Best Mac Client App For Gmail

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The Mac’s default Mail application (also referred to as “” or “Apple Mail”) has a somewhat checkered past.

While provides a free, full-featured email client on every Mac and has even pioneered some innovative features over the years (like VIP and Handoff), it’s definitely not for everyone. It can be buggy, occasionally has issues playing nice with Gmail, and lacks some more advanced features that are present (and have been present for years) in other third-party email clients.

If you use plug-ins to extend’s functionality, Apple has a history of making changes that cause developers to re-write their plugins, resulting in a broken email workflow while you wait for updates.

Windows 10 users have a lot of viable alternatives for a Gmail client solution. Most of them are free, they all work pretty well, and all of them are an easy replacement for Mail or Outlook. As a Windows 10 and Gmail user, I tried a range of Gmail apps for Windows 10 and I list some of the ones that impressed me the most below.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of excellent third-party email clients that aim to fix’s shortcomings. In this article, we’ll take a look at several of the more popular options and introduce you to our favorite.

Criteria for the Best Email App

In selecting the best email app for macOS, we used the following criteria to select the winner:

  • Overall Design — Dealing with email can be annoying, and using a poorly-designed email client can compound the frustration factor. The email client you decide to use should provide you with a well-designed user interface that aids you in your quest for Inbox Zero.
  • Ease of use — The email client you use should give you the tools you need to get the job done while staying out of the way as much as possible. You want to focus on reading and responding to email, not navigating complex menus or trying to figure out basic functions.
  • Innovative Features — As the amount of email we receive grows over time, the way we deal with it must evolve. Developers are starting to reconsider how we fundamentally deal with the email we receive, and it is important that we consider innovative features that make it easier (and more enjoyable).
  • Support for Multiple Account Types — The best third-party email clients are flexible enough to offer support for many different types of accounts, such as Gmail, iCloud, O365, Yahoo, Exchange, IMAP, etc. If an email client doesn’t support your email provider, then it’s just not an option for you — no matter how awesome it looks.
  • Support for Gmail-Style Shortcuts — If you’ve ever used Gmail keyboard shortcuts, you probably can’t imagine not using them since they can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend in your email client. For example, to archive a message in Gmail, you just have to press the “e” key, compared to using “Shift + Command + A” in (you can view a complete list of Gmail keyboard shortcuts by pressing “?” in Gmail). These shortcuts can be a game-changer for how you read and respond to email, so it’s important that the best third-party email client for Mac support these.
  • Update Schedule — The email client you use should have a track record of being well-supported to minimize the risk of it suddenly disappearing, forcing you to figure out a new tool for your email workflow.
  • Integration with Other Apps/Services — Email doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Many emails you receive have a task associated with them or a file you need to save for later, so it makes sense that you should be able to link that email message to your task management system (like Things 3, our favorite GTD app) or a cloud storage solution like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive.
  • Customization/Widgets — A good email client is flexible enough to support customization. Email is personal, and some email clients allow you to install widgets or plugins that can extend the core functionality, enabling you to create a very custom application that meets your specific email needs on any device.
  • Plays Nice with IMAP Folders — Some apps (rather sneakily) create additional IMAP folders for extended functionality, which (at best) creates additional clutter when you access your email outside of that email client, and (at worst) can cause major problems in your email-based workflow (i.e., when you can’t find a message because it’s actually sitting in a “hidden” folder).

Get Your Email Under Control: Check out our free guide for getting your email inbox calm and under control. Download it here.

Our Favorite Email App: Spark

Spark is our favorite third-party email client for the Mac because it has a great combination of powerful features and a clean, well-designed user interface. It’s a great productivity tool for individual users, and also offers some innovative features for teams that need to collaborate on emails together.

Everywhere you look in Spark, there are features focused on making email better. The first thing you’ll notice is the Smart Inbox, which collects emails from all of your accounts and automatically organizes them into categories like Notifications, Newsletters, Personal, and Seen. This shows you the real emails from real people first so you can respond to the things that are important and save the rest for later.

Another unique feature in Spark is Quick Replies, which allows you to send short, templated responses. These are handy when you need to indicate that you’ve received or seen an email but don’t necessarily need to type out a lengthy reply. And if the message doesn’t require a response, you can use 4 different swipe gestures to mark it as read, archive it, pin it for later, or delete it entirely.

One of the things that Apple Mail gets right is the support for smart mailboxes. These allow you to create custom mailbox folders that automatically organize your email messages based on criteria like who it’s from, what’s in the subject line, or what day it was received. Once you set up and use smart folders in Apple Mail, it can be hard to switch to an email client that doesn’t support it. Fortunately, Spark has support for smart mailboxes but they are even easier to create thanks to the built-in smart search feature. Smart search appears all over the place in Spark, and functions a lot like Spotlight for your email client. All you have to do is start typing and Spark instantly shows you the available options.

Spark also has a built-in calendar view, which can be useful when replying to a message requesting a call or meeting at a specific time. But what makes this feature really useful is the way it’s implemented. There are other email apps that build in calendaring functionality, but it’s either self-contained or uses a weird syncing protocol (I’m looking at you, Outlook). Spark does it a little bit differently. If you use something like Google or iCloud and then create calendar events in Spark, they will instantly show up on all your calendars in all your apps (like Fantastical or BusyCal). The difference is subtle, but important — Spark is not trying to be your calendar, it’s just allowing you to access your calendar. There are some obvious limitations with this based on your account and service type. Such as, if you set up a standard IMAP account in Spark, the calendar view isn’t going to help you, but it is nice for the account types that support it.

In addition to Google and iCloud, Spark supports quite a few different email account types, including:

  • Yahoo
  • GoDaddy
  • Aol Mail
  • Hotmail
  • Outlook
  • Office 365
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • GMX
  • Zoho
  • Fastmail

Spark also integrates directly with other productivity apps like Things, OmniFocus, and Bear, just to name a few. While the integrations provide much of the standard functionality available in other third-party email apps (like adding a due date for a task or choosing a notebook for reference material), the export window is customized to match the style of the service you are using. You can add personal info before you export, and some services allow you additional options like just copying the link to the message or exporting the message as a PDF.

