I’m the type of person that whenever I see an app I just HAVE TO install it to try it out. Regardless what it is supposed to do, regardless if I ever will have any use for it. And after opening it and closing it a few times I have uninstalled it. And then install next update a week later and uninstall it again. And so on. The apps I spend most time installing and uninstalling are email apps.
Now, you might think “why doesn’t he just choose one and stay with it?”. That is a very good question indeed, and easy for normal people to do. To me that has not been an option so far, since maybe — just maybe — there’s that really ultimate email app somewhere and oooh the horror if I missed it.
Now, it is important to say that I use macOS and iOS/iPadOS. At work I have used Windows, but there my possibilities to choose my own apps has been limited. Outlook is the one that is standard there, so what I can do is change colours in the menu bar and such things. Boring.
So what are the apps I have tried, and why did I choose not to use them anymore? The first none-Apple standard email app I used was many many years ago and it was called Eudora. Those of you who have used Mac since the old pre-unix days might have tried that one. Since it also was available on PC, some of you older non-Mac users might remmed er it aswell. Then, since I used BBEdit as text editor, I tried Mailsmith and used that for a couple of years. I did have Apples standard mail app on my computer aswell, but seldom used it.
When I started to use my iPhone more than my Mac to check and write mail, I was limited to Apple mail which in those days was — to be honest — crap. Free, but limited. So I went on a hunt for the ultimate email app. And that’s where it all went too far.
I started to use an email app called Airmail, a commercial email app that I used on both my Mac and my iPhone. It wasn’t perfect in any way, but it had some functions that I liked. Snooze, integration with BusyCal (on Mac, not on iOS by some reason) and 2Do just to mention a few. Last year they suddenly went from a paid app to subscription based, making all of us that actually already paid for it having to pay once again, and now monthly. Now — I don’t mind subscription based apps if they do something that is essential. Since I am a personal user and not a company I can’t see any reason to subscribe to something I don’t really need.
Airmail basically fetches emails provided from a service that has nothing to do with them. OK it is true that they have some cool features — you can change colours of things, and you can snooze and you can even put stars on emails. But that is just their version of flags, and since the flags in Apple mail are so much better I can’t find anything in Airmail that makes me want to subscribe to it.
I have also tried Polymail. A very good email program but also with a very hight subscription cost that I just can’t find any reason to pay. They have a free version, but that is so basic that there is no way I would use it instead of almost any other app. My guess is that this app is not really for personal users, but for companies.
Ok, so what about Canary mail? Yes, a very good mail app, especially if you are concerned abut your privacy on Internet. They have a beta version for both Mac and iOS so you can try it out before purchasing. It works almost the same way as Spark as I see it. The makers will probably object to this, but to me as a personal user that don’t need much of the extra stuff all email app have under the hood, I don’t see much difference in my daily use. I can flag emails and they show up as flags in Apple mail. It integrates with a few other services and apps, and just as Spark iOS you can copy a link to the mail and paste it in to BusyCal (or whatever calendar app you use). However, I haven’t found any such service in the Mac version, which makes Canary miss my requirenets. They have an integrated calendar, but I don’t use that function since it is very limited in comparison with BusyCal.
They have a PGP-function built in to Canary. Not of any importance to me, but to others I guess it can be a goods thing. And since it works out of the box, I see no reason NOT to use it. There are some things in Canary that just makes me feel it is not my first choice, mainly due to the MacOS version. But I keep trying out the beta, ands it is improving. So who knows, I might make it my primary email app in the future. It is at least a close contender.
Outlook for Mac and iOS are decent email apps, but I mean I use them at work. And they ARE basically Windows apps in a Mac/iOS environment. (I guess Outlook users will oppose to this, but then it is just the way I feel, and this is my personal reflection, nothing more or less).
Edison? Well, there is now a Mac version but it is at a very early stage. To me it feels more like a beta.Also, it doesn’t integrate with anything, so to me and my wish for integration with 2DO and BusyCal (or Things3 and Fantastical for users of those apps)makes it a non-option to me. It also has a blemished past in security-issues . This is now according to themselves fixed.
Mailmate is also MacOS only and so doesn’t really qualify for this list, but still I just HAD to download a trial. It looks like an old version of Apple Mail on steroids. After downloading and installing it I just stared at it and didn’t understand anything. Then I managed to find out how to integrate it with BusyCal, 2Do and whatever you like. However, the integration with BusyCal didn’t work in the betaversion I tried. I even uninstalled, contacted the maker with screen dumps of the error messages, but I guess he gave up since I didn’t receive any answers. So I dropped that one. However-if you are SERIOUS about your email, like markup and keyboard control, and mainly use your Mac and not your iPad/iPhone when checking emails, then just dig in to Mailmate. I am certain I will do that myself, given the time. When I feel up to the challenge.
So I have landed in Apple mail and Spark. Apple mail has none of the bells and whistles that most others have, but I have learned to live without them. Snooze? Nope, but instead I have a folder I call “read later” where I put the emails I don’t want to answer now but don’t want to throw away. I also use the different flags to mark emails and I use smart folders. The basic idea on how to use Apple mail I found at Newoldstamp, and I just tweaked it to work they way I want.
Spark itself is a very good email app and it is available on both MacOS and iOS/iPadOS. So of course I could use just that. But Apple mail has a few things that others lack aswell. And now since I’ve been used to it I miss the option to use more than one flag, since Apple provides seven. Sparks ‘pin’-thingy actually turns up as a flag in Apple Mail (as also Canary does), that is why I chose these two apps. In my amateuristic mind they interact well.
As I wrote above it seems Spark and Canary have a lot in common , but what makes Spark stand out to me is the tempo of the updates, the integration with BusyCal in macOS, and the fact that it is free. I wouldn’t mind to pay for it.
So, there you have it, my unprofessional look on email apps for Mac and iOS.
I am certain that many of you disagree and think my choice is totally wrong. And that is OK, since we are all individuals with different needs. To me the important thing was to find a timesaving solution. I’ve done that now.
Since I realized I spent TOO much time trying out all email apps I could find, I now have landed on a solution that lacks a lot of bells and whistles, but at least gives me time to actually act on my emails and not get lost in a jungle of apps.