I’m someone who uses and likes most of Apple’s native apps on iOS and Mac OS X, but I’ve never been a fan of the stock email apps on either platform. Mail on iOS, while it has been improved in the last few years, just seems to have a lot of extra features that I don’t tend to use. I like the experience of sending emails to be simple and lightweight. The Mail app on Mac OS X has a similar story and seems to really bog down my MacBook Pro and make it run slowly. I’ve been a Mailbox user on iOS since the app was released, and I’ve always loved how simple and intuitive it is to use. On Mac OS X, however, I’ve always just used Gmail online through Safari or Chrome. Recently, however, I started wondering if there might be a simpler more lightweight email client for Mac OS X that would play nicely with Mailbox for iOS. After doing a little bit of searching, I found Airmail, a “lightning fast email client for OS X.”
Features – Airmail has a ton of really useful features, some of which aren’t available in the stock Mail app on OS X. Rather than listing every one here (a more comprehensive feature list can be found on the app’s website), I’ve listed a few of the features below that I’ve found most useful.
Quick reply – Mac OS X’s most recent update, called Mavericks, brought with it a feature that has long been requested for Macs and iOS devices – quick reply. This feature allows you to quickly and easily reply by clicking on the banner notification when a new message comes in. Airmail fully integrates this new feature, and having the ability to quickly tap off a reply to an incoming email without having to pull the app’s window into focus is very convenient.
Gmail shortcuts – I have two email accounts that I use, one for personal emails and one for work, and I have them both routed through Google’s mail service. One of the things that had prevented me from switching to a standalone email client on my Mac up until this point was a lack of support for Gmail’s handy shortcut feature. This feature allows you to quickly perform common tasks with the push of a single button, and Airmail replicates it perfectly. For instance, if you want to compose a new message, simply push the “C” key. Want to reply to a message? Push “R.” Want to send a message to the archive? Press “E.” If you’re a Gmail user, or even if you use a different email service and want to have easy to use shortcuts, this feature will come in really handy. A full list of gmail shortcuts can be found here.
Dropbox & Google Drive support and more – Airmail integrates many popular cloud storage systems, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Droplr, CloudApp, and Evernote. Being able to manage large files through these services rather than attaching them is very useful.
Delay send – Have you ever experienced email regret? This is when you send an email and then ten seconds later wish you’d never clicked the Send button. Airmail can help you with this. When you set a custom delay for sending messages the app leaves your message in the outbox for a while, allowing you to think twice before it is sent.
Menu Bar support – Airmail places a nifty little icon in your Mac’s Menu Bar. Instead of displaying a host of options like some apps’s menu bar icons, Airmail’s has one purpose. Clicking it shows the Airmail window. Clicking it again hides the Airmail window. It’s as simple as that. This feature is nice because it means that you don’t need to minimize Airmail’s window to the dock, which can take up precious screen space. Rather, this button gives you a simple show/hide option. I’ve found it really useful to keep my screen uncluttered.
Design – One of the non-negotiables I have for using an app is that it has to look good. The good news is that Airmail looks great! It uses a relatively simple interface and gives you fine-tuned control over how much – or little – information is displayed. This is great for me because I tend to keep my email simple. I don’t use a complex system of folders. For me it’s enough to have my Inbox, Drafts, Trash, and Archive, and Sent Mail folders and then use search to find everything else. Airmail let me hide pretty much everything else.
Settings – For being such a simple app, Airmail has a fairly in-depth Settings panel. From here, you can configure settings related to your accounts, general settings, appearance, notifications, languages, and advanced settings. Some standout settings that I’ve appreciated since I’ve been using the app are per-account signatures, aliases, setting an account as your default sender, choosing themes, and setting a delay for sending messages.
Conclusion – From time to time I’ve tried to switch from Gmail in a web browser to a standalone email app on my Mac, but Airmail is the first app that has stuck. Since I do about half my emailing from the Mailbox app on iOS and half from my Mac, it’s nice to have found an email app for OS X that lets me see both my Gmail accounts in one place and works well alongside Mailbox. One other huge benefit to Airmail is its inexpensive price – it’s currently selling for $1.99 on the Mac App Store. Since many other third-party email applications on OS X are much more expensive than this, Airmail’s price is yet another reason to download it and try it out. If you’re looking for a fast and simple email app for your Mac, give Airmail a try!