There are tons of other features that make Spark a great choice as your personal email client. Some of our favorites are email templates (so you don’t have to create your message from scratch every time), the ability to send messages later, follow up reminders, snoozing email messages, and customizable keyboard shortcuts (you can just click a button to use the standard set from Gmail or even Apple Mail if you prefer). But Spark also includes features that make it a great solution as a team-based email tool.

At first glance, it may be difficult to see the value or need for team-based email, and that’s okay. If you never use Spark’s collaboration features, it’s still an incredible email client. But sometimes it can be handy to have a conversation about an email, like when sending a proposal to a potential customer, and Spark allows you to do this from within the email client itself.

Spark keeps all comments private, allowing your teammates to chime in before sending so you can create a better response. This is also a MUCH better method for keeping people “in the loop” than the traditional CC: or BCC: method which just leads to cluttered inboxes. You can also attach files to your comments so that all related client documents are kept together. You can even create a secure weblink from any message that can be accessed via a web browser, which is a great way to integrate Spark with other web-based tools like a CRM.

Spark also has an interesting pricing model built on its unique team-based collaborative features. If you use Spark for personal use, it’s completely free. The free version even allows you to get started with the team features, giving you up to 5GB of team file storage, 2 active collaborators (perfect if you work with an assistant), and up to 5 email templates. You can upgrade to the Premium plan for a larger team, which includes 10GB per team member of file storage, unlimited collaborators, unlimited email templates, and even advanced link sharing options. The Premium plan is $7.99/user per month (or $6.39/user per month if billed annually).

Download Spark on the Mac App Store for Free.

A VERY Close Second: Airmail

Airmail is marketed as being a “lightning-fast email client for Mac,” and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s extremely quick and responsive and looks absolutely beautiful. Everything about Airmail is well-polished from a design perspective, and it just looks and feels like a native Mac application.

But, Airmail is more than just a pretty face — it’s also a very powerful email client with a lot of great features that lacks, like support for composing messages in Markdown. The compose window in Airmail actually allows you to compose in Markdown or HTML by opening up a side-by-side interface where you type on the left and your formatted text is displayed on the right. This visual preview of your message can be really useful as you type your message to make sure you don’t miss anything that would result in broken links or strange-looking text.

When it comes to receiving messages, Airmail takes a task-based approach that may be an acquired taste if you’re coming from Each message in Airmail can be marked as To Do, Memo, or Done. Selecting one of these options will apply an identifier (similar to a tag) to the message and move it to the appropriate container inside of Airmail.

A To Do is (just like it sounds) something you need to do or take action on. For example, if your boss asked you to send an updated report, or your spouse emailed you to pick up something from the store on your way home, you might classify that as a To Do.

Once a task is completed, it is marked as Done, while a Memo is defined by Airmail’s support documentation as something that you need to memorize or store for later.

Of course, you don’t have to use these features. If the idea of managing tasks from your inbox doesn’t appeal to you, Airmail also integrates with many productivity applications like BusyCal, OmniFocus, and Things. Creating a calendar event or a task with a link to the original email message is easy: just right-click (control-click or two-finger tap) on the email, select Send To, and then select the application to which you want to send the email link.

Airmail integrates with quite a few applications and includes a Plugin Framework API that developers can use to integrate their apps with Airmail. There’s a ridiculously long list of productivity applications Airmail supports, including OmniFocus, Things, BusyCal, Evernote, DEVONthink, 2Do, Cardhop, Fantastical, Trello, Bear, Droplr, Todoist, Trello, Asana, and many more.

Airmail also includes several features that will be appreciated by power users, like AppleScript support and the ability to delay sending a message after hitting the Send button (giving you a chance to “undo” that angry email you sent and regretted a few seconds later). For Gmail users, Airmail supports Gmail keyboard shortcuts as well, and while the complete list is not supported, a surprising number of them are.

Airmail is great, but there are a couple of things that keep us from naming Airmail as our favorite third-party email client. One minor complaint we have with Airmail is the way that it handles your IMAP folders — it actually creates a few nested folders inside of an Airmail folder that it uses to handle email-based tasks. But the bigger issue is reliability. In our testing, we noticed Airmail will occasionally not send your message (and we weren’t the only ones). It appears this issue has been addressed in newer versions, but having a message fail to send when you think it has been sent is a big problem. It’s quite possible you won’t have any issues with this, but it’s something you need to be aware of.

That said, Airmail is still a great email app overall. If you were to choose Airmail simply for the beautiful coat of paint, what you’ll find underneath is a very versatile email client that will probably meet your email needs and then some. Airmail is also a one-time cost, so if Spark’s pricing model makes you a little bit nervous and you’d rather pay for your personal email client, Airmail is a great alternative.

Airmail is available in the Mac App Store for $9.99.

Get Your Email Under Control: Check out our free guide for getting your email inbox calm and under control. Download it here.

The Best Email App for Power Users: MailMate


If you’re looking for something more powerful than both Spark or Airmail, you might want to check out MailMate. Let me say at the beginning that MailMate is definitely not for everyone. The interface is a far cry from both Spark and Airmail, but if your goal is simply to crank through email as quickly and efficiently as possible, MailMate could be for you.

MailMate is a “keyboard-centric” mail client with a text-based approach to email. MailMate also supports more Gmail keyboard shortcuts than any other app except MailPlane, and you can even use your own custom keybindings if you want.


Because MailMate aims to be completely standards-compliant, it actually doesn’t even support formatted text. To add any basic formatting to your message (italics, bold, bullet lists, links), you must do it in Markdown. If you’re not used to writing in Markdown, it may take some getting used to. But, if you use Markdown frequently, then you’ll have no trouble picking up MailMate.

MailMate also offers several unique layout options, like a widescreen layout and special views to show thread arcs and email statistics. MailMate also has some of the most powerful search tools we’ve seen, rivaling Google’s web interface in terms of power and flexibility.

MailMate includes extensions (which it calls “bundles”) that allow integration with many different productivity applications, and the bundles that are shipped with MailMate go beyond the basic integrations that are found in most other third-party email clients. For example, MailMate is the only app that supports sending either a link to the original message or a copy of the message itself to OmniFocus (by using “Add” or “Add with Summary”).

These bundles are also built on the default message URL schemes instead of using proprietary formats like both Spark and Airmail do. Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you receive an email that you need to do something for, but you don’t want to do it right now. With any of the email clients we’ve mentioned so far, you can send that message to your task manager and it will create a task out of the message and include a link back to the original message. When you are ready to take action, you can click that link and go straight to the message — no trying to find it in your email client, which is a huge time saver.

