Best Apple Mail Client For Mac

  1. Apple does provide some of the beautifully crafted applications.One of which is the default Mail app on the Mac. And mail clients on the large are everywhere. You must be having one in the form of your Gmail or Outlook straight from built-in email app, namely the Mail app.
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Times are changing for email on the Mac. As more people use universally available Web-based services as their primary email accounts, and as POP accounts from Internet providers gather dust, Mac email clients have begun to morph accordingly.

Click New Message in the Mail toolbar, or choose File > New Message.; Enter a name, email address, or group name in the 'To' field. Mail gives suggestions based on your contacts and messages on your Mac and devices signed into iCloud.

The new contenders focus less on powerful cataloging and search capabilities—most webmail accounts handle those tasks quite well already—and more on lightweight, go-anywhere access. The rise of the Mac App Store has made these clients more affordable and more similar to their iOS cousins.

Apple’s default Mail client remains firmly in the middle of the road. Its meat-and-potatoes feature set will work fine for most people, and it’s still my default email client—though mostly due to my own inertia.

If you’re hankering for something different, though, the latest crop of Mac mail clients has you covered. Better features? A sleeker interface? More raw power? Greater simplicity? Whatever you seek, you’ll find it on the App Store, and in this roundup.

Apple Mail 6

Mail 6 sports a small handful of new features, and much of what it does offer owes more to features introduced in Mountain Lion OS X than to anything specific to Mail itself.

Besides improving Safari’s ability to email webpages in various forms, and integrating Mountain Lion’s systemwide notification features, Mail 6 strengthens its predecessor’s already amped-up search powers. The Lion upgrade sharpened Mail’s ability to find messages across multiple mailboxes, but Mountain Lion enhances its ability to find words and phrases within individual messages.

The new VIP feature is more of a snooze. You can add people to or remove them from your roster of special senders only within individual messages, not from a message list itself. And the VIP feature can do little that Smart Mailboxes and mailbox rules couldn’t do already.

That said, Mail remains a dependable, pleasant workhorse of a client. And it’s among the few non-Microsoft mail programs that support Exchange email.

Full Review: Apple Mail 6 ()

Mozilla Thunderbird

If you like building things from scratch, Thunderbird may be your dream come true. This free, open-source client from Mozilla, makers of Firefox, lets you bolt various extensions onto the basic email client—or program your own extensions.

By default, Thunderbird is extremely bare-bones, with a last-decade interface and few of its rivals’ fancier features. Add-ons can help fill it out; but they are spotty and difficult to find, and they tend to favor obscure open-source services over more-popular options. I wasn’t impressed with Thunderbird’s security features, which sometimes didn’t flag dubious messages.

Thunderbird’s search, however, is outstanding, with clever filtering abilities and an appealing interface. I can’t believe that some wily rival hasn’t yet swiped the idea. Unfortunately, that excellent feature isn’t enough to persuade me to recommend Thunderbird as a whole.

Full Review: Mozilla Thunderbird ()

Freron MailMate 1.5

Gray, bland, and humorless, MailMate compensates for its lack of charm with astonishing efficiency and power. Like a trusted accountant, it may not be the life of the party, but it tackles complex jobs with grim relish.

MailMate’s decision to use text-based buttons instead of icons sacrifices visual flair in return for clarity and ease of use. It lacks the ornamentation of most other clients, but offers mind-boggling horsepower under the hood.

Best Mail Client For Mac Os X

MailMate packs the most thorough search abilities I’ve seen in an email client. Sure, Gmail can find names or addresses, and it can add dates to your calendar. But can it sort messages by server domain, or by a prefix in their subject lines? Can it display statistics about your mail, based on these criteria? MailMate can.

I don’t know anyone who has been longing for these features, but I’m sure that such users exist. And for them, this proudly all-business app will be like manna from the email gods.

Full Review: MailMate 1.5 ()

Postbox 3

Postbox starts with Apple Mail’s friendliness and ease of use, and then adds a host of why-didn’t-anyone-else-think-of-that features.

