Mac users are blessed by Apple with a rather comprehensive email application that handles multiple types of email, multiple accounts, handles HTML email, features stationery and spell check, plus a built-in Junk Mail feature to weed out spam. And still people hate email and hate spam and that rubs off on Apple so many Mac, iPhone, and iPad users hate Mail, too.
Free And Not So Free
Through the years I’ve tried other email applications for my Mac, then later iPhone and iPad. None make me happy. Microsoft’s Outlook is everywhere and loaded with features to the point of bloat, looks and feels like Windows. Apple’s Mail has too much going on to be efficient anymore, but has one saving grace I’ll get to later.
In recent years the third party email app market has blossomed and you’ll find more email apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad than ever before; none with the feature sets in Outlook or Mail, all missing one important function, but some of them just damned good and great to use. Here are my favorites of the new generation.
Unibox – Except for the most recent version, Unibox gets plenty of good reviews, works well on iPhone and iPad, is people centric in that it does an excellent job of organizing email messages by sender. Unibox isn’t free but isn’t expensive, either. It handles attachments, file previews, and groups messages by sender which makes it easier to handle email threads. The iOS version is free to try but additional so-called Pro features has a nominal price tag.
The Mac version is priced higher but there is a trial version from the developer.
Polymail – If you like Unibox you’ll like Polymail which has a few more features but a very different price tag. There’s all kinds of things to like here. It tracks email you’ve sent so you know if someone read it. Meetings can be scheduled within Polymail. Unlike many lightweight email apps, it comes with message templates. Not only is there a Read Later option so you can keep focused on what you’re doing, but there’s a Send Later function so you can schedule messages to be sent at a later time. There’s even a built-in Undo in case your hate mail shouldn’t be sent.
Yep, Polymail runs on Mac, iPhone, and iPad and the free version gets you Read Later, Contacts, Calendar Scheduling, and Unlimited Read Tracking. After that, it’s Subscription City with a $9 a month price tag.
Newton – I so wanted to like Newton. And I did for awhile because it was priced about right, and came with bunches of useful features but not too much, and ran on Mac and iOS. Like Polymail, Newton has Snooze, Read Receipts, Sender Profile (think Contact info), and options to work in Evernote, Zendesk, Todoist, Microsoft’s OneNote, SalesForce and more. Send Later? Got it. Undo Send? Got it.
There’s much to like because Newton runs everywhere, including Android and Apple Watch. It’s free to try but there’s no option to buy. Newton is now a subscription email app with an annual subscription price tag which can hit $50 a year.
Spark – The other shoe may drop soon, but Spark is my favorite of the new generation email apps for Mac, iPhone, and iPad because it has the perfect blend of usability, speed, and convenience. It’s also free. That’s right free. But remember that other shoe?
Spark has a unified inbox, a smart inbox, attachment viewer and saver to all kinds of cloud storage services, a very fast search, and the easiest navigation of any email app I’ve used. Snooze? Got it. Smart notifications? Got ’em. Built-in Widgets to Pin, Archive, and set Calendar options. That’s very useful.
Spark is the only email app I would use in place of Apple’s own Mail. Even the Watch app is better than others. Spark– for now– is free, but I expect a subscription model soon. It will need to be priced less than Newton or Polymail, though.
One thing missing from all these email apps is something Mail and SpamSieve do better than any app combo. Spam. SpamSieve only works with Mail; not with Spark, Newton, Polymail, or Unibox, and that’s too bad. I own a dozen or so email accounts dating back a couple of dozen years and that means lots of spam. By running SpamSieve on a Mac at home which uses Mail for all accounts, I keep my iPhone, iPad, and other Macs spam free.
Hint to Mac email app developers. Spam is a problem waiting to be fixed.