But, if you look closely at the link in both Spark and Airmail, they are proprietary links. The address will start with either spark:// or airmail:// respectively. This means when you click on the link, it will open directly in Spark or Airmail. Which is fine if you’re all in with one of those email clients, but if you’re on a Mac where you don’t have those apps installed, you can’t get to the message. If you send an email to your task manager in Spark or Airmail for iOS, you’ll have to use the Mac counterpart if you want to access the message later. MailMate uses the default message format (message://), which allows the message to open in any email client (and will use the one you set as the system default automatically). This isn’t a big deal, but if you are thinking of using different email clients on both your mobile and desktop devices, it’s something you should be aware of.

MailMate is one of the most expensive email clients we reviewed, and is available for $50 from the developer’s website (there is a 30-day trial available). At that price, MailMate is definitely not for everyone — in fact, it’s not for most people. The interface is very functional, but also pretty boring. If looks are important to you, you won’t like MailMate. But, if you’re looking for the most powerful and most standards-compliant email client available, you write in Markdown frequently, and the price tag doesn’t scare you away, you might want to check it out.

Other Options


Postbox was previously our runner up, and is still a great email client with several unique features that are well thought out. For example, instead of just having one unified inbox, Postbox allows you to have “account groups” that can separate or blend work and personal accounts — a very useful feature if you have a lot of email accounts you’re required to manage. Postbox also has a Focus Pane which allows you to quickly filter email to find what you’re looking for. For example, you could quickly find an email from a specific person received yesterday that has an attachment. Another great feature in Postbox is support for Pre-Made Responses. This is very similar to the “Canned Responses” feature in Google Labs (which is available in the Gmail web interface), but it doesn’t require that you have a Gmail account in order to use them and allows you to plug in tokens like first name or company.

Postbox also has a time tracker feature when responding to email so you can see how long you’ve spent composing your message, as well as a word count. When you’re ready to send your message, Postbox also has domain fencing that can prevent you from sending an email from the wrong account. And the Quick Bar is sort of like Spotlight for your email client, quickly allowing you to jump to any account, folder, or message using the keyboard. It also supports emojis, tagging, TouchBar support, and cloud file sharing (so you can attach large files to emails without cluttering up the recipient’s inbox). Postbox even has built-in anti-tracking, allowing you to block tracking pixels attached to some email messages.

Postbox is also well-supported by the developers and receives consistent updates. Honestly, the main reason it’s not a runner up pick anymore is simply the emergence of Spark. Postbox is still a great email client, albeit a pricey one when compared to Spark or Airmail, and the interface is a little more cluttered because of all the features it supports.

Postbox is $40 and be purchased directly from the developer’s website. There’s a 30-day free trial and a 60-day money back guarantee, so you basically have 90 days to try it out and see if it’s for you. Because all sales are handled through their website, they also offer upgrade pricing for owners of previous versions.


One aspect of traditional email that can easily be overlooked is security. There are services that provide end-to-end encryption for the email messages you send and receive, but they can be a hassle to set up. Canary is an email app that handles it all for you by implementing the OpenPGP standard in a beautifully-designed email interface. You don’t have to think about it, and you can feel confident that only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what you send.

Canary also has some great features, like a focused inbox, natural language search, smart filters, and a built-in cleaner that allows you to automatically find and delete unwanted emails. There’s also read notifications, email templates, the ability to snooze emails until later, and a one-click unsubscribe feature so you don’t have to search for those unsubscribe links.

Unfortunately, Canary doesn’t play well with other productivity apps. It integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive which is nice for taming attachments, but it doesn’t offer direct integration with a task manager like Spark, Airmail, and MailMate do. But if simple security is important to you, check out Canary. It’s available for $19.99 on the Mac App Store, but is also included with a SetApp subscription.


Polymail is designed to be an email app for teams. Like Spark, it allows teams to communicate in real time with mentions and inline comments, and with email sharing you can turn any message into a sharable web link for your team to collaborate on. Polymail also integrates directly with apps your team might already be using, like Slack and Salesforce.

What makes Polymail really interesting is the built-in automation and sequences features. By automating manual tasks like email follow-up and scheduling meetings, your team can focus on the work that matters most. Sequences allows you to send out multi-stage email campaigns right from the app, and even gives you detailed reporting showing who opened, clicked, unsubscribed, or replied to your messages.

Unfortunately, Polymail is pretty expensive and not a great option for individuals. It starts at $10/user per month for the Basic Plan, and the Premium Plan (which includes the sequences) is $24/user per month. We don’t recommend Polymail for most people, but if you’re looking for a powerful team email client that integrates with Salesforce and Slack, you might want to give it a look (if you’re not scared off by the price).


The Outlook approach to email is to integrate everything (calendar, tasks, email) into one ecosystem, which definitely isn’t for everyone and we personally don’t like it. It’s built from the ground up to support Microsoft Exchange, which combines everything into a somewhat proprietary format. So if you use Exchange-based email (popular in corporate settings), you might be stuck using Outlook as many third-party apps have limited support for the Exchange protocol.

Outlook is also only available as part of an Office 365 subscription, which is pretty expensive ($6.99/month or $69/year for Personal, $9.99/month or $99/year for Home). An Office 365 subscription also includes other Microsoft office products like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, so if you need or already use those apps it might be worth looking into. Interestingly, you can buy Office Home & Student 2019 for $149, but it doesn’t include Outlook. So if you use Microsoft Office already or rely on the Exchange email protocol, Outlook may not be a bad option. Otherwise, the hefty subscription simply isn’t worth it.


If you prefer the Gmail web interface, MailPlane is a great option since it basically runs the Gmail web app inside of an application wrapper. This allows you to use the complete library of Gmail-supported keyboard shortcuts as well as Gmail plugins (like Boomerang) and even gives you access to Google Inbox while still offering some native app advantages, like Evernote and OmniFocus integration (among others). At $29.95, it’s specifically targeted for Gmail users who love the Gmail web interface but want the advantages of a native Mac app.


Unibox offers a people-centric approach to email, organizing your messages and conversations by person. The list of contacts on the left-hand side of the screen is sorted by date, but each person will appear in the list only once. Selecting a contact will reveal all your conversations with that person, similar to the Messages app. It’s a very different (and unique) approach to email, but is so non-traditional that it has a fairly steep learning curve. If organizing your messages by person sounds appealing to you, give UniBox ($20 on the Mac App Store, included with a SetApp subscription) a look.

