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It’s also the only client in this review to natively support Microsoft Exchange accounts, although Outlook’s increasing support for IMAP renders that a bit moot.

  • Arcode Inky

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  • Freron MailMate 1.5

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  • Generic Company Place Holder Airmail

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  • Postbox 3.0.5

    Read Macworld's review

A recent surge of worthy new email clients offers Mac users some of the best choices they’ve ever had for managing their mail. With a panoply of clever features and new ideas, these contenders have also mounted a serious challenge to the relatively stagnant Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook. But with so may options to choose from, it’s now even harder to pick out the best email client for your particular needs. We’ve found one strong program that offers a great mix of features, usability, and value for a broad swath of users, plus several more that will cater well to more specialized preferences.

Top choice: Postbox 3

Postbox 3 () isn’t the newest or sleekest candidate in this roundup. Its design hews more closely to the traditional Mac look and feel, rather than adopting a slick iOS-like appearance. But for $10, it combines reliable performance, smart design, and a wide array of impressive features that make the program feel like what Apple Mail ought to be.

Even though it’s built on Mozilla’s aging Thunderbird underpinnings, Postbox handled my email quickly and confidently. Setting up new POP and IMAP accounts went smoothly; in one case, when I tried to set up a work Outlook account, Postbox patiently guessed at several different IMAP configurations until it found the right one. It then filled up my new mailbox relatively quickly, despite the pile of messages involved, and let me track its progress with a clear but unobtrusive progress icon.

Everywhere you turn in Postbox, you’ll find well-thought-out features that enhance your email experience. Message threads are easy to follow, with each message’s beginning and end clearly marked, and a quick reply box waiting at the end of the most recent message.

An inspector pane next to each message shows you not only who sent it —and, with a click, their entire contact card from your address book—but breaks out any links, images, maps, or package delivery info it finds in the message. You can also easily search for any messages, images, or attachments from a particular sender just by clicking links within their address book info.

And if work requires you to send a lot of form responses, Postbox builds in that ability. Just compose your response in preferences, then choose it from a pulldown menu when you’re writing a new email.

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Postbox plays nicely with many popular social and productivity tools. If you have Evernote installed, Postbox can send emails to that service to help you keep track of them. Once you set up your account information, dragging and dropping files from your Dropbox will create links that let recipients download those files straight from your Dropbox account. And you can tie in your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to not only get links to your contacts on those services, but post to all three directly from Postbox. The program will even use the Gravatar service to pull in images for your friends and acquaintances from one or more of those services.

A helpful To-Do mode lets you create new tasks, or turn existing messages into tasks, then check them off as you finish. Postbox also integrates an RSS reader to keep track of your favorite feeds, an increasingly rare feature among modern email clients. And Postbox provides great support for Gmail, including the ability to use Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts. None of these features gets in the way of simply sending or receiving email, but they’re all readily available when you need them.

Finding and using all these features can get a bit intimidating when you first start using it, but Postbox’s clear, straightforward, and easily searchable online help files make the learning curve much gentler.

Postbox 3 has begun to show its age; OS X updates since its initial release have actually broken a few features, such as integration with the Mac’s Calendar. But overall, Postbox seems like the best mix of price, capabilities, and quality for the majority of Mac users.

Top contenders


If you use email more for pleasure than business, you’ll likely enjoy Inky’s earnest efforts to present your inbox in ways that matter to you.

Built for portability, Inky () stores information for your POP and IMAP accounts—but not your mail itself—securely on its remote servers. Once you’ve set up that info, a single Inky login will bring all your email to any computer you’re using Inky with.

In a clean, colorful interface, Inky lets you view mail as a unified inbox, by individual accounts, or by several different clever Smart Views. The program’s smart enough to automatically recognize and sort messages containing maps, package info, daily deals, subscription mailings, and other common categories.

By clicking icons on each message, you can also teach Inky how to rank your email by relevance, so that it’ll display messages that matter to you more prominently.

I occasionally had trouble logging in to Inky, and had to quit and restart the program a few times to get to my mail. And Inky doesn’t offer business-friendly features like to-do lists, or any bells and whistles beyond sorting and handling email. But it’s free, it’s fun to use, and it’s full of well-executed and practical new ideas.

