For Gmail fans on the Mac—especially for those with multiple Gmail accounts—there is no better choice than Mailplane 3, to integrate the best features of Gmail with useful operating system integration that makes working on the Mac so productive. Typically, webmail services have two major shortcomings: you can only be logged into one of the same account type at a time (e.g., only one Gmail account at a time) and they are usually left out of interoperability with system-level functions such as using the OS X Contacts app, sending files from the Finder, mailing PDFs from the Print dialog box, true OS-level QuickLook functionality for previewing attachments, and accessibility to Apple Script functions. Because webmail accounts typically live inside a web page, loaded within a web browser more or less like any other page, they are isolated from the system and must be interacted with solely from within the web browser. Mailplane solves these problems and brings the power and ubiquity of Gmail to the integration with Mac OS X that non-webmail accounts, or webmail accounts loaded in to a typical Mail client (like OS X Mail, or Eudora of old, etc., or either of the other two modern mail apps I’ll be shortly reviewing) have enjoyed.
If you’re like many folks, you’ve quite possibly got a personal Gmail account or two and a work Gmail account with a custom domain. If you’ve been using only browser-based email, you’ve likely been logging into one, doing your email within that account, logging out, logging into another…lather, rinse, repeat. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fire up one app (especially an app with a snazzy icon!) and have a tabbed interface, just like a browser, but with each of your Gmail accounts and their respective calendars occupying a unique tab that you can easily switch between without any logging in or logging out, ever? That is, at the very minimum, what Mailplane can do for you. I’ve been using Mailplane with three Gmail accounts: one personal, one work, and one using the custom domain of my alma mater.
In my mind, one of the things (aside from massive free storage) that sets Gmail apart from the other webmail providers is a keyboard-centric user interface that really shines for power users. But the downside is not being able to keep two accounts active at once. With Mailplane, I can use keyboard shortcuts to advance between messages, apply labels to messages, archive them, and then zip over to the other accounts and do the same. The preferences also contain the ability to record your own keyboard shortcuts, providing an extra level of customization. And, because Mailplane is integrated into OS X instead of just being a browser, its icon in the dock as well as the application switcher (command-tab) shows the unread message count with a red badge, as the stock Mail app does in OS X. The unread message count also shows up as a badge on each account’s tab.
Speaking of notifications, a menu bar notifier as well as integration with OS X’s Notification Center are also available within the preferences of Mailplane, and those notifications can be turned on account by account, rather than universally. Use one account primarily for spam/subscriptions? Turn of the notifications and just see those messages when you choose to, not being bothered by badges and notifications.
One of Mailplane’s cleverest features is the ability to edit attachments you’ve received (such as PDFs for signature) and then turn around and email the edited version back, with just a few mouse clicks. This can be a real workflow time saver, freeing you from first saving a file, opening it, editing it, saving it again, locating it on your hard drive, and sending it back. As with OS X’s Mail.app, you can also drag and drop a file icon on the Mailplane app icon in your dock to attach a file to a new message, something that is impossible with the web client.
And if all that wasn’t enough, if you never use GChat or Google Plus, you can suppress those functions, as well as block Gmail ads from showing up within the app window. It’s the best of Gmail whilst cutting out the annoyances.
The same productivity tools that Mailplane providers for Gmail are also available to your Gmail calendar, which can reside in its own tab within Mailplane, again for multiple accounts if that is your need.
If you are a fan of Gmail and Google’s approach to email, but wish for better integration with your Mac, Mailplane is the way to go. At only $24.95, it’s a small price to pay for a huge productivity boost. I highly recommend Mailplane for power Gmail users on Mac OS X. A 15-day free trial period is offered.
Get Mailplane here: http://mailplaneapp.com
- Ronald C. Schoedel III
Ronald C. Schoedel III is an attorney, former broadcaster, student of Welsh, and Sinophile. He has lived in Alaska, Wales, and China (Hong Kong specifically), and presently calls Utah home. He has been teaching and training Mac users for nearly a decade, and started blogging as a software reviewer in 2004.