Mail Pilot

Mail Pilot began as a Kickstarter campaign promising a a new (and better) email workflow. Mail Pilot treats your emails like tasks, which is an approach we don’t love. Yes, many messages will require you to take action, but when you have tasks in your email client and tasks in a task manager (like Things) it’s easy to lose track of what is where and what you need to be doing. Ideally, your productivity system should have a single source of truth for what needs to get done (and it isn’t your email client). That doesn’t mean it can’t work for you though, so if you like the idea of assigning due dates to your email and organizing them by multiple priority levels check out Mail Pilot.

As of this writing, Mail Pilot pricing is pretty confusing. Mail Pilot 2 was removed from sale by the developer over a year ago and at the same time version 3 was announced via Medium. The website indicates that there are 2 versions available for pre-order: Carbon Fiber which is a one time purchase of $19.99 (50% off for pre-order), and a Yacht Club membership which is $4.99/month but also includes a weird 4-month 50% pre-order discount. The subscription gives you a couple additional features plus access to a Slack community and promises of free mobile apps if they release them. Fortunately, there is a Public Preview edition you can download for free first.

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There is no single third-party email client that is perfect for everyone, but we believe Spark is the best option for most people because of its powerful features and great design. If Spark’s pricing model makes you nervous, you prefer something a little more customizable, or need an integration with a productivity app that Spark doesn’t offer, check out Airmail. And if you’re looking for the most powerful, most flexible, most efficient, and most standards-compliant email client available (regardless of cost and looks), check out MailMate.

Get Your Email Under Control: Check out our free guide for getting your email inbox calm and under control. Download it here.

I’m still lamenting the death of SparrowSparrow - A New Gmail Desktop Client for Mac UsersSparrow - A New Gmail Desktop Client for Mac UsersRead More, a fantastic mail app that was acquired by Google and thrown into the recycle bin. I’m not over it yet. Since Sparrow’s untimely demise, I’ve tried a number of alternatives to find the best way to use Gmail on a Mac.

A few specific things are important in my search. My highest priorities are support for Gmail labels and stars, multiple-account support, sorting options, and, if possible, a pleasing interface. Of these, strong support for Gmail labelling is the most important, as I use it to manage an overwhelming amount of communication.

Here’s what I found.

Apps That Didn’t Make the Cut

First, let’s take a quick look at which desktop clients aren’t in this review. There are a few notable ones here, and I’ll address them quickly. I didn’t include Apple MailHow to Make Apple Mail a Better Desktop Email ClientHow to Make Apple Mail a Better Desktop Email ClientTake the time to set up Apple's boring email client just right, and make email processing as painless as possible.Read More, because it just doesn’t work all that well with Gmail. You can copy emails to folders to mimic the labelling functionality, but there’s no way to label an email and leave it in your inbox. It works, but it’s not great.

Inky, Thunderbird, and MailPilot weren’t included because they don’t have label support. To be fair, some of the apps below aren’t great with labels either. But they have some cool features that seem worth including. MailPlane and Kiwi are just the browser interface taken out of your browser. Boxy is the same, but for Inbox.

I’m sure there are others out there. If you’re foaming at the mouth because I missed something, let me know in the comments.

Airmail ($10)

Although all of the apps listed here are purported to work well with Gmail, AirmailAirmail for Mac OS X Is Making Email Beautiful AgainAirmail for Mac OS X Is Making Email Beautiful AgainWhen I first heard of Airmail, I must admit I questioned if I really needed a new way to check my email. Like many people, satisfied all of my email requirements, and I struggled...Read More was clearly designed from the ground up with it in mind. For example, it’s easy to label and archive messages. And it’s possible to label messages without archiving them. This is a rare feature outside of the browser interface, and can be extremely useful.

It’s easy to switch from a unified inbox to a label view from a single account, making this a good option for people with multiple accounts. It also works well with non-Gmail accounts, making it very flexible. Stars work the same way they do in Gmail, so you don’t have to worry about them getting messed up during a sync. And Gmail shortcutsEssential Shortcuts to Browse through Gmail FasterEssential Shortcuts to Browse through Gmail FasterRead More mean you can continue flying through email with your keyboard.

Because this app integrates so well with Gmail, you can use the Gmail or Inbox mobile apps without messing up labels, stars, or archiving. Airmail also has an iOS app, available for $5, but the desktop app’s perfect sync capabilities mean you don’t need to buy it if you’re happy with one of Gmail’s native options. I’m currently using Airmail on my Mac and Inbox on my phone, and it works very well.

Unibox ($16)

This “people-centric” app places a strong emphasis on the idea of natural conversation in email. In order to do this, your emails are grouped by person instead of by conversation. You can still view your email conversations if you need to, though. While I found this method of organization difficult to get used to, some will find it natural.

I ran into a couple small snags while testing Unibox. For example, some emails that I had previously archived were showing up in my unified inbox. I also found that the app uses folders instead of labels. When you select “Move To,” the message is archived with a specific label. So my system of labeling items in the inbox isn’t supported.

That being said, anyone looking for a client that organizes mail by contacts should check out Unibox. The interface is very minimal and stays out of your way, it’s easy to set up, and does its job.

Postbox ($40)

Postbox provides solutions to most of the problems Gmail users will be looking for. The interface is fairly minimal, and provides a lot of shortcuts for getting to specific sets of emails. The focus pane lets you get to specific tags (not labels) quickly, as well as filters by things like “has attachment” and “subscription.”

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Unfortunately, there’s no support for labels. As with most desktop clients, they’re simply treated as folders, and when you assign a folder, the email is archived. You can add Topics, which function sort of like labels, but you’ll need to customize the list; it’s not imported from your labels in Gmail. And they aren’t displayed especially well.

Beyond the lack of good label support, this is a good option that will let you work through your email quickly. You can also use Gmail keyboard shortcuts, which will help longtime Gmail users adjust. Is it worth $40? Unless you really love the tagging and focus pane, probably not.