From its poise and polish, you’d never know that Postbox was built on Thunderbird’s framework. I liked its eye-pleasing interface, and especially its superb Inspector pane, which plucks links, dates, addresses, package tracking numbers, and more from the body of your message, and displays them for at-a-glance discovery.

Postbox’s designers have thoughtfully built in ways to tie the program to Gmail, Evernote, Dropbox, and even LinkedIn. And unique among the clients I’ve tested, Postbox lets you save precrafted email responses easily, and then deploy them with a few quick clicks. If you have to send out a lot of form email messages, this feature could spare your hands and wrists some serious repetitive stress.

Microsoft Office users, take note: Postbox does not support Exchange. But otherwise, anyone who has grown weary of Apple Mail's limitations will find Postbox, at just $10, an inexpensive and impressive step up.

Full Review: Postbox 3 ()

Arcode Inky

If you need access to your different email accounts in one place, or if you need a consistent interface in a many locations, try Inky. This beautifully designed, free client stores your account information—but not your message—securely in the cloud.

After you create an Inky account, the program will quickly set up your IMAP- or POP-based mailboxes. (IMAP messages may take a while to show up, but they’ll get there eventually.) Thenceforth, when you log in on that computer or anywhere else, Inky will have all your mail waiting for you.

The program also recognizes and categorizes different kinds of messages, from daily deals to social media notices, in custom views that you can switch on or off in its settings.

The only drawback of this otherwise sterling program is that Inky will periodically bug you to tell your friends about it. But considering how impressively it performs, you may want to spread the word anyway.

Best Apple Mail App For Mac

Full Review: Inky ()

Macsimize MailForge 3

Many fans of Eudora, the trusty email client, were crestfallen when Mac OS X Lion shut down support for PowerPC-based programs. Macsimize Software’s MailForge has resurrected Eudora in a new, Mountain Lion-friendly incarnation. Unfortunately, though it may be from the past, it’s anything but a blast.

From its chunky interface—the text formatting icons look disturbingly similar to the ones from the PC version of Microsoft Word—to its lack of modern conveniences (like automatic account setup, inline image display, and threaded messages), MailForge feels like a relic from a late and unlamented decade. It can import mail only from Eudora, and its ungainly search feature leaves much to be desired.

Eudora enthusiasts may see MailForge as the answer to their prayers. But if you lack any very strong nostalgia for the email clients of yore, you’ll find plenty of better and less expensive options out there.

Full Review: Macsimize MailForge 3 ()

Email Pro for Gmail, MailPop Pro for Gmail

These two lightweight Gmail-only clients—think of them as Web browsers that can navigate to only Gmail—offer basic functions at pocket-change prices. Both of them can display Gmail in a simplified mobile view or in a more complex desktop view. And both of them hang out in your menubar, as icons that summon pop-down windows.

To me, Email Pro seemed the better choice. It has a more colorful and intuitive interface, and it explicitly tells you when it is loading messages, instead of just showing a blank window. I also liked its ability to make Gmail my desktop background, persistently hanging out behind my other apps.

The relatively monochromatic MailPop Pro switches between its various views more easily than Email Pro does, and it offers more keyboard shortcuts. But it costs buck more, and has little else to distinguish it. Users who want convenient, no-frills access to Gmail without having to fire up a Web browser might as well stick with Email Pro instead.

Full Review: Email Pro for Gmail ()

Full Review: MailPop Pro for Gmail ()

Sparrow 1.3.1

Google liked this slender, appealing client so much that it bought the entire company. Even though its creators aren’t updating the client anymore, it’s still available on the Mac App Store (use at your own risk, since you won't be able to get much support). And its pleasantly clean and simple interface—strongly reminiscent of Inky, though Sparrow came first—has won the program more than a few fans.

All in all, Sparrow is an attractive choice for anyone who wants a convenient front-end app for Gmail. It won’t bog you down with features you don’t need, nor will it make you feel as if you were using some hastily engineered workaround.

