Email is definitely the killer app of the internet. Honestly, I think email is a scourge brought to earth by alien beings intent upon taking over the planet by making inhabitants go insane. Email is just the first step.
Apple’s Mail on OS X is a decent email app, cluttered with plenty of features that don’t enhance the email user’s workflow as much as they look good in a presentation. Here are a few alternatives to Mail.
First on my list of Mail alternatives is MailMate, a powerful, keyboard centric mail app with extensive key combos to keep your hands on the keyboard, away from trackpad or mouse.
MailMate is somewhat unique in that cryptographic encryption is built in. It supports Markdown, outlines, tables, and more, but also shines with smart mailboxes and better search options than Mail.
It handles multiple accounts and mailboxes but is IMAP only, no POP. Alternative layouts and views are available, along with full offline access. MailMate’s unique features present a learning curve that’s a bit steep but the interface is familiar to Mail users. Also steep is the price tag at a penny less than $50.
Second on my list of alternatives is Airmail, a lightweight email app which is lean and fast, but supports IMAP, Exchange, POP3, plus Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook, and others.
Airmail also uses a unified inbox, has multiple account capability, works offline, has plenty of keyboard shortcuts, multiple themes, per account notifications, and contact import. It’s a bargain at $1.99.
Third on the list is Unibox. While not free, it’s not expensive, but it’s an IMAP email app that features a unique interface which makes email management easier than most apps.
The inbox is unified, switching accounts is simple, and attachments and photos are easily viewed on one page. I like this one and it gets many good reviews. But it’s different.
In years past I would put Sparrow on a list. It’s much like Airmail, but Sparrow was bought by Google and no longer in development for the Mac.
Also inexpensive but loaded with features is Postbox, which also runs on Windows. The claim to fame here is tags for search, linked message threads, a quick reply feature, and an option to use Dropbox to send links for large files instead of attachments.
Postbox tracks to-do list items within the inbox, and has a built-in viewer to find both documents and photos without leaving the app. It also captures profile photos from Facebook, Gravatar, and Linkedin.
Finally, we’re back to free. While it lasts. Mozilla’s Thunderbird may be the most feature-laden of Mac (and Windows) email applications. It’s free, open-source, cross platform, and features an email account setup wizard which makes multiple accounts much easier to manage.
One of my favorite Thunderbird features is tabs. That means you can open multiple email messages at once and easily move or copy from one to another. Address Book is built-in, as is Facebook chat, Google Talk, Twitter, and other social messaging protocols.
Thunderbird’s add-ons are in such great number that there’s a built-in Add-ons Manager to make finding and managing them easier. It does smart folders, and web search, right from within the app. And, instead of pruning your older messages, Thunderbird can archive everything. There’s a spam filter, built-in phishing protection, and automated updates.
The feature list is long, but the interface is decidedly non-Mac-like, owing to a Windows heritage.