MailMate ($50)

This is billed as an email client for power users; customizable keyboard shortcuts, Markdown capabilityLearning Markdown: Write For The Web, FasterLearning Markdown: Write For The Web, FasterMarkdown is the best way to write in plain text but still create complex documents. Unlike HTML or LaTex, for example, Markdown is simple to learn.Read More, advanced search and smart mailboxes, encryption, and a host of other features make this one of the most capable email clients out there. It’s not especially intuitive, but once you learn it, it can be a very powerful way to manage your communications.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get it to connect to my Gmail account, so I can’t tell you a whole lot about it. Many of our readers recommend MailMate, and say that it’s worth the hefty price tag. Like Postbox, you can’t directly use your Gmail labels, but you can tag your messages and deal with them that way.

If you’re comfortable with the more technical side of importing accounts (like IMAP and SMTPIMAP vs. POP3: What Is It and Which One Should You Use?IMAP vs. POP3: What Is It and Which One Should You Use?If you have ever set up an email client or app, you will have certainly come across the terms POP and IMAP. Do you remember which one you chose and why? If you are not...Read More) and you’re not afraid of a steep learning curve, this may be a great option.

Free App For Gmail


After this search and a lot of testing, Airmail is the app I’ll be using on my own desktop. The fact that it works so seamlessly with Gmail sets it clearly above the other options. If you want a desktop client for Gmail, it’s absolutely worth $10.

Do you use a desktop client for Gmail, or do you prefer webmail? Which clients have you tried? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Explore more about: Desktop Email Client, Gmail.

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  1. Just discovered another GMail client named Nylas-Mail
    It is free and opensource
    BUT, and for me is a bit concerning because there are quite a few issues regarding privacy and security.
    The team of Nylas seems to calm everyone by saying that data is not shared as long as you're a free user yet people dont trust that completely and provide other proofs.
    Basically you have to sign up to their service in order to use the mail client hence the concerns.

  2. Whoa. These comments go back pretty far. I'm impressed that Mr. Albright is still providing feedback.

    I checked out the reviews of Airmail in the app store. They're bad enough that I wouldn't have even considered downloading it had I not read this review first. I can't tell if reviewers are focusing on minutiae that's irrelevant for the average user, if they're frustrated with the learning curve required for a new program, if these issues apply to every email client and this is just the best we can hope for right now, or if their concerns are indeed legitimate and they're right to complain.

  3. My needs seem to differ a bit: I actually prefer 'filing' my messages into folders rather than labeling, and just need something that is fast and doesn't 'break' gmail. Interface-wise, I actually prefer Apple Mail over most clients, but it can be randomly slow with Gmail and is a real pain to deal with if you take a long time composing a message -- mainly because you end up with multiple draft copies sitting in your drafts folder. You can get around that issue by setting your Drafts to be use a local folder instead of syncing with Gmail, but that becomes an issue if you use multiple computers (since that draft you were working on at your desktop will not be synced to your laptop or mobile device).

    I've tried a handful of alternative apps, but seem to keep running into one of two main issues:
    1. Many older apps that tout themselves as made-for-Gmail are just browser wrappers for the web client. There was one specifically that was literally running an instance of Chrome behind the interface, and killed my laptop battery as a result. While I actually prefer Chrome for some uses, I try to avoid using it on my laptop because it is so resource heavy; I get MUCH better battery life if I use Safari for most of my web browsing.
    2. I hate preview panes, but many of these apps give no option to avoid using them. I know I'm old-school in this, but I prefer to just see my folder on the left and a list of messages on the right -- with mail messages opening in a separate window. I really like the functionality and interface of Spark (which is my default mail client on iOS), but the macOS client refuses to let you work without the preview pane.

    For now, I keep waffling back and forth between Apple Mail and Gmail's web interface (Outlook 2016 is decent, but I reserve that for my work's Exchange account as I accidentally emailed my boss from my Gmail too many times with them integrated haha). If Apple Mail would just fix the Drafts folder issue, or if Spark let me get rid of the preview pane, I'd probably settle on one of those. Until then, I'm still searching...

  4. I've been trying to find a decent Gmail desktop app for over 18 months now. I wanted to change the way I organise my email and foud Postbox, then I discovered the fact it didn't support labels and I had big problems with it crashing, so was pretty annoyed at the fact I had set up all my topics and then wasted a lot of time. Having recently subscribed to Office 365, I decided to give Outlook a try... after 3 months I'm not liking it much as no label support and now I'm moving to another Mac, so its time to try something better.

    So thanks for the article and I will give Airmail a try.

  5. You forgot about Spark. In my opinion the best one at 0€.

    • Does Spark really support gmail labels? I've read reports that it will import labels from gmail but doesn't allow the creation of new labels. ...and how does it maintain *both* labels and folders?

    • Does Spark really support gmail labels? I've read reports that it imports labels from gmail but doesn't allow the creation of new labels. ...and how does it handle folders and labels simultaneously? (I.e. how would it know which gmail labels should behave as folders and which should behave as labels?)

  6. Airmail doesn't support a second factor authentication as implemented by Okta or others.

  7. I'm concerned about security with Airmail, I'm using the Airmail beta version for testing v 2.6. It automatically configured my gmail, iCloud and another IMAP account and I'm not sure the security configuration for my accounts is sending out my password in clear text or encrypted: incoming server security set to 'NONE' for iCloud, “PLAIN' for my imap account and “LOGIN” for gmail account. Anyone know if this app is sending out credentials securely?


    • No Airmail 2.6 for Mac do not have push notification and does not store your credentials or messages on our servers. Gmail tabs support is planned.

  8. No mention of the fact that Airmail still doesn't support Google's mail tabs (Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates), which makes Airmail pretty useless if you've been using Gmail web interface or something like Mailplane.

    Maybe upvoting that a bit might help?

  9. Nice review. Just a quick question, is it possible to move mails from one account to another in Airmail?

  10. Thunderbird worked fine for both POP Earthlink AND IMAP Google for a few days ... then it won't download gMail.


  11. I have not used Thunderbird before and I find I can have mailBox for both POP and IMAP. I am in the process of setting up multiple accounts.

    I don't know how easy it is to set up mail boxes yet. MacMail compared to Eudora is a pain, but at least I can retrieve both POP and IMAP on MacMail.

    Because of my experience with mail clients failing at some point, or the server won't deliver to some mail clients, and not to others for a period of time, I need to have my mail backed up in various places to be bullet proof.

    I'll see how this goes ... Unfortunately Thunderbird does not work on iPhone ...

