To begin with, MailMate is not the most beautiful email app, aesthetically speaking. It doesn't have any pretty icons or colorful interface elements, but instead carries a basic chrome interface and nearly all text-based buttons. There's good reason for this: MailMate is a keyboard centric email management system, which means it saves you time if you take a few minutes to review it's extensive keyboard command set. If you are super busy and like to get through your email quickly, or if you have to process metric tonnes of email every day, the quite beautiful icon for Mailmate gives us a hint as to its strength: carting in all your mail, sorting it in its virtual mail room, prioritizing it for your viewing or just stacking it up and setting it aside for later, and then getting all your outgoing messages on their way, on your schedule (with a built-in send-later features).
Also, unlike most every other email app, MailMate offers full offline support, even for creating or deleting IMAP mailboxes. Users of web-based clients cannot work through their email inbox whilst in flight, for example, whereas true offline support lets you do everything except send and receive messages, which obviously requires an internet connection.
In my decade plus of tech training and consulting, I have met many people who have a hard time taming their inbox, partly due to the number of subscriptions they have, such as to Listservs, which--whilst offering access to lots of useful information and conversation--can often be the source of getting so far behind on reading through one's inbox. MailMate offers the ability to selectively "mute" conversations. Don't need to read everything on a Listserv but don't want to unsubscribe? Take a quick glance at the subject or the first message in the thread, and mute it if you don't want to follow it. You'll still get all the subsequent messages, which can be automatically tagged and filed into smart mailboxes, but you won't see them show up in the unread count in your inbox. If a large numeral glaring through the email count badge has ever caused you stress, you are not alone. This seemingly simple answer to taming mailing list subscriptions will add a new level of calm to your email life. On a side note, when I first added my accounts to MailMate, it created some smart mailboxes for some of my subscriptions automatically. That was a pleasant surprise.
The smart mailboxes feature in MailMate far surpasses any I have seen, with its deep filtering and searching ability into such header fields as unquoted text or quoted body text. If there's a header field in an email, I'm pretty sure MailMate supports filtering by it. Combine that with the power of true Boolean logic and your smart mailboxes can do more than you might have imagined. MailMate comes pre-populated with a dozen or so smart mailboxes, which whilst useful on their own, more or less serve as guides on how to create others customized to your uses. Which leads me to mention the manual. Unlike a lot of modern software, MailMate has an extensive manual available online and through the Help menu, with tips also built into the app which can be set to show up every day, in an unobtrusive little bar at the bottom of the main window. For those who want to go the extra mile in their email management, MailMate supports custom keybindings, though I have not yet done much in that area.
MailMate may not be for everyone, though for those who rely on email to get a lot of things done, MailMate could be exactly what you are looking for. It is lean, super fast, and incredibly powerful, and at a cost of only $50, a solid software investment in your own productivity. A 30-day trial period is available at no charge.
* Shortly after I published this review with a screenshot I blurred for privacy, Benny, MailMate's programmer, emailed to tell me of the Distortion Mode available under the View Menu. If you need to do screenshots in your email, they will look nice, as below!
Get it here: http://freron.com
-Ronald C. Schoedel III
Perhaps my favorite feature, however, is the very attractive Summarize view when replying to emails. How I tire of trying to decipher who said what in a dozens-long email chain, with the text squeezed into a tiny column by all of the preceding forwarding marks. Postbox replaces this:
Not hard to see which makes better sense of messages.
If you’ve ever lost an attachment, you’ll appreciate Postbox’s icon view, which takes an email folder and shows all of the images attached to messages within that folder, giving you access to save or forward those attachments. Never lose another emailed photo again!
And, posting to Facebook or Linkedin, as well as Tweeting, has never been easier, if you tend to “live” in your email program (as many do):
Perhaps the most automated feature is Postbox’s tight integration with Evernote. I love Evernote and use it to track pretty much everything in my personal and work lives, so when Postbox — with the click of a single icon — can take an email, turn it into an Evernote note, turn the subject of the email into the title of the note, and turn the email’s topics into Evernote tags, I think that’s pretty dang spiffy.
Postbox adds all of these innovations all whilst keeping the interface lean, attractive, and uncluttered. The Focus pane helps you squeeze more useful information into your widescreen view of your mailbox, adding quick sorting by topic, sender, and filters such as attachments or unread. Keyboard shortcuts to add Topics or Labels to your messages make it a breeze to sort messages as you read them. Read a message, apply a Topic, and then onward to the next message, and so forth. If you deal with large volumes of email on a daily basis, or need to whip your inbox into shape, this is a fast and efficient way to get a handle on what your emails are all about, and then narrow your focus and tackle one topic or concern at a time.
Sending Dropbox links is also a breeze. Instead of cluttering up your recipient’s inbox with huge attachments, and risking returned mail because of too-large attachments, dragging and dropping files from your Dropbox folder results in links within your message, by which your recipient can easily click and download the file, with the added advantage of always having the latest revisions to the file easily available.
I should also mention how easy it is to make a nice signature in Postbox. Using basic HTML (instead of sending an image file embedded in my mail), all of my messages bear this signature:
I have been using Postbox for a few weeks now and am only truly beginning to understand just how much power its got under it’s mailbox-shaped hood. I love finding new ways to use my Mac to make me more productive and efficient, and Postbox has allowed me to shave a lot of time off the time I generally spend handling email. Even if you save just a few minutes a day, it’s $9.95 price tag is so worth it. If you feel like OS X Mail is close, but not quite, what you’re looking for, the upgrade to Postbox 3 will get you what you want, and much more. I highly recommend Postbox for anyone who uses email.
Get Postbox 3 here: http://www.postbox-inc.com
- Ronald C. Schoedel III
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.