What is the best email app for the Mac? [Updated for 2022] – 9to5Mac

Despite all the new messaging services, project management tools, and chat-based ecosystems, email is still essential. logging into icloud (and email) is one of my first tasks when setting up a new mac. Signing up for almost any service on the internet requires an email address, making it a universal digital identifier. Even with the popularity of web-based services like Gmail, many still prefer a desktop app to get multiple email addresses, use desktop plugins, and have a more native Mac experience. so what is the best email app for mac?

I got my first email account in the mid 90’s (back when it was still $2.95 an hour for aol). i stayed with aol until i got an @comcast.net account when my parents first got high speed internet. i switched to mailblocks around 2002 (it was eventually acquired by aol). i switched to gmail in 2004 when it was first released, and i finally switched to mac in 2005 when i got my first mac (a powerbook g4). I stuck with it through the disaster that was mobileme and finally got to icloud.

gmail for mac

Before I look at the various email apps for mac, I want to mention another app that might appeal to Google Workspace and Gmail users. If you have a few Gmail accounts and are satisfied with the Gmail web interface, check out Boxy. It is a native MacOS app for Gmail and it is also compatible with G-Suite. it’s a much smoother solution than running multiple tabs. Over the years, managing multiple Google accounts has become cumbersome.

Boxy Gmail for Mac

One of the things about my use of email that is most surprising is that I’ve gone in the reverse direction compared to how technology has moved. In the early days of email usage, I preferred using web-based mail, but as time went on, I preferred app-based email. I am bringing in multiple accounts into one app (personal iCloud and multiple Google Workspace accounts), but another aspect is that I prefer native apps. I think a lot of it has to do with iOS, where native apps are the default. On the desktop, we’re moving everything to the web.

as much as i love ios, if you told me i had to choose between mac and ios, i would choose mac. when it comes to my “heavy duty” type of work, i can get it done much faster on my mac. like i said before, i’m bringing icloud and multiple google workspace email accounts into one app, so using webmail is not something i want to do. I want one app to use instead of four web apps. So if you’re reading this article and yelling how much better the gmail web interface is, know that I’m not looking for web-based solutions. So I want to answer the question: what is the best email app for mac?

apple mail

Apple Mail App

Apple will always be at a disadvantage in some ways when building apps because they have to develop for the masses. They are developing apps for the power user while also the computer novice. In a lot of ways, Apple Mail doesn’t seem to be a lot different than it did when I first used it under OS X Tiger.

From 40,000 feet, apple mail does exactly what you ask. you add your mailboxes and it creates a mail app that looks traditional (with a universal inbox), supports all the major services (icloud, gmail, yahoo, hotmail, exchange, etc) and generally works well.

my biggest problem with apple mail is that it does nothing to further the concept of email technology. it works mostly the same as it did a decade ago. just added a few new features like send mail (a feature where you can send large attachments using icloud), flagging on attachments, and vip support.

On the other hand, if you want the traditional apple experience, you’ll love it, but it mostly lags behind a lot of the other apps in terms of new features. If you want to extend Apple Mail even further, be sure to check out plugins like MailButler and Mail Act-On. the downside is that they run locally, so if your mac is offline they won’t work.

I wrote an article in November 201 arguing that it’s time for Apple to introduce a professional email application at some point in the future if the company believes it should keep things simple.

spike

Spike is one of the most unique takes I’ve seen on email in many years. It takes a cue from apps like iMessage and Facebook Messenger, and it brings that same look to email. So many of my emails are short messages (think Slack style), and Spike builds a design that helps make you more efficient. It strips away things like headers, signatures, etc., and helps you focus on just the content. It also includes a priority inbox to help keep your inbox with just the important stuff, so you can get right to work. It pulls everything from iCloud, Yahoo, Google Workspace, and Outlook into a unified inbox.