Client

Full Review: Sparrow 1.3.1 ()

Postcards from the future

If these clients don't seem quite right for you, keep your eyes peeled for two new Mac clients that are in development as of this writing.

Mailplane, a Gmail client that adds tighter integration with the Mac OS, is currently in beta for version 3.0. Among other new features, it will incorporate Gmail’s latest interface.

The mysterious Unibox promises “a whole new approach to email on the Mac.” The developer has been teasing prospective users by posting snippets of the client's crisp, swanky interface on its blog. At press time, Unibox’s creators still listed it as “coming in early 2013.”

Mac email users have a wider array of higher-quality, better-looking apps to choose from than ever before. Whatever you need email for, the odds are excellent that you’ll find a well-crafted option that delivers what you want.

Google Email Client For Mac

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Complex, ugly, boring — that was what I thought of my Mac’s Mail app every time I opened it. Enjoying the likes of Airmail and Kiwi5 Apple Mail Alternatives for Mac OS X5 Apple Mail Alternatives for Mac OS XEvery Mac comes with a free email application, but it's not the be-all and end-all of OS X email solutions. Here's five of the best alternatives.Read More and knowing the benefits of using a third-party mail appChoose a Third-Party Mac Mail App for All These BenefitsChoose a Third-Party Mac Mail App for All These BenefitsLooking for a new Mac email client? Tired of Apple Mail? Many third-party clients are worth considering, each packed with features either missing or lacking in Mail.app.Read More might have had something to do with it.

Recently, I decided to switch to default Mac appsThe Best Default Mac Apps That You Shouldn't Need to ReplaceThe Best Default Mac Apps That You Shouldn't Need to ReplaceHere are some of the best default, pre-installed, native Mac apps worth using. Don't ditch them before you try them!Read More to cut down on app clutter. As part of that switch, I set up Mac Mail and decided to try it for a week. I was sure I would give it up in two days tops.

Two months later, I’m still using Mac Mail, and have come to love it. I think that’s because I took the time to set it up right. I made email processing as painless as possible with these six steps. So can you!

Customize the Toolbar

Want to deal with emails super fast? Set up the toolbar to your satisfaction and use one-click buttons to take action on emails. That’s so much better than fumbling with menu options or keyboard shortcuts that you can’t remember.

To configure the toolbar, right-click on it and select Customize Toolbar… from the context menu. You’ll now see a dialog box with all the icons you can drag and drop onto the toolbar where you want them to show up. When this dialog box is active, you can also drag icons off the toolbar to get rid of them or move them around to rearrange them.

Here are the icon changes I would recommend:

  • Remove Delete — It’s easier to swipe left (on macOS Sierra) or hit the delete key to delete an email.
  • Remove Reply All — Keeping the Reply All button where you might click on it without meaning to is a recipe for disaster.
  • Add Unread / Read — This one’s handy for marking emails as read (or unread) in bulk.
  • Add Move selected messages — This saves you from having to expand/collapse sidebar folders to drag and drop emails to. Trust me, selecting folders to move emails is so much simpler from a nested menu hidden behind a toolbar icon.
  • Add Sidebar — Keep the sidebar out of sight but easy to access with this sidebar toggle icon for the toolbar.

Note — Some toolbar icons come in pairs. Delete and Junk, for example. But you’ll also find individual icons for these actions if you want to add or drop one of them.

Hide Distracting Visual Elements

The first thing I do when I install a new app is clean up its interface. I tuck away all the elements that get in the way and keep only the most used ones in sight. I did the same for Apple Mail by hiding:

