Revisiting My OS X Email App of Choice

Remember when I switched to Postbox?

I really enjoyed using it at first, but eventually found it was taking up more resources than I’d like — and decided I wanted an email app that was more “minimal” in its appearance. So I began to look at OS X email apps once again, with the hopes of finding something that would fit my needs. What I was looking for was as follows:

  • A minimal look but with enough power under the hood
  • The ability to display multiple inboxes at once
  • The ability to sort an inbox so that the oldest email is at the top
  • Services integration such as Dropbox

Since I spend as little time as possible in my email application, anything beyond those features would have either been a nice bonus or would have served to clutter the overall experience.

After looking around the Mac App Store and searching elsewhere online, I decided to give these apps a try:

  1. Unibox
  2. Inky
  3. Airmail


From the onset I figured that I’d be averse to using Unibox (which is currently in beta), and I was right. Why? Because it didn’t offer a look at my email accounts as separate inboxes. So much for that need being met.

Unibox is, however, a very clean email client and it offers a somewhat unique take on handling email — focusing on contacts just as much as the messages. This approach seems similar to what Cloze offers, but handled in a different way. I like that Unibox is trying to make email more personal but since I prefer to get out of email as quickly as I can, it’s not going to be a good fit.

Nothing personal…it’s a beautiful and well-designed app that is bound to work for a ton of folks.


Inky has a very elegant and simple interface, and the setup is a breeze. The app requires you to have an account, which may put off some people (I’ve signed up for plenty of accounts in my day, so that wasn’t too much of an issue for me).

There’s not a ton of power under the hood here, but there was more than enough for what I needed. I liked the fact that I could isolate accounts/inboxes as I wanted, but the default offers a look at a unified inbox — which isn’t ideal for me. It also scans your contacts and messages to see what level of importance they are, and then colours them accordingly. This would be beneficial to many, but since I don’t really focus on the importance of messages as a whole it wasn’t something that won me over.

Inky is fast, and pleasant to use but it didn’t quite feel right to me when compared to others I’ve tried (including Postbox).


Airmail is the closest that I’ve gotten to Sparrow in an email client on the Mac.

I can use Dropbox with it. I can have multiple accounts (and therefore, inboxes) with it. I can Send and Archive with one click. I can write in Markdown if I want. And — after mentioning to the developers that this feature was missing — I can sort my inboxes so that the oldest email appears first rather than last.

There have been some hiccups with it. I’ve had some links within messages that should’ve opened in my browser not work, for example. But these bumps in the road have been minor. The fact that I can swipe left to archive or right to trash an email (which is identified by a bright colour depending on which way you go — blue for archive and orange for trash) makes processing email a breeze. There are plenty of other options that I’ve barely scratched the surface of — but I haven’t had to work with them yet. The great thing I’ve found about Airmail is that it is simple and yet still scales, meaning that those who are power email users can really get a lot out of the app.

My email setup is now (almost) perfect. Airmail on my Mac and Dispatch on my iPhone make my email workflow pretty much friction-free 1. If you’re looking for apps that can help you get through your email without spending a ton of time in email, then give Airmail (and Dispatch) a look. They’ve made my email experience as good as it gets on my Apple devices.

Photo credit: GretheB via SXC.HU

1 I only wish that Apple would allow email apps beyond Mail to be used as the default mail client on iOS devices. That’s been my one pain point — but I’ve learned to deal with it because the benefits of using Dispatch far outweigh the drawbacks.