Email is a scourge by the earth’s ruling gods to enrage and incense mankind into craziness before we are destroyed. Alright, Twitter and Facebook might be worse, but you get the idea. Email is no fun but it can be improved.
There are few email applications for Mac, iPhone, and iPad that I have not tried. My basic requirement is a single app that works on all devices. There are plenty to choose from. Here are the three best (your mileage may vary, of course, but hear me out).
Gmail & Outlook
Microsoft’s Outlook might be the most popular desktop and notebook email app. Google’s Gmail might be the world’s most popular email but neither technology giant has my seal of approval, despite their modest price tags.
If you don’t have many email accounts and don’t get much email beyond work, your ISP’s email, and Gmail or Yahoo!, then Apple’s own Mail app works OK. The Mac version has plenty of features and while you cannot sync email between devices you can sync email accounts. Plus, Mail on iOS or macOS lets you view IMAP folders. Mail has enough features to make most Apple customers happy. Use Junk mail on your Mac and that should help to keep your iPhone and iPad clear of spam.
Mail uses multiple and time honored layouts to display messages on Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
What’s not to like? Mail works with the highly acclaimed SpamSieve, comes with templates and stationery, a built-in spell checker, signatures, and simple to use message routing rules.
If you need more there are plenty of options available. The two I like most cover two ends of the spectrum. Spark for simple and straightforward email management. Airmail for those email users who love to customize their habit and have controls Apple’s Mail never dreamed of using.
As with Apple’s Mail and Airmail, Spark runs on macOS and iOS, but also synchronizes accounts and settings between devices. That means what you set up on the Mac is easily setup on iPhone or iPad.
Spark remains somewhat traditional with account mailboxes and settings in the left column while putting a list of messages for each, including Inbox and Smartbox in the middle column, and the message details in the main column.
For Mac, iPhone, and iPad users who don’t want a gazillion customization options cluttering their brain, Spark is the app to have. It has email Send Later, Follow Up Reminders, a built-in Calendar, and the easiest and fastest email navigation options that mail it a pleasure to use.
Spark is free and easy to fall into love with unless you like spam and customizations. Spark does not have a built-in spam filter and does not use SpamSieve.
Airmail has all that and more. Much more. In fact, probably more customization features than any email app I’ve used. It runs on iOS and macOS, and, like Spark syncs account settings between devices using iCloud. Unlike Spark, Airmail is an acquired taste, but once you get it up and running your way, it can be a delight to use.
Airmail is packed with features, but different from Apple’s Mail app. It uses Gmail shortcuts, plenty of lables and color customizations, a unified inbox and support for almost every email service you’ll see anywhere– iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com, and others.
You get split screen support, multiple account signatures, HTML or text or Markdown, global search, notifications for everything, and the best email message routing system on macOS or iOS. The filtering system seems convoluted compared to Mail but works well. It even bounces messages (can’t do that with Mail anymore).
Airmail works with SpamSieve so once you set it up on your Mac it will identify incoming spam, segregate it to a spam folder and that keeps spam off iPhone and iPad. Syncing accounts between devices is uttering painless.
Caveats? Just a few. Airmail is a customizers delight; an app from heaven.
There are settings I didn’t know you could set with email. It has MacBook Pro Touch Bar support, Face ID for iPhone X, Spotlight search that’s instant, and, after a year of hard work, the stability it didn’t have a year ago. I made Airmail my default email app and relegated Apple’s Mail to iCloud account duty. The Send Later function only works with Gmail or Outlook accounts while Spark’s Send Later works with any basic IMAP account.
Your mileage will vary, of course. Email apps are much like notes apps or word processors– everybody has a different need. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with any of the three. Mail and Spark are free. Airmail is affordable and packed with customization features for power users.