Since Sparrow was acquired by Google, the fate of both the excellent desktop and iOS mail apps from the developer was uncertain. In fact, besides a few, inconsequential updates, the apps have remained the same, which really casts a doubt over their futures.
With Sparrow for Mac almost guaranteed to not receive further updates, Airmail, another email client has stepped up as a great and cheap alternative to Apple’s own Mail app.
Let’s take a better look at it.
Design and Ease of Use
Available on the Mac App Store for $1.99 (a free beta is available from the developer’s website), Airmail for Mac is perhaps one of the most undervalued apps I’ve tried. In fact, if I hadn’t tried it myself, I would have thought that it was a subpar mail application due to its low price. Nothing could be further from the truth though, since from the moment you start the application it shows a great level of polish.
Setting up an email account on Airmail is as simple as introducing your login information. Once done and after providing the app with access to your contacts, Airmail displays the classic layout with three main panels that most email clients use.
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Additionally, the app makes a clever use of your contacts’ information, displaying pictures and icons for them on the message list whenever possible.
One of the main strengths of Airmail is that it provides a lot of flexibility when choosing how the app looks and behaves thanks to its great number of settings and options.
A great example of this is how you can customize your email list, since Airmail provides you with different viewing options for you to choose.
In addition to that, you can also use the app as a full-screen email client or switch it to a minimal, Twitter-like message list to navigate your emails from your keyboard without even having to touch your mouse.
And speaking (or writing) of keyboard, one of the aspects of Airmail that I really like and where it is vastly superior to Apple’s Mail is in the variety of shortcuts that you can use to control it.
For example, instead of having to use Command + Shift + D to send a message, with Airmail you just have to press Command + Enter. Want to archive a message? Just press the Back key and so on.
Overall, navigation and control in Airmail is a bit cleaner than on Mail.
However, one drawback of Airmail that I found is that you can’t control either the size or the type of font that the app uses. This doesn’t affect the app’s performance of course, but it is disappointing nonetheless.
Thankfully, Airmail performs quite well for a relatively new application. I downloaded literally thousands of emails into the app and it remained smooth all throughout. As for compatibility, Airmail works with all major email protocols, including POP3 and IMAP, so services like Gmail, Hotmail and iCloud showed no issues for me when using Airmail.
Airmail is also (surprisingly) compatible with some of the major cloud services out there, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Droplr, CloudApp and OpenDirectory, all of which you can set up to upload the attachments you receive.
Last but not least, Airmail comes with a pretty neat compose window, which gives you one-click access to some of the most important options when writing an email.
These include most interestingly, both an option to write in HTML or using the widely popular Markdown format. This is the first time I see something of the sort on an email client, and it is definitely appreciated.
All in all, Airmail proved to be a very pleasant surprise and a more than capable alternative email client to Apple’s Mail application. If you are not happy with Mail or you are simply looking for something different, take a look at Airmail, you might end up linking it.