Mail Pilot

The same can be said for Mail Pilot (; Mac App Store link), a $20 email client built loosely around the Getting Things Done approach to productivity. It looks terrific, but for all its good qualities, it’s still missing a few crucial features.

Mail Pilot treats your inbox as a to-do list. Each message is a task that you can check off right away, set aside until you’ve got the time for it, or ask to be reminded about on a certain date. Clearly labeled keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of the screen make these tasks easy to accomplish.

It’s IMAP-only, and setting up your account ranges from simple (Gmail) to tricky (Outlook, although the program’s great help files spelled out exactly what I needed.) Once your mail’s in place, Mail Pilot offers lots of different options to navigate message threads. The variety puzzled me at first, but I came to appreciate the different ways it sorted and stacked my messages.

As a fairly new program, Mail Pilot’s still somewhat under construction. The ability to save new messages as drafts or search by message text won’t arrive until a later version. But if you’re in synch with Mail Pilot’s productivity-first approach, you’ll nonetheless find the program helpful and worthwhile.


Give it a few more versions, and Unibox (; Mac App Store link) could become quite the contender. Right now, it’s a very well-designed and usable $10 app with a few pesky hiccups.

Setting up IMAP accounts is fast and easy, and once your mailboxes are populated, Unibox displays them not by message title, but by who sent you mail on a given day. From the top of the screen, you can switch between viewing each sender’s message thread, or seeing all the attachments or images in that thread by list or by icon.

I really enjoyed Unibox’s sleek and efficient one-window interface, which makes maximum use of space while still displaying your mail clearly. The new message window slides down from the top of each message thread. Buttons to sort, junk, or delete a message materialize when your mouse hovers to the left of it; replying and forwarding options appear when you hover to the right.

I wasn’t as fond of the blank screen Unibox displayed upon loading until I manually refreshed my mail. And it has a bad habit of truncating longer messages by default, forcing you to click again to read the whole thing. Still, it’s a smart program full of good ideas; it just needs a bit more polish.

The rest of the pack


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AirMail () offers an attractive, inexpensive front end for your IMAP-based webmail of choice. But while the program’s interface is nice to look at, it’s not always easy to use, with tiny, hard-to-see buttons and space-hogging new message windows. Gmail messages also take an unusually long time to load; promised Dropbox support proved impossible to set up; and AirMail offers few help features.

I used to love Apple Mail () but it’s begun to stagnate with the last few versions of OS X (Mail is free with OS X Mavericks). The latest incarnation trickles in a few new features, including the welcome ability to search by attachments and attachment types. And, as befits an Apple program, it’s well-integrated with the rest of OS X. It’s also the only client in this review to natively support Microsoft Exchange accounts, although Outlook’s increasing support for IMAP renders that a bit moot.

Alas, the latest version was plagued by troubles with Gmail, and Apple has released updates that address many of the problems. But wouldn't it be nice if it simply just worked?


Like a mighty rhinoceros, the $30 MailMate () won’t win any beauty contests; it’s not what you’d call “approachable”; and it’s astonishingly powerful. Its gray, austere, text-only interface conceals jaw-dropping abilities to search, sort, and sift massive piles of mail. Its support for SpamSieve and PGP, and its unbelievably granular search categories—like “level of server domain”—make MailMate the undisputed best email pick for power users, but probably a needlessly intimidating choice for everyday users.

See a list of email clients available for the Mac

Bottom line

Even if you only want a simple, no-frills email experience, you don’t have to stick with Apple Mail. Inky’s a great free alternative for folks who just want a streamlined inbox presented in a friendly way. On the other end of the spectrum, MailMate is ideal for tech-savvy experienced users who want to rule their inbox like a cruel, all-powerful god. And right at the happy medium between those extremes, Postbox offers plenty of easy-to-use enhancements for a fair price.

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  • Arcode Inky

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  • eightloops Unibox 1.0

    Read Macworld's review
  • Mindsense Mail Pilot for Mac

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  • Freron MailMate 1.5

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  • Generic Company Place Holder Airmail

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  • Postbox 3.0.5

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Every Mac comes with a free email application, appropriately named Mail. Using the native Mail application is fine for most people, especially for those who only use iCloud, but things get trickier when you’re dealing with multiple email accounts.

For Gmail users in particular, more thorough solutions are available, many which are free. Here’s a look at five Mail alternatives and why they might work for you.

AirMail ($10)

Marketed as being a “lighting-fast email client for Mac,” AirMail is also the most beautiful application on the list. Offering Split Screen support for OS X El Capitan, the application looks and feels like it’s an Apple creation. It also features some options not available on the native Mac application, which consistently makes AirMail one of the best overall apps for OS XThe Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMacThe Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMacLooking for the best apps for your MacBook or iMac? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for macOS.Read More.

Chief among this is the ability to compose in Markdown or HTML. As you type on the left, the result is shown on the right side of the screen. Being able to view the formats side-by-side means you can make sure to remove broken links or weird-looking text before sending.

In AirMail, received messages may be organized by task. You can mark each email as To Do, Memo, or Done. The first are for items that require some action or a follow-up. A Memo is for items you need to memorize or store for later, and you can mark completed emails as Done. You can also Snooze messages, allowing you to move them to the side for viewing at a later time or date.

The application offers support for Google, iCloud, Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, AOL, IMAP, and POP. It also works with many third-party integrations, including Dropbox, Google Drive, OmniFocus, Things, and many more.

AirMail is available in the Mac App Store. You can also download a beta version for free from the developer’s website. An AirMail for iPhone app is coming soon.

Mail Pilot 2 ($20)

Like AirMail, Mail Pilot 2 turns mail into a to-do list, allowing you to focus on what’s most important. Unique to Mail Pilot 2 is a relatively new feature called Dash.

With Dash, your daily life is summarized on a dashboard to help you become more productive. It includes the number of messages that you have received in the past 24 hours, plus those that are completed, set aside, due, and late. Dash also summarizes the average time it takes for you to reply to emails and more. Another handy feature provides links to files that you’ve recently sent or received, which is very nice.

The application supports all standard IMAP accounts, including Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, AOL, Rackspace,, and Google Apps. Mail Pilot 2 is available in the Mac App Store. A $9.99 iOS version is available from the App Store.

Do you want to learn more about Mail Pilot? Be sure to take a look at our original reviewTask-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS XTask-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS XLike the mobile version of the app, Mail Pilot for Mac is very useful for managing important email like a to-do list.Read More.

Postbox ($10)

Postbox is one of the oldest email clientsPostbox: An Alternative Email Client For MacPostbox: An Alternative Email Client For MacPostbox is an email management application for Windows and Mac powered by the Mozilla platform.Read More on our list, but it’s also a very stable product. Postbox’s goal is to remove some of the chaos associated with mail, by offering robust tools to make the process more efficient.

One of Postbox’s nicest features is the ability to group messages by topic. This allows you to break work into smaller, more manageable chunks. Grouping by subject is particularly useful when you have more than one email account. Postbox also enables you to create Pre-Made Responses, which you can reuse as often as needed.

Postbox works with most email providers including Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud. It also supports POP3, IMAP, and SMTP protocols. It is available from the Postbox website. A 30-day free trial is also available, so you can try before you buy.

CloudMagic (free)

This mail client only recently arrived on OS X after finding success on iOS and AndroidTask-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS XTask-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS XLike the mobile version of the app, Mail Pilot for Mac is very useful for managing important email like a to-do list.Read More. Dubbed “simple, beautiful & blazing fast” by its creators, the application features a transparent user interface, free of fancy buttons or slides.

This approach works well, especially if you have to go through a lot of emails each day or have multiple accounts. We especially like the application’s shortcut buttons, which allow you to move quickly to the next or previous email.

CloudMagic offers support for Gmail, Exchange, Google Apps, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, and all IMAP accounts. It’s available in the Mac App Store. CloudMagic for iOS and CloudMagic for Android are also available. Both are free.

Nylas N1 (free)

Two of most popular third-party mail clients in recent years were Sparrow and Mailbox. After each was purchased by Google and Dropbox respectively, both were eventually shutdown, leaving millions of users in the lurch. By contrast, Nylas N1 is open-source and published on GitHub, meaning it will never be bought and axed.