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one feature that is very well done is the priority inbox. I get a lot of emails I didn’t ask for (PR pitches, random newsletters, etc.). spike automatically moves them to an “other inbox” to keep the main one clean. it is extremely beneficial for keeping an organized inbox.

another unique aspect is the groups function that spike offers. you can create groups for work departments, sports teams, tip groups are a collaboration tool for businesses that keeps people together and everyone on the same page. Choose the type of group you want to create, give it a descriptive name, and invite everyone who needs to be a part of the discussion. you don’t need a separate team chat service for quick communications, and you don’t need complicated collaboration platforms to share files. spike combines everything in one email.

spike has the option to add notes and tasks to your email inbox. With spike notes features, you get what you expect from a notes app, but it’s inside your email app where you can manage it with your email. you get all the features you want: rich text, links, comments, sharing/collaboration, and file sync (similar to how you can store files within apple notes). Spike’s Tasks feature isn’t fully featured in terms of project management, but it’s perfect if you use a simple to-do list or if you’re a heavy user of Apple Reminders.

spike includes voice messages within the app, so if you want to send someone a quick comment on a draft document or mockup, but want to avoid another zoom meeting, you can record a message and send it within the app. app. I’ve been to apple’s voice memo app for this before, so it’s nice to have it built right into the app. sends a native audio file, so even non-spike users can hear it.

My only complaint about the mac app is that it relies on electrons instead of a native mac, but overall it’s super fast. recent updates to the app added the ability to display multiple windows to make it feel more native.

spike is free for personal users, and there are several pricing plans to choose from on the business side. spike can be downloaded for free from the app store.

perspective

When I did my review of best email apps for iPhone, I praised Outlook.

if you want to find an app that looks like apple mail+, outlook is it. includes a smart inbox (sorts between essential and non-essential emails). contains customizable swipes (delete, archive, etc.). You can also snooze messages so they show up in your inbox again. this feature is useful if you want to make an email disappear until you get back to work, etc.

outlook for mac has lagged behind its ios counterpart for years in terms of user interface and features. however, there is a new version in preview that has come a long way. Outlook’s home screen has a built-in My Day and a two-week calendar to the right of your inbox. The new version doesn’t quite live up to the next-gen feature set of iOS apps, but it’s off to a promising start.

outlook supports imap, google workspace, gmail, and outlook accounts, so you can create a unified inbox for all your personal and work accounts. One problem I personally run into is that it can’t sync icloud calendars. however, it syncs with google workspace calendars. the new perspective has a people experience that focuses your inbox with messages from people versus notifications, etc.

spark

Spark is from the team at Readdle that makes PDF Expert and other really amazing apps for iOS and macOS. Their tagline is “Love your email again.” It certainly does a great job of helping you take control of your inbox. It supports all the usual accounts like iCloud, Google, Yahoo, Exchange, Outlook, and IMAP.

The best thing about spark for mac is that it brings many great features from the ios version. The app includes a smart inbox to help organize your email into buckets like newsletters, pinned, new, viewed, etc. It also includes the ability to snooze emails, send later, email follow-up reminders, smart notifications, and tons of integrations with 3rd party apps (dropbox, google drive, one drive, etc). one of my favorite spark features is to swipe over an email to send it to todoist and then in todoist you have a link back to the original email.

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The send later feature is one I’d love to see in apple mail. I want to be able to process my inbox on the weekends, but not clutter up other people’s inboxes while they’re not at work. also includes a built-in calendar compatible with icloud, gmail, etc.

A basic version of spark for teams is free, but they have paid versions (monthly fee per user) with additional file storage, improved link sharing, and team control and features. this plugin turns spark into a platform as much as it does an email application. When Spark was initially launched, I questioned how it could stay in business without a business model, but now I clearly understand how it plans to grow. if you’re interested in a team plan, but spark doesn’t work for you, polymail is a similar product.

By registering your organization, you can collaborate on emails together, discuss responses privately (without having to forward things back and forth), and create permalinks to emails (useful for linking in a crm, etc).

spark is free to download on the mac app store.

hello

Hey launched in the summer of 2020 to much fanfare. From the same team that launched Basecamp, Hey is their love letter to email. Hey brings a lot of excellent features to its service, but the problem for a lot of people is that it’s tied to an email service. If you are looking for a new email address, and Hey’s features interest you, it might be worth checking out. For $99/year, you get some excellent features like read receipt blocking, email screening, reply later reminders, and a focus “imbox” that contains only essential items as it filters out other items into things to review later.

I’ve spent some time using hey as my main email solution recently (forwarding all mail to it), and there are a lot of things I like, but there are also a few things I struggled with in everyday use.

I loved the filter feature where when someone first emailed me, I could choose what happened to the email. for things like the amazon receipt, they went into the paper trail. for newsletters, I sent them to the feed. I could also say that I do not want to receive emails from this person and that I would take care of it. all of these features were amazing and worked as advertised.

However, I didn’t like its actual application. I felt like I was running a web app inside an app window that was somehow not as user friendly as an electron based app. It’s hard to explain, but I had trouble reading my emails like I would with other apps. I wanted to love using it, but I felt like I was checking my inbox with wet shoes.

