The Mac has no shortage of email applications, however I haven’t yet found one that can tear me away from Gmail’s web interface.
What I’d love is an email client that integrates seamlessly with Gmail and Mac, doesn’t cost too much, and just works. However, that doesn’t exist currently. For now, here is a roundup of current Mac email applications.
Apple’s official Mail client is pretty good, but it’s always had syncing issues with Gmail. It’s better under Yosemite but it still has its quarks. It’s a good choice however.
Mailplane is a cross between a web app and a desktop app. Mailplane has done a lot of things right and you get all the Gmail features, including Hangouts, right in the app.
However, it sometimes feels like a fancy web browser and it’s hard to justify the cost. Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with Mailplane, but it could be better.
PostBox took Thunderbird and made a pretty sweet email app. Its integration with Gmail is fantastic and the look and feel is pretty polished so it fits in nicely on my Mac; however its interface is not yet updated for Yosemite.
Postbox has some nice features like pulling in avatars from social networks, tabs, and Dropbox integration. It’s well worth the free trial.
AirMail is probably the best choice as its interface is very polished, integration to Mac services and Gmail are superb, and it just works.
The downsides to AirMail is that it’s under active development and it feels like they’re adding every feature they can think of. Because of this, I think the focus is sometimes on new features rather than polishing and fixing what they have.
I definitely recommend AirMail and you should get it before the price goes up to $20. Even at that price, it’s a very good app.
If you want to try before you buy, check out the beta, however the beta can be a little sluggish.
One of the new kids on the block is MailBox. I really like some of the features of MailBox, especially the snooze option, but without access to my folders, it doesn’t work for me. I get that they have their own idea of managing email, but it doesn’t work into my current workflow.
Mail Pilot is another new one that aims to clean out your inbox by turning it into a task list. I tried the betas, but I never felt comfortable. I think it’s because I’m stuck in my current email workflow and change is hard. If they had a demo though, I’d love to try it again.
Yet another new email app trying to change how we think of email is Unibox. I tried an early beta, but I don’t recall if I liked it or not. I may have to try it again.
When Opera switched to Chrome’s rendering engine for the browser, they spun off mail as a standalone app. Opera Mail is a decent email application, however the future is unknown. There haven’t really been any updates to it since July 2013. I hope it has a future, but details are sparse.
Development has slowed on Thunderbird and it’s not really high on Mozilla’s product list anymore. It seems to still get maintenance updates, but that’s about it. It’s free, but the future is unknown.
Single Site Browsers
If you want to keep the web view, but have a standalone app, Fluid is the way to go. Works great, has some nice little features, but if you’re offline, you have nothing.
You can also create a single site browser with Chrome, but it’s far from prefect. Unfortunately that Windows feature never made it to the Mac.
Which one is best?
If I had to pick one app, I’d choose AirMail. It’s the best in terms of Mac and Gmail integration. My second recommendation would be Mailplane. Two different apps, but two good apps.
No matter what you pick, there are a lot of good applications for email on the Mac.