Recommended Email Client for Mac?

User avatar
Posts: 22013
Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 4:30 am
Platform: Mac + Linux
Location: Santiago de Compostela, Galiza

Mon Dec 25, 2017 1:12 pm Post

For a few years now I’ve been using MailMate, which might be the best email client I’ve encountered for the Mac, at least for how I prefer to read and compose email. It definitely does things a little differently, but once you get used to these differences, the reasoning for that is clear.

Here are a few things I really like about it:

  • Real conversation threads. Unlike Gmail, Mail, and plethora other clients these days, conversation threads are not flat lists with dozens of comments in them. They are instead hierarchically threaded so you can track different lines of communication within larger threads.
  • A super fast global index. This helps in many ways, but even with the near 100,000 emails I have downloaded, every search and function that relies upon search is instantaneous. All around in fact, I would say speed is an asset of this client. It feels more powerful than Postbox or Thunderbird, but is lightning fast in all things.
  • On that note, regular old search is nicely balanced between ease of use syntax and a GUI for building elaborate multi-axis Boolean search criteria, and saving them as smart folders for later use if you want.
  • Smart subfolders: in addition to the sort of smart folder filtering you would expect of a modern client, it has the ability to build out pseudo-folders beneath the smart folder by whatever criteria you desire. For example, you can set up a smart folder called “Last Week” that checks for all messages received in the past seven days, and then set up dynamic subfolders that break these out by the From field. So when you expand that folder in the sidebar, you can see every recent message filtered by individual. You can generate subfolders like this off of any email header (client, date, subject, attachment types, etc.) and as well some internal values as well, such as tags. These pseudo-folders are created as needed and removed when there are no longer any conditions that satisfy the folder. For example if I respond to every message in an individual’s pseudo-folder, which is generated off of a smart folder that looks for inbox messages without a response, then their subfolder entry will vanish with the last response.
  • Double-click searching: if you double-click on some types of columns in the mail listing, it will filter for matching emails by that column, and these can be compounded to tame even the largest multi-participant threads. For example you can double-click on the subject line to find all emails in the system that match that subject, and then double-click on the sender to filter that list down to only messages sent to/from that person within that thread.
  • Filters and rules in general are everything you might want from an email system. You have all of the basics you would expect, such as status marking and folder organisation, file system export, tagging as well as an open-ended command interface that ties in with the plug-in system.
  • One feature that depends upon fast indexing is a “Correspondence” sidebar that can be opened beside the message you are reading. This shows every single email thread that the “From” address was involved, in chronological order, threaded by option—going back years. Your own responses are included in this threaded view, which can be invaluable. If you use a help desk system like we do, where it assigns a unique address to every ticket, that means the Correspondence pane becomes a ticket viewer, and once the matter has been resolved, I can easily trash all to/from messages from that column if there is no use in saving it.
  • Manual workflow is fluid. You can file messages to folders using non-linear LaunchBar/QuickSilver style targeting, and jump to folders in a similar fashion. Searches are stored in a history buffer of sorts. You can jump between the last folder you viewed normally and the last search you used at any time.
  • Deferred sending: this is a godsend for me, particularly in times like right now—if I think of something worth sending to someone currently on holiday, I can queue it up to be sent when they get back, and forgot about it in the meantime. Much better than managing huge lists of Drafts.
  • Extensible with bundles. There are a good number that are available—if you prefer to compose text in MacVim say, that’s no problem. It has filers for DEVONthink, EagleFiler, Evernote. Integration with Things, OmniFocus, GitHub, Trac—lots of good productivity connections. And for tinkerers, I would say making your own bundle, or modifying an existing one, is about in line with Sublime’s plug-in system in terms of complexity—although unlike Sublime you don’t need to be a Python geek. It depends upon the shell, so you can use whatever scripting environment you are comfortable with.
  • Very keyboard friendly! I won’t call it mutt for a UI, but you can crawl through threads, jump to the first/last message within a thread, and well… let’s just say nearly every one of its copious menu commands has a shortcut next to it. It also supports shortcut aggregation—anyone that has used Keyboard Maestro will be familiar with the concept, where if you give two commands the same shortcut, the result is a popup window with a hotkey interface to select between the two commands.
  • Old-schooler friendly. If you just want simple mail that lists attachments as files you can save rather than trying to embed them all fancy like and nameless, you can. If you want a plain-text input/output workflow, it works better than most do. It has a Markdown composition and preview mode for those that need to send rich text for whatever reason, but don’t have any interest in composing that way. Unlike MailSmith though, if you do want to see whatever fonts your sender uses and all that jazz, you can—and that helps a lot when you get junk from companies that don’t multi-part correctly (Apple!). Traditional user interface—no iOS lookalike stuff here. It won’t win any Apple Design Awards or beauty contests, but you’re in decidedly the wrong place with MailMate if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Response and friendly developer. There isn’t a forum unfortunately, as I believe a powerful client like this would benefit from one, but at least the developer seems to be a nice person and whenever I’ve reported a problem it gets fixed in regular updates.
  • A solid 30-demo just like Scrivener has. I bought it a week into testing it however. :)
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles