Dec 04 2013

Email on your Mac – a brief history. And don’t miss the launch of MailPilot today!


MailPilot is a brand spanking new email client for Mac, and it is being launched today.

This is a limited release – if you would like to test it out you really need to act fast.

A Brief History of Mac Email clients.

For many years there was no good replacement on OSX for Apple Mail. Messages were acted upon and then either deleted to sorted into folders based on their subject matter. Inboxes grew huge and the amount of stored mail kept threatening the capacity of hard drives. Half your time was spent managing spam and spam filters. The other half was spent categorising mail into different folders. If you worked on a computer at home and work and also used an iPhone and iPad it was impossible to keep everything in sync – which messages have I replied to and what did I say?

Are you using Gmail to consolidate all your email accounts? If not, you should be. That is the first step in getting everything in sync.

Gmail has such a huge storage capacity that there is no need to delete old emails. You can access your account from anywhere and it remains all ‘joined up’. You can keep all your old email addresses, while still storing the mail on the gmail server.

Sparrow was the first mail client that took full advantage of gmails cloud-based features. It had a very different approach to managing email. Sparrow is a light client, in that most of the mail was stored on the Gmail server, but the experience of the user is as if it is all stored locally.

The interface of Sparrow encouraged you to pursue ‘Inbox Zero’. Achieve an empty Inbox by archiving each message as you act upon them. Don’t worry about deleting, categorising and folders – the messages are all stored on the gmail server and the gmail search engine is so good you can alway find what you want.

Sparrow was also available on iPhone and iPad. Their products were so good that last year they were bought out by Google and the Sparrow Apps went out of development. Many of the best Sparrow features are starting to appear in Gmails own apps.

In January this year, the app Mailbox was launched on iPhone and then on iPad. Mailbox understands that people use their Inbox as a giant todo list. It takes a ‘task orientated’ approach to your gmail. Each message is actioned – ‘completed’, ‘remind me tomorrow’, ‘remind me on a certain date’, ‘add to a list’. The Mailbox server takes care of moving messages back to your Inbox on the day you have specified.

The Mailbox launch was so huge that they had to ration access. I remember being 500,000th in the waiting list.

Mailbox has not yet launched a Mac desktop app.

Since Sparrow, I have been using the app Airmail as my preferred email client on the desktop. I really like it. It is fast, has good search functions, and has customisable themes. However, it doesn’t have some of the cool ‘task orientated’ features found in Mailbox.

Today there is a new contender in the Mac desktop email client market. MailPilot has been available on the iPhone and iPad for a few months. I’ve had the chance to test it out the desktop version for the last few days.

MailPilot also takes a ‘task orientated’ approach to your email.

It looks really good. The messages load quickly. The interface and keyboard shortcuts make it easier to get to the nirvana state of ‘Inbox Zero’.

The current beta release has some quirks, but I notice that each ‘build’ of the program is improving. In fact, a new build is downloading right now. Hopefully it will soon allow the use of ‘aliases’.

If you want to test it out, you should apply for a beta preview version today. I’d hate to see a loyal WILT reader be 500,000th in the queue.

What I Learnt On 4th December in other years

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