I hate email. I am not alone. Most of us use email regularly, and some of live on email as an addiction and a scourge, and a few of use are forced to use email despite how much it debilitates our health.
Over the years my husband and I have used and tried almost every email application you can find. Some are better than others. Some have a good blend of features for the great unwashed masses of email users. A few have filtered to the top as the best of the best for Apple’s customers.
As much as I want to give you a list of email apps to try and recommend the perfect one, I must admit– there is no perfect email app that fits everyone’s requirements. Whether you use email a little or a lot, here are three that come close to fitting the bill somewhere.
Apple Mail – Lots of features for the Mac, fewer for iPad and iPhone. Junk Mail filter is OK, and if you have a Mac it can limit the spam you get on iPhone and iPad. Mail, relative to other, newer email apps, has a clumsy outdated interface, especially if you have and use a large number of email accounts.
Mail handles the basics with ease, though– Gmail, Yahoo! Microsoft Exchange, iCloud, AOL, and most IMAP accounts. All you need for the latter are username, password, and email server specifics. Mail takes care of the rest. Unfortunately, Mail is unstable if you have many email accounts, and does not sync accounts between Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Others do. Mail is free, of course.
Airmail – If you want more than the basics– customizable interface, spam management, and sync email account settings between devices, Airmail does the deed. But not with ease, as this app is the most complicated to setup and use. Maybe that’s what you should expect if you want full on customizing options.
Spam is an issue for those of us who have been on the interwebs for a few decades and accumulated a fair share of email accounts. Apple’s Mail has built-in Junk Mail but it works, too, with SpamSieve. So does Airmail, and that makes it a good choice for those with spam. Airmail is the least stable and dependable of my trio but if you have just a few accounts and want plenty of user features, this is the one to have. Syncing accounts between devices is simple enough via iCloud, but Airmail has this annoying habit of implementing Airmail folders into your IMAP settings automatically. It should be opt in. It is not. Airmail has a nominal price tag for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Spark – This is my favorite email app but Spark comes with caveats. First, none of the major email apps is easier to setup or easier to use than Spark. It handles all the basic email account types, but does not have a spam filter. No competing email app is easier to sync between devices than Spark, but it does not have the customization features in Airmail. Spark has an elegant, user friendly interface which makes it easy to move messages to folders or mark as spam (but nothing gets trained). It has team features not found in Mail or Airmail.
Spark is free on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and that’s what bothers me. Subscriptions are all the rage these days so I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Not one of the three– Mail, Airmail, or Spark– is stable with a couple of dozen email accounts (we tested with Exchange, iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo, and plenty of standard IMAP accounts). If you want features, Airmail is it. If you want simplicity, Spark is it.