Since hey requires you to use their service, if you have a lot of email accounts, you’ll need to forward them to your hey service to get everything in the hey ecosystem. if you have a business account, that’s an obvious problem. hey offers business plans similar to google workspace, but requires your entire company to switch to hey.

If I only had a single personal email account, I could try making hey my primary solution, but for me, I ended up with a lot of weird forwarding. what I wish would happen is basecamp would become an email app that works with other accounts, since a lot of what they’re doing could be done server-side or locally in the app.

airmail

AirMail has been around for many years, and it’s one of the most common third-party mail apps that I see mentioned on the Internet. AirMail supports all the major email accounts like iCloud, Exchange, Outlook, Google, Yahoo, IMAP, etc.

airmail presents an extensive list of applications that you can integrate. The list includes Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Trello, Asana, OmniFocus, Google Tasks, Evernote, Todoist, Drafts, Deliverables, Stuff, and many more. airmail supports postponing an email to another date/time, as does spark. you can create a pdf from an email, mute/block senders, or create a to-do (airmail offers a lightweight built-in to-do list). the actions available for messages are too long to list. with airmail, almost everything is customizable. if you want an email app with lots of knobs to play with, airmail will fit your workflow.

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One feature that Airmail offers that I haven’t seen any other macos email app include is a search of the google apps/g-suite directory. this feature allows you to search for email addresses in your g-suite global directory that you don’t have in your contact list.

my main complaint regarding airmail is that it lacks the polish of apple mail and spark. it’s a great app, but it has never been able to convince me for everyday use. It’s definitely near the top, but it’s not the best email app for mac.

airmail is a free download on the mac app store, and there is an option for a professional upgrade subscription.

mailbox

Post Box is one of the apps I hadn’t heard of before I started doing my research on this topic. At first glance, it is nice looking, and it seems a lot like a prettier Apple Mail. It claims to be an email app for power users, but I fail to see what it does that Spark or AirMail isn’t doing. Post Box does have many third-party integrations, but so do many of the other apps. One of its most powerful features is the search function, though.

the mailbox lacks essential functions like snooze and send later. its most unique feature is account groups. this feature allows you to combine multiple accounts (for example, all of your personal accounts) into one unified inbox that keeps your work separate.

You can buy a mailbox for $40 and a 30-day free trial is available.

mailmate

mailmate is best known for its extensive keyboard control, discount email composition, and advanced search conditions. It’s not the prettiest app and it doesn’t have the most general features. it could really be called the plain text mail app. I find it hard to recommend it for first-time users or someone who wants features that spark and airmail are known for, but if mailmate interests you, it’s probably the only app that will satisfy you. it has a unique set of features that are not for everyone, but will be of interest to a specific group of users. however, I couldn’t say that it is the best email app for mac.

mailmate costs $49.99 and a free trial version is available.

two birds

Twobird is the same team behind Notability, is a really nice email app for people who use Gmail or Outlook. Twobird brings a lot of similar ideas around viewing email as a conversational chat-like experience. With Twobird’s calendar integration, you have another reason to stay inside a single application. What’s interesting with this trend of email applications integrating a calendar is that it is a callback to Outlook on the Mac and PC which is an all-in-one communication and productivity suite. Apple always was unique in keeping email and calendar separate, but the trend currently is to bundle all essential communications and appointments into a single application.

If you’re a gmail or outlook user, twobird brings a lot of good things to the table for a focused email application. combines email, notes, tasks, and calendar in one app, so you can avoid constantly switching contexts throughout the day. With the addition of calendar, you can scroll through your calendar to get an overview of your upcoming events and reminders for the week. the general idea is that all your notes, reminders, calendar events, and emails are in one place.

Since my personal email is on icloud, I haven’t been able to use it for everything, but it’s an app I have in mind for the future.

summarizes the best email app for mac

Deciding which is the best email app for mac is a difficult decision because people manage and use their email differently. If you want an apple mail-like experience, but want more advanced features, then you’ll want to try spark. it is a well-designed app with many features worth trying. spark’s team features are particularly well done.

Personally, I’ve bounced around email apps for years on macos without finding anything I could stick with, but since early 2020, I’ve been using spike as my email app of choice. i wrote a detailed article explaining why spike finally clicked for me. I love the conversational format it brings to email, integrated notes, and tasks in my inbox.

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