Choosing an email client app

This is a bit OT compared with the original post, but the discussion seems to have migrated to “what’s the best email system”. In that context, I suppose I am desperately naive, but what’s wrong with Apple Mail? I have been using it for years, and currently employ it on several devices (Macs with different versions of MacOS, iPhones and iPads with different versions of iOS, and iCloud) and it works for me. I very much value the synchronisation between devices, since my wife and I share our email addresses and I live in two countries. I have well over 100 mailboxes, and the rules system of directing messages to boxes works well, as does the junk filter. Sure there are frustrations (no rules apparently on the iPhone, so I have to get the Macs to do the job, occasional errors in the display of ‘From’ addresses, etc). But it’s reliable and quick (I don’t see delays in delivery - for example if I’m on the phone to someone and they offer to send something by email, it turns up seconds later). It handles some other IMAP accounts I have, apparently without problems. I know some people really hate it, but so far I don’t see why.

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I do use Apple Mail. I also have the Fastmail client on my iPhone, but because I have multiple email accounts, I mainly use Apple Mail as my email client.

Apple Mail isn’t full featured, it can’t do a lot of formatting (especially on the iPhone. Try making a hot-link to text). However, it does what it needs to do, and it’s simple.

Sometimes having too many features can cause you to lose focus. Formatting is weak, but it means I concentrate on the message. I can’t sleep a message, so I mainly handle them as needed which means I don’t have a lot of unanswered emails which I feel guilty about never answering.

I have the Fastmail client on my iPhone mainly for searching which can’t be difficult in Apple Mail when you’re looking for a very particular message. Other than that, Apple’s mail client is fine.

The main reason I don’t use Apple’s mail apps is that I don’t like the fact that it is only updated by OS updates. I prefer third party apps that the developer can update when necessary or desired. Also, some of Apple’s OS updates seem to break basic features of