  • List Previews — These are the first couple of lines of email text you see in the messages column. I prefer to keep them hidden because I can tell what an email is about from the subject line — for the most important emails anyway. Chances are you can too. To make list previews disappear, under Mail > Preferences… > Viewing, select None from the List Preview dropdown menu.
  • Mailbox Folders — For each email account, Mac Mail creates a dedicated mailbox to store emails that belong to a particular folder or label. Collapse these mailboxes by clicking on the Hide link that appears when you hover over the name of a mailbox in the sidebar.
  • Tab Bar — Hide the tab bar by unchecking the Show Tab Bar option in the View menu. The tab bar reappears by itself when you create a new tab, but stays out of your way when you have a single tab active.
  • Favorites Bar — If you prefer to switch between mailboxes from the sidebar like I do, the favorites bar feels redundant. Go ahead and hide it by clicking on View > Hide Favorites Bar.
  • Sidebar — I know I just said I switch mailboxes from the sidebar, so why would I hide the it? Well, I access only the Inbox mailbox or the unified inbox often. As long as I select that before I hide the sidebar, I’m good. To access other mailboxes, I can toggle the sidebar anytime using the sidebar icon I added while customizing the toolbar.

Here’s how Mac Mail looks after I cleaned it up:

Simplify Email Searches

You won’t have to search too hard to find any important email if you have a system in place to direct emails where they belong. Here are my suggestions for doing that.

Use Flags

Flags are the Mac Mail equivalent of stars/favorites. Use them to highlight emails that, say, you refer to often or ones that you need to take action on soon. These emails will then show up under the Flagged mailbox in the sidebar. Pick flags of different colors to identify different types of important emails.

To be honest, I don’t use flags myself, because I find those colorful flag symbols disturbing. They seem to say “How could you forget about this?” all the time instead of saying “Here’s what you need!” the way yellow star icons do.

Set Up Smart Mailboxes and Mailbox Rules

These two Mac Mail features work more or less like filters in Gmail4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much Email4 Smart Gmail Filters That Help You Deal with Too Much EmailDecluttering and organizing your Gmail inbox is a daily chore. There is a smarter way to do it. Create four basic types of filters in Gmail to sort your emails right automatically.Read More. Both smart mailboxes and mailbox rules isolate emails that match the criteria you specify. The difference is that rules also take follow-up action on the emails.

For example, let’s say you want to keep all communication from makeuseof.com in a quick-access section. You also want to move incoming MakeUseOf Deals emails to a dedicated folder. In that case, you can:

  • Create a smart mailbox for all emails from MakeUseOf. Click on Mailbox > New Smart Mailbox… Next, as shown in the image below, specify that you want to isolate all messages that contain @makeuseof.com in the From field. Hit Ok to create the mailbox.This new smart mailbox shows up under Smart Mailboxes in the sidebar. Deleting this mailbox doesn’t delete its contents from your inbox.
  • Create a mailbox rule to move MakeUseOf Deals to a folder of your choice automatically. Under Mail > Preferences > Rules, click on the Add Rule button. You should now see a popup like the one that came up when you created a smart mailbox above.You’ll notice that in this new popup, you can not only specify which emails you want to identify, but also what you want Mail to do with them. Set up this rule as shown in the snapshot below. Rules support multiple actions, so you can also, say, color code these emails if you wish.

You might want to set up these essential smart mailboxesFive Essential Smart Mailboxes For Apple Mail [Mac]Five Essential Smart Mailboxes For Apple Mail [Mac]Read More and simple mailbox rules for Apple Mail2 Simple Apple Mail Rules To Better Deal With Incoming Emails [Mac]2 Simple Apple Mail Rules To Better Deal With Incoming Emails [Mac]Read More.

When you use these mail filtering features in tandem with the search box, you can bring up any email in just a few seconds. The search box supports natural language search, by the way.

Make It Easier to Fight Email Addiction

Most email apps do their best to convince you that the world will end if you don’t check your emailWhat Happened When I Went Completely Offline For A WeekWhat Happened When I Went Completely Offline For A WeekLiving in the Internet era has changed us to such an extent that the idea of having to live completely offline even for a little while sounds like a prison sentence. But it really isn't.Read More right this instant. You and I both know that isn’t true, and it’s up to us to counter that argument, which takes the form of intrusive notifications.