Nylas N1 is the closest thing you’ll see to a next-generation mail program. It features a clean user interface, supports Gmail keyboard shortcuts, and best of all, because it is open-source, has a community to back it up. However, because it’s so new, you may run into some problems, at least in the short-run. For example, N1 doesn’t currently offer a unified inbox and the formatting isn’t quite right.

Why is N1 on our list? Because it’s been designed for easy modification. Best of all, it can run on multiple platforms including OS X, Windows, and Linux. Better still — it’s free. N1 is compatible with many providers, including Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, and more. Currently, there is no N1 app for iOS.

Download Free Imap Client For Mac

You’ve Got Mail Options

If you’re happy with Apple’s default email client, keep it. For those looking for different ways to organize your mail or rather use something that plays nicer with Gmail, consider one of our alternatives. The most feature-rich solutions on the list are AirMail and Mail Pilot 2. The ones most likely to push mail into new areas in the next year are CloudMagic and Nylas N1. Looking for a reliable, stable solution? Consider Postmate.

Are you looking for more ways to customize your email experience on a Mac? Check out these hidden El Capitan features you probably don’t know about11 Hidden OS X El Capitan Features You Might Not Know About11 Hidden OS X El Capitan Features You Might Not Know AboutThink you've found all the new features in El Capitan? Think again! There is a bounty of handy features that haven't gotten a lot of press.Read More, or take your email writing to the next level with these tools5 Tools That Can Help You Write Better Emails5 Tools That Can Help You Write Better EmailsEveryone is still trying to solve the email problem. So, let's also talk about the most basic habit of all – the art of writing better emails. With the help of some cool tools.Read More.

Which email client for Mac do you use? Let us know in the comments below.

Explore more about: Apple Mail, Desktop Email Client, OS X El Capitan.

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  1. Hi! The article's great, although I think you should have put free email clients first.

    I would also like to suggest Hiri (, an email client that helps you master the art of email. It's an innovation like no other client, and as a standalone app for Windows, OS X, and Linux, Hiri works perfectly!

    It's also free for personal use!

  2. Nylas N1 is not free anymore despite marketing shit they spread

  3. CloudMagic costs $19.99 to download. What do you people think 'free' means?

    The answer is not 'approximately twenty dollars,' despite what you may have heard.

  4. I really like Spark but for the love of god I wish they would go ahead and release a mac version already!!! Their iPhone and iPad version is good but I'm struggling to find an email client for the mac until further notice....

    • Jessica, I hope you may have found out that there is now a Mac version for Spark. It only supports IMAP though. I'm using Spark for iCloud since Apple Mail has become a complete hot mess on the computer (still works on iOS) and Apple Mail for my POP email accounts.

  5. Does Pegasus Mail work on a Mac?

  6. I might be wrong about this but CloudMagic keeps your user credentials in the cloud on their servers.

    Can anyone confirm this either way please?

    • Yes they do.

  7. Airmail is a disaster as of March 2016. Unstable and unfit for purpose.

    • Whats wrong with Airmail as of March 2016?

    • I agree. It seems to be more and more unstable. I had really high hopes for AirMail, but I'm out!

    • Airmail works perfectly fine. Still the best OSX email client. I wonder what issues you had with it.

      • The search is awful... and doesn´t have an undo send option.

  8. No MailMate mentioned? Really?

    • I second this, it is quite good...

  9. Thunderbird ain't bad but its getting old. Anyone know which other client supports multiple identities (besides Postbox that is)?

  10. For those using gmail with one of these native apps, what are you finding that missing compared to the gmail website client? I've tried various real clients over the years but gmails's search is awesome as is and haven't really found something lacking from the web client.

    • Have you tried Its a wrapper but pretty good if you're running OSX.

  11. Came to say the same thing as Peter, above. Cloudmagic is twenty dollars!

  12. What about Mozilla Thunderbird. It's also free and good.

    • +1

    • +1

  13. Airmail is absolutely the best OS X mail client out there. I am also beta testing Airmail's iOS app and that is going to beat the pants off everything else.

  14. Cloudmagic is nice, bit it's not free.