For as many features as Apple puts into the default Mac, iPhone, and iPad Mail.app, it’s become a cluttered, complex, tiresome mess that doesn’t even do a good job with junk mail anymore. Is it any wonder that one of the most used and popular Mail add-on apps is SpamSieve? Is there a better way?
Email Sucks Less
Part of the problem that most of us have with email can be summed up as part of a few basic issues. There are too many messages. There is too much spam. And the most popular email apps of yesteryear are cluttered and complex, further complicating the mess.
I’m of the opinion that the best we can do is to make email suck less, and for that I applaud the folks who publish the popular iPhone and iPad email app, Spark, now available to Mac users. Spark is free. For now. Spark for iPhone and iPad has been around awhile and it’s immensely popular thanks to a limited features set to just those functions that are useful and fast to employ.
Smart Inbox – think of it as a unified Inbox which you control, automatically collecting and categorizing email so you can breeze through the list, rather than getting stuck trying to find a function to help.
Smart Notifications – these days Notifications are everywhere, and Spark has plenty, too, but Notifications are displayed on what Spark considers important messages. Yes, it works great on Apple Watch, too.
Email Viewer – it’s lean and clean and devoid of menubar clutter and aimed to quick replies without having to stop to figure out what to do. For iPhone and iPad, options are on the bottom, but on the top for the Mac version.
Attachments – most message attachments can be opened in Spark, but if not, it will open an app that does. Even better, Spark can save attachments online; Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud Drive, and other options are available. Search for attachments, and even attach attachments to a message from cloud storage.
Composer – creating a message is easy enough but I miss the lines that describe the fields for Subject, To:, etc. Signatures are an improvement over those in Apple’s Mail.app.
Sharing – yes, Spark shows up as a sharing option in the Share icons, so you can share items on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad by email, save as PDFs, and even save links to read for later.
Search – I use search often as my email total numbers more than 25,000 messages that I’m afraid to throw away or delete. But Spark uses a natural language search options, so I can find “attachments from Nathan” just by asking. It’s not integrated with Siri yet, though.
Customization – Spark can be customized a bit thanks to the Swipes options, but remember; this is a somewhat minimalist approach to email, so you won’t find a giant toolbar or menus of options like those in Outlook or Thunderbird or even Apple’s own Mail.app.
Watch – email that hits your Watch also comes with a list of quick replies and an option to dictate a response as the reply.
Sync – This is almost worth using Spark by itself. Once you set up an email account on Spark, just login to Spark on another device and all those email accounts travel with you to the new device.
Price Tag – Spark is free on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch. It works very well and gets hundreds to thousands of four and five star reviews. Did I mention Spark is free? That’s what bothers me. Nearly a year ago I signed up for another free Mac email app that had iPhone and iPad counterparts. CloudMagic was free at first, too. Then the name changed to Newton and it became a subscription application. An expensive subscription.
I know. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so I’m using Spark on everything Apple knowing that the other shoe may drop at any moment. Now, if only someone could do something about email spam.