I made the following changes to make email feel more of a convenience and less of an obligation. See if they could help you:

  • No Dock icon — Yes, I got rid of the dock icon for Mail to avoid seeing the unread count, which I can never manage to ignore. So unless I have the Mail app open, I don’t see the unread count no matter how many emails have piled up in my inbox.
  • Banner style alerts for notifications — Under System Preferences > Notifications > Mail, pick Banners under Mail Alert Style. Unlike Alerts, Banner notifications disappear automatically.
  • Keyboard shortcut for Notification Center’s Do Not Disturb mode — Under System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control, check the box for Turn Do Not Disturb On/Off. Also, memorize its default shortcut or add one of your own (I use F10). Now you can banish all notifications when you’re working and bring them back with the press of a key.

Check Mailbox Mapping

Did you set up a new account in Mac Mail? Hop over to Mail > Preferences > Accounts > Mailbox Behaviors for that account. There, check that the mailboxes in Mac Mail correspond to the right ones in your email account. They usually do, but it doesn’t hurt to check. And if your mails are getting all mixed up, you now know where the problem could lie.

Unsubscribe From Folders You Don’t Use Often

Mac Mail subscribes to all the folders/labels in your email account by default. If there’s any folder that you need for organization, but almost never check, think about unsubscribing from it in Mac Mail.

To unsubscribe from a folder in the Mail app, first right-click on that folder in the sidebar and select Get Account Info. This brings you to Account Info > Subscription List, from where you can unsubscribe from the selected folder.

For some reason, I couldn’t see any of my mail folders in the subscription list even though I had subscribed to them. I was still able to unsubscribe from unneeded folders from my webmail account, which happens to be a Gmail account. I deselected the Show in IMAP checkbox for the relevant folder under Settings > Labels in Gmail.

Get a Few Mac Mail Plugins

Apple Mail supports plugins, so you’ll want to install a few to add features you wish Mail had or to enhance your Mail experience. The popular MailButler plugin is a good place to begin.

MailButler adds tools for tasks like snoozing, scheduling, and tracking emails. Its basic version is free, and packs features like Undo Send, attachment reminders, and cloud uploads. You also get to use 30 Professional actions per month — each use of a Pro feature constitutes an action. The premium plans begin at 7.95 Euros per month.

Install Herald if you would like to process emails right from their notification banners.

If you want to organise emails better and identify them quicker, get MailTags. It allows you to add metadata such as keywords, notes, and due dates to emails.

There are also a few more Mac Mail plugins you’ll want to check out.

Dig Deeper Into Apple Mail Features and Settings

Yes, there’s a lot more you can do with Mac Mail. Annotate images, schedule emailsHow to Schedule Email on Your MacHow to Schedule Email on Your MacApple's Mail app doesn't come with a scheduler by default, but you can use Automator or a third-party plugin to add 'send later' functionality.Read More, and make emails prettier with Stationery templatesBeautify Your Emails With Apple's Mail StationeryBeautify Your Emails With Apple's Mail StationeryTake your emails from plain text to personal. Apple's Mail includes often-overlooked attractive Stationery templates for making your messages stand out.Read More, for starters. For now though, I have focused on one-time changes that will set the stage for stress-free email management6 Simple Tricks to Reduce Email Stress6 Simple Tricks to Reduce Email StressDealing with email is the best part of my day. Said no one ever. You need all the tips you can get to manage your email inbox? We can help you out!Read More. After you make these changes, go through the various tabs under Mail > Preferences to set up Mail just so. It might change your perception of Mac Mail for the better.

What bugs you about your Mac’s built-in mail client? Have you found a way to fix it? Share your Apple Mail tips and tricks with us!

Image Credits: NOBUHIRO ASADA/Shutterstock

Explore more about: Apple Mail, Desktop Email Client, Email Tips, macOS Sierra.

Best Email Client For Mac

  1. I was told by Telstra Australia that they no longer support Apple mail then hang up on me. For over a week I have been trying the solve the problem because I can no longer receive or send mail. HELP Please

  2. Thank-you for this very timely tutorial! I was getting frustrated with Mail and had head about new mail clients like Polymail ... but they weren't quite living up to their hype. It's great to see that there were some things I didn't know about Mail that I now know. Thanks again!