clients like Hotmail and Yahoo! Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gmail users show a preference for Chrome (they’re both Google products, after all!)

The graphic below illustrates the changes in popularity for Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome and Firefox over nearly two years of tracking webmail email opens.

Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. The entire text of the graphic is also available below.


Exploring User Browser Preferences

Email and web users worldwide have access to more browsers than ever before. Existing browsers they know and love compete with brand new browsers they can explore. So, which browsers do users prefer? Does it vary between email browsing and general browsing? Let’s take a look.


Internet Explorer continues to dominate for email users when checking web-based email programs like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and AOL.

September 2012 Email Browser Use:

  • Internet Explorer: 51%
  • Firefox: 21%
  • Chrome: 14%
  • Safari: 13%
  • Other: 1%

Chrome & Firefox rapidly release new versions and automatically install new upgrades, making the latest version of these browsers the most common.


Chrome adoption for email has nearly quadrupled — climbing from 4% in March 2011 to 14% in September 2012.

March 2011

  • Chrome: 4%
  • Internet Explorer: 61%
  • Firefox: 26%
  • Safari: 8%
  • Other: 1%

September 2012

  • Chrome: 14% (+271.35% increase from March 2011)
  • Internet Explorer: 51% (-15.01% decrease from March 2011)
  • Firefox: 21% (-20.30% decrease from March 2011)
  • Safari: 13% (+59.9% increase from March 2011)


Which browsers do webmail users prefer? See How preferences changed over 18 months.


Besides a major increase in Gmail (Chrome) usage between 2011 and 2012, most of the webmail & Gmail combinations have stayed consistent.

September 2012 Statistics:

  • Gmail (Chrome): 7.79%
  • Gmail (Internet Explorer): 4.24%
  • Gmail (Firefox): 4.03%
  • Gmail (Safari): 1.55%


Between 2011, Hotmail & webmail combinations have remained consistent for Hotmail (Firefox), while Hotmail (Internet Explorer) and Hotmail (Chrome) have both seen decrease. Hotmail (Safari) increased.

September 2012 Statistics:

  • Hotmail (Internet Explorer): 18.82%
  • Hotmail (Safari): 9.94%
  • Hotmail (Firefox): 6.70 %
  • Hotmail (Chrome): 1.89%


Yahoo! Mail & webmail combinations have remained pretty consistent between 2011 and 2012.

September 2012 Statistics:

  • Yahoo! Mail (Internet Explorer): 21.89%
  • Yahoo! Mail (Firefox): 8.22%
  • Yahoo! Mail (Chrome): 6.43%
  • Yahoo! Mail (Safari): 2.35%


AOL Mail & webmail combinations have remained consistent with AOL Mail (Safari), AOL Mail (Chrome), and AOL Mail (Firefox), while AOL Mail (Internet Explorer) has decreased.

September 2012 Statistics:

  • AOL Mail (Internet Explorer): 3.51%
  • AOL Mail (Firefox): 0.09%
  • AOL Mail (Chrome): 0.05%
  • AOL Mail (Safari): 0.04%


Looking at changes in general browsing vs. email browsing behavior, we see decreases for Internet Explorer and Firefox and increases for Safari and Chrome. Other browsers (such as Opera, Camino, etc.) have increased for general browsing and decreased for webmail browsing.

Despite Internet Explorer’s dominance in web-based email, stats from Litmus confirm that Chrome’s reach is growing. The usage of the browser has seen more than a 270% increase over 18 months.

Percentage change for general vs. email browsing (March 2011 – September 2012)

Internet Explorer

  • General Browsing: -28%
  • Email Browsing: -15%


  • General Browsing: +97%
  • Email Browsing: + 271%


  • General Browsing: -25%
  • Email Browsing: – 20%


  • General Browsing: +53%
  • Email Browsing: +60%


  • General Browsing: +19%
  • Email Browsing: -74%

Chrome & Safari have seen consistent increases for all browser-based behavior, while Internet Explorer & Firefox have decreased.


While Internet Explorer continues to be the leader for email browser usage, a trend toward other browsers is quickly emerging. Both Firefox and Internet Explorer have experienced declines in usage, signaling Chrome will likely claim the #1 spot, much like it already has for general browsing.

  • Adrian Gray

    Are these stats based on Global usage? 

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hi Adrian! Yes, these stats are based on Litmus’ Email Analytics and are global/worldwide. Overall it represents more than 7 billion email opens.

  • 1_Gerret

    Hi Justine,
    great Infographic as always. 

    Though you mixed up the Firefox and Chrome logos in the graphic “Percentage change for general vs. email browsing”. Could you correct that? :)

  • 1_Gerret

    Hi Justine,
    great Infographic as always. Though you mixed up Firefox and Chrome in the graphic “Percentage change for general vs. email browsing”. Could you correct that? :)

  • Dbakeca Italia

    mozilla it is the best, opera it is nine

  • Andy Udovich

    I would be interested in seeing the breakdown of the IE stats into the different versions of IE. Do you have those?

    • Justine, Litmus

      Hi Andy! We don’t have these stats for email, but you can find them for general web usage. is a good resource. 

  • adrian farcas

     very interesting…

  • Jody Ferry

    Where’s MOBILE?

  • Cla Ge

    How is the relation of “Web-Based Email” vs. “Application-Based Email”? I would suspect it might be something like 20 to 80, or even further apart.

    • Justine, Litmus

      In January, we saw that webmail-based email opens comprised 25% of the total opens we saw, whereas desktop clients (applications) were 33%.