When the wheel was invented so many thousands of years ago, I wonder if the inventor knew it would be re-invented again and again.
It’s the same with Mac apps. How many ways can we do email on a Mac? Isn’t Mail enough? No, apparently. So there’s Entourage, Outlook, Eudora, PowerMail, Thunderbird, Postbox. If you use Gmail as your primary email account, there’s Mailplane. An app for Gmail.
Reinventing The Email Gmail Wheel
As much as I wonder why it’s important to re-invent the email wheel time and again, I realize that Mac users have different needs. Even I have multiple Gmail accounts to manage.
For me, Gmail works just fine as one of the accounts in Apple’s Mail (Mac and iPhone).
Is it necessary to have a standalone email app just for Gmail accounts?
Apparently so. After using it awhile, I can see advantages in using Mailplane for Gmail accounts—it’s better than Mail, and it’s far better than using Gmail in a web browser window.
Take a look at a familiar Gmail screen. It’s not a browser window. It’s a Mac app for Gmail (click the image for a larger, pop up view).
Mailplane is a window into Gmail. Email. Contacts. Tasks.
There’s more tools than you’ll ever find in either Mail or Gmail in a web browser. Search, take screen shots, grab photos or movies from your Mac, even manage multiple accounts in Mailplane.
Yep, there’s even Google ads inside. Toolbar controls are simple and straightforward and highly customizable. I mean whatever is higher than highly customizable.
If Gmail is your email life, then Mailplane makes life easier, and gives you a long laundry list of options you won’t find in Google’s web browser version of Gmail.
For example, Mailplane gives you keyboard shortcuts and the customizable Toolbar. You’ll be warned about unsaved changes when closing both a window and Mailplane.
Photo attachments can be edited for size and converted. The built-in media browser makes adding photos and movies a drag and drop operation. Mailplane also uses your Mac’s Address Book.
If you like to tweak, then this is the app for you. Not only is the Toolbar the most robust I’ve ever seen on a Mac, Preferences are aplenty.
Set up multiple Gmail accounts, enable Google Talk, change sounds for email notification, change settings for photo attachments, even adjust the Mailplane user interface.
I question whether there’s a mass need for so many different kinds of Mac apps that do email, especially one that’s dedicated only to Gmail accounts.
That said, the number of Mailplane features is remarkable.
The email window is familiar to anyone who uses Gmail in a browser, but the feature list is extensive and useful, going far beyond what you’d get with Gmail in a Safari window.
Mailplane looks like Gmail, but there’s just a lot more going on inside, which makes it a useful app for the Gmail fanatic, especially with the customizable Toolbar.
It’s a breeze to switch between multiple Gmail accounts, though a unified inbox would be a nice feature to have. If you use Mail for Gmail and you’re happy with it, Mailplane might be overwhelming because it’s heavy on features.