    I was hoping to find a mail client to use on both iPhone and the MacBook Pros that i have. I'm still waiting for someone to design a mail client as robust and flexible as Eudora. If you did not use it to it's full capacity over a period of years, it is hard to understand the robust capabilities ... I have Eudora on another computer running Snow Leopard just so that I can find the mail I need, but I can't trust that old computer to do run the art applications because it is too small HD.

    • Funny to see someone mention good ol' Eudora. Love of my email life. People have absolutely -no- idea of what they are missing with this mail client. Of course - if you don't live, breath, eat, and die by information, then it doesn't matter. But for those of us that do/did, Eudora is sort of like the Moon space program. Cost enormous amounts of money to make, was built insanely well, and had capabilities that are no longer existent or even understood.
      All of these current clients are missing robust search functions that let you sort and search years and tens of thousands of emails in an intelligent and refined way. This is critical when you need to pull out old information with just a single possible keyword.
      So critical, I run a VMWare Snow Leopard 10.6 session on my Yosemite OS mac. It's a crazy thing to do, but for some of us, our email boxes are like mind maps - like cybernetic memories. And Eudora dying is like a burnt out chip implant in our brains - unupgradable, unfixable, debilitating and painful - since no one was -capable- of building anything like it with a cheap 'freemium' biz model.
      How the hell did email become so depreciated that nobody knows what a real email client could actually be capable of? Apple mail is almost worthless. I understand this, as Apple leaves real client software efforts to real developers. But it seems building something the magnitude of Eudora is not something a few 20 something devs using github, grubhub, Soylent, and caffeine can pound out in a few sweaty equity months, so we have toys that are bought and killed by Acme MegaCorp if they remotely start to function. Craaaazy man...

  12. I would not have discovered MailMate without this article. I just downloaded the 30-day full trial.

    I gotta say I really like it. It automatically set up and downloaded 8 mailboxes based upon what I had in Mac Mail.

    I'm reading the 'instructions' my only questions is can I download earthlink mail as well like I can in Mac Mail.

    This is a really really fine mail client. If I can't find something that functions with gMail as well as this, I might spring for the $49 ...which is something we really cannot afford at this time, but I can't be using a web server browser screen for mail at this point during my life, LOL.

    Thanks again for the article ! In the meanwhile I'll check out some of the others.

  13. Apologies, I'm so annoyed with my lack of downloading gMail that I completely forgot to THANK YOU for the wonderful research ... I'll give a few a try ... but please peeps, forget PostBox. Very unreliable.

  14. PostBox *used* to work with gMail ... I have spent months trying to get it to work and it will not.

    I use MacMail as it will download both Earthlink and gMail ... however now THAT will now download gMail either!

    So I'm looking for a mail client to use as a backup for my gMail mail. It goes to the iPhone but not Mavericks desktop. This is very frustrating as I backup my Hubby's mail on my Mac and now his Google mail has been lost several times and I have no backup.

    I want a mail client that LOOKS and WORKS like Eudora ... that I can write scripts for and have a ROBUST mail client like that. One that never fails and for me -- I hate stars, personalities, and all that garbage.

    I want a regular dependable mail client that will down load for IMAP and POP and will do stuff in folders like Mac Mail and Eudora but will ALWAYS work with gMail.

    DropBox is owned by relation to Bush ... no wonder peeps were saying that DropBox is not secure !

    I guess I'll have to wait for the reincarnation of Eudora or a different MacMail ....

    Thank goodness I never gave up my Earthlink emails (almost 20 years) for that stupid free gMail as they keep blocking my downloads when I have never asked for that and it seems almost impossible to get them running again. It worked for a year and then nothing. No matter how many times I delete an account, change the password, etc. etc.

    We need some creative programs who will do a labor of love and create an AWESOME mail client.

  15. Geez, I guess desktop email apps are just out of style on Windows and Mac. I'm not crazy about any of these.

    Postbox looks good, but it has gone up to $15. That seems like a lot considering probably 80% of the code came to them at no charge.

    I was entertained by the Condoleezza Rice comment considering the context of this article: GOOGLE mail clients. Worrying about privacy in Mailbox is like going back into a burning house to see if you left the oven on.

  16. Why not just simply use Apple Mail app?? It has a nice interface and handles multiple email accounts nicely and does all the cool things you seem to like works flawlessly in the Mail app.

  17. thanks for the comparison

  18. Airmail has an iOS version coming soon as well. Can't wait!

  19. Check out kiwi for gmail (gmail for mac on kickstarter)

  20. Thanks for your review. I am going to buy Airmail because you mentioned the one feature that I really want and have not been able to find: the ability to label a message without archiving it. I have tried Mailbox, Outlook, and Postbox.


  21. I've been using the Gmail web app for about 6-7 years now, but since became a freelancer I travel so much, I felt I needed a desktop client so I could work offline at airports, on trains, etc.

    I've tried out a few options above but none was perfect:

    Mailbox: really like the simplicity and the interface, but for some weird reason, it didn't mirror the current state of my (empty) Gmail inbox, hence I had 4200 unread messages, which isn't very helpful.

    Airmail: like the interface, but when I tried to work offline, annoying messages popped up that it couldn't send the messages. More annoyingly, it doesn't offer the not very complicated outbox feature, so all the unsent messages were categorised as 'Drafts' and I had to send them manually, once I had connection again.

    Postbox: ruled it out as you have to decrease the security of your gmail account, which I was not willing to do.

    • Now that it has been a few months, how has Mailbox worked out for you? Being able to get things accomplished while offline is one of the main reasons why I don't use Webmail. That can really boost productivity while you're on the road.

      I've been using Apple Mail for everything (including Gmail) over the years, but now that I'm collecting emails from 10+ mailboxes, the volume has really bogged down the app. I keep deleting, but it's problematic to have tens of thousands of emails.

      I want to separate my Gmails from my domain emails, which I've already done on iOS devices w/ the Gmail app. Now I'm looking for the best email client for Gmail on the desktop!

  22. I am looking for another email program to use. I have been using Thunderbird for nearly 10 years, on a PC and now on a Mac Book Air, for the last 3 years.. I have been very happy with Thunderbird and would still use it, if it would operate correctly with the new apple update OS X Yosemite. Since I downloaded OS X, Sending a photo with Thunderbird can no longer happen.. Apple have made the files where your photo are kept, very hard to find for Thunderbird.. In fact the photo file that TB tries to find isn't there.. As TB is so old and OS X so new the, it seems they have different ways of finding things.. I'm not very happy with the way Photos in OS X has sorted out my files a lot more work and harder to move photos around. In time we will all get use to using Photos but in the mean time there will be a lot of unhappy people.. Has any body else had trouble with OS X trying to email photos?

    Looking at some of the other email programs no one has mentioned emailing photos?

    Look forward to any comments Gary

  23. First off, thanks for the post. I am not a experienced user per say, and i think my needs are fairly simple. I have only one gmail account that i want to link to my mail app, so labelling may not be a priority. I need it to be very user friendly and stable, and easy to archive messages.

    I tried Outlook for Mac, but I kept receiving the same e-mails two to three times, and couldn't find a way to eliminate that. Sometimes I received e-mails on the web, and not in outlook...

    I tried the original Mail app for Mac, but i never could figure out a proper way to install the account and synchronize everything.

    I am now using Thunderbird, but it is a bit problematic not to be able to see event invitations. And it now seems to be a bit unstable (a lot of application memory problems...)

    I am starting to think the only stable option is the web based gmail, but as others were saying: it is not fantastic...

    Any hints?

    • Check out Airmail! I think it's the best option available right now.

  24. Gmail Offline is a reasonable suggestion, but I have not tried it. If it's anything like normal Gmail web client, it would not meet my wishes, which are:
    * Integrated work and home email accounts
    * Introspect dates, addresses in mail body to auto-create events and contacts when you rollover (I think only Air Mail and Apple Mail do this).
    * Archive messages to local storage where they are still searchable
    * Sort mail lists by to, from, status, attachment, etc.
    * Include mail in OS X Spotlight searches (often finds things I wasn't expecting to find in email)
    * Its hard to copy text (like subjects) when everything is a link.
    * I reserve Chrome for Flash content browsing only. Flash is not installed in OS X, for efficiency and extra security. (or Google 'gruber flash chrome')

    To resolve slowness, I'm paring down my gmail archive, and upgraded to Yosemite last night.

    Because we use email so much, the user interface and UX is critical and personal. Everybody can find something that works for them, and choice is great! Which is why this comment thread could go on forever :-)

  25. I used Airmail for about half a year, with an Exchange account and two Gmail accounts. It did a good job with Exchange as well. In the end, though, the way it would file my sent mail item in a conversation along with a reply, when I only wanted to file the reply, was a deal-breaker. Did you notice this or find a workaround?

    I'm back on Apple Mail, although having severe performance problems due to Gmail's seem tendency to archive everything, even though I've set Mail to trash-not-archive mode. At about 50,000 items, Mail can't keep up.

    (I love how the conversation here has continued over time. I'm always finding pieces like this via Google search, and extended commenting is increasingly rare. Nice job on the replies.)

  26. I was not a fan of the Bush administration but your assertion that Condoleezza Rice's being on the board of DropBox makes people nervous about using Mailbox is just plain stupid. You're either a bald-faced liar or an utter idiot. Seriously, do you think she's sitting in board meetings saying stuff like, 'Let's loosen up security controls in Mailbox to make it easier for us and the government to snoop on people.'? No, I don't work for those companies. I have no vested interest in the product. I don't even like Rice.

  27. I love Reading these posts but I think we all miss sparrow right? There is simply no alternative and that sucks :-)

    • Exactly. Sparrow was the best client. I would still continue to use it but Sparrow started to act weird. When I send an e-mail to my domain's email from my Gmail's address it is rejected by (GoDaddy server). And if I send the same email from Google web interface or Apple Mail it works fine.

      I have no idea why Sparrow started to use GoDaddy smtp server or what other reason for this behaviour. It seems I just have to withdraw Sparrow and it's really pity.

      It was a bad choice for Sparrow team to cancel Sparrow support the next day the got money from Google. Funny thing I have bought Sparrow for Mac and just next day they announced it's over ;)

  28. Hello,
    thanks a lot for your benchmark about these mail software.
    Can you tell me how did you show the name of your labels in AirMail in your thumbnail ?


  29. What about foxmail ?

  30. Note that Outlook for Mac works differently than the version under Office 365. Regular Outlook for Mac will sync calendar and contacts, where the 365 version requires Exchange to do so. I thought that might need to be clarified.

  31. I saw the comment on Outlook for Mac. I wouldn't have gone to it but with my frustration with Mail and my wife getting a Office 365 subscription with her new Surface I decided to give it a go. Microsoft support tells me that gmail calendar and contacts will not sync without Google creating an Exchange account for my gmail to flow through. Ive never used Exchange, except when dealing with my employers email, so Im wondering if they will want to charge me for it. If so, I may abandon Outlook and come back to this article to choose another client. Good list here. Thanks

    • Hi Mike and Dann,
      I just trialed and then started an install of Office 365, with Google Apps support on the phone, and just as I was ready to hit 'go', he found a major problem: Outlook for Mac 2011 AND Office 365 do not support aliases. That's it; game over for me!Really bummed.

  32. Gmail for Mac (by Zive) is supposed to be released soon. It looks very promising, although I can't imagine they'll be allowed to keep that name. I'm currently a Postbox user, have been for many years, and is my preferred client. While not quite as visually appealing as others, it's customizability and functionality are above and beyond the competition. Works flawlessly with Gmail, labels, etc. and even allows Gmail shortcuts (to some extent).

    I just installed MailMate and must admit I'm impressed. The scope of Smart Folder options makes it a very powerful tool for message grouping/processing. $50 is hardly expensive for a piece of software that is used daily and increases productivity through its feature set. 10 cups of Starbucks. 5 fast food meals. A tank of gas. I mean, seriously.

  33. Unfortunately Postbox has been decreasing in usability for a while now. Over the last three months especially it's been crashing about 6 times a day, freezing a lot and just generally being really shitty. I've stopped using it - decrease in work output due to constant restarts, having to rewrite emails, etc was too much. Am on the lookout for a new client...

    Shame too, as I really love to delegation of emails (important, etc) and also use of smart inboxes that can sit along the top tool bar...

    Maybe if they fix all the bugs - instead of telling me to look at their FAQ all the time - I'll head back. It's a good app for sure and really did help a lot when I first started using them...

    • it's frustrating for sure, but it seems to be part an parcel with email clients these days. think i've tried about ten now, all which fail in some way or another. seems anyone building a client is more obsessed with the fairytale dream of 'zero box' versus creating something for people who need it for organisation.

      again, if postbox pull their finger out i'll head back. right now i'm stuck in the browser with gmail. also very gross.

      thanks for the heads up on airmail, was about to re download it again for another shot (search function, or lack there of it, has always killed it for me)

  34. Good article, Dann, and very much appreciated but it was really spoiled by the interjection of politics into an email review.

    Obama's NSA spying on ALL emails and cell calls of ALL of us doesn't scare you 1,000x more than Rice, an ex-Secretary of State and highly respected college professor and college President, on the Dropbox board?

    Privacy concerns are fair but really?

  35. I'm looking for an alternative to Mac mail, which I find drab and unreliable (some messages from inbox get trashed and no one seems to know how), and I'm seeing mostly conflicting opinions. Macworld likes Postbox, the Sweet Spot loves Mailbox, which this site doesn't (Bush administration and Condoleezza Rice, really???) and prefers Airmail which SS hates.

    I think I'll give Postbox the chance; it looks robust and I think I live with some austerity. Anyway, thank you for the analysis; it helped me make the decision.

  36. I tried the $2 version of Airmail for a while but I had all sorts of syncing problems with Gmail, such as not being able to find Sent mail (it wasn't getting labeled). I like Apple Mail's aesthetics except it doesn't always work reliably with Gmail. Sometimes mail sits for hours and hours on the Gmail server and never gets synced over into Mail. Also the lack of simple labeling (shortcut L) and label/archiving (shortcut V) is a big drawback.

    I've been using Mailplane for a while now simple because it is reliable and because of the Gmail shortcut support. But its handling of embedded images is really awkward (it takes like 4 clicks before you can finally paste a PNG and get it sized right. That works much better in Mail. And, of course, it only works with Gmail.

    One feature that Mail has which neither Gmail nor Mailplane has is 'Send Again' which is very useful in my work. In Mailplane the best you can do is forward and clean things up before sending. Airmail insists it has a 'Send Again' feature but at least the version I had did not and I got tired of arguing with their developers about it. The feature labeled Send Again didn't. I wonder if the new $10 version has that feature.

    Also, the aesthetics of Airmail still didn't seem as nice to me as Apple Mail. The black left columns seemed gaudy to me. But again, I don't know if that has changed lately.

    I read about all sorts of problems with Airmail and Gmail, but you seem to indicate that there are no problems anymore. No syncing or missed labeling issues remaining?



  37. Dann, the Mailbox (beta) app for Mac actually does support Gmail labels. But like its iOS sibling, you need to move all your labels (in Gmail web) under the [Mailbox] label. Then they all show up in the Mailbox app.

  38. One of my frustrations with The default Mail app is that the font becomes messy when emails are viewed in Outlook on pcs (they'd often arrive in 2 different fonts). I tried add-ins but found they always seemed to lag Mac updates. Hence switched to Airmail and this has addressed the problem. Since many corporate users are not in the Mac environment isn't the presentation format of emails important in any assessment of desktop email client?

  39. A useful roundup, but if you're truly searching for 'the perfect Mac desktop Gmail client' then I feel you should have reviewed MailMate for its features and THEN commented on its cost – not simply rejected it solely on that basis.
    MailMate is a very powerful, effective email client, and I originally found it through a similar article that did exactly what I suggested above: reviewed it for its features and pointed out the cost. From that I made my shortlist of apps to try and decided that MailMate's price was worth it *for me*. It has turned out to be MY perfect email client, as far as such a thing is possible.

  40. You've left out Google's own offline Gmail client. It is by far the best.

  41. You have successfully logged my monthly experience and evaluation of mail apps for quite some time! I found this post by doing my regular search for 'Mac Email Client.' I was too a fan of Sparrow and ditched it when support stopped. Since then I've been simply web-based Gmail... but that is so... I don't know... 'non-fantastical.' The search continues for me — and may include giving Airmail another go. I am also excited (?) about the Gmail 'Inbox': the Google Kool-Aid has been good so far so I'm all for drinking more of it.

  42. I'm sorry If It may sound out of sync but why was Outlook for MAC not a part of evaluation here?

    • Oh yes; must say not a fan of Outlook or M$ but then been in professional environment and using exchange addresses, I've had to work with it. I've been using Outlook for mac for my personal gmail account for nearly 4 years now. Granted no supported for labels; it plays fairly nicely actually. I still use OSX's stock calendar which works pretty well(instantly) with Gmail's calendar. That's why I wondered why not Outlook for Mac.
      I've used Apple's Mail but much as I like Apple's products(barring iPhones), Outlook for mac is what I'd prefer.

  43. Mailmate has a 30 day trial option. Given that's the case, I'm amazed you can assert that it's 'way too expensive' without offering any supporting evidence.

    For me at least, Mailmate had a unique combination of *working* label / tag support, multiple account / identity support, and a functional threaded conversation view that no other client offered.

    Well worth the price od admission if you drive your workflow largely from email, and don't want to be locked into a particular web client / provider.

    • Here, here.

      i worked thru all the listed apps in the list above and found that with my 5 mail email addresses (all on different services) Mailmate was well worth the money.


  44. Before I made the change to Mac earlier this year, I was an undecided Thunderbird/Webmail user. Thuderbird, being free, was an excellent choice. The possibility of running a calendar extension made things even better. But, like discussed, the 'labels' feature made web(g)mail more interesting and, at times, easier to use. I created a million different filters to get my folders on Thunderbird to work similar to webmail, but I continued to use both intermittently. I later won a Postbox contest (courtesy of MakeUseOf) and didn't return to Thunderbird or Webmail. The interface and other little things were decisive.

    Later, with the change to Mac, I figured I'd continue using the OSX version on my Mac. I set up both Postbox and the native Mail client... but for some reason, the Mac's native client felt better.

    Sure, I can't play around with labels (but for my day to day usage, they're not that necessary), and for integrating my work account, it seemed to perform better than Postbox. Mac Mail has what I need... and whenever necessary, I'll jump to webmail to clean out my trash and spam and all that other junk Mail can't handle.

  45. I tried all of desktops mail clients and still number one for me is Sparrow. I know that no updates but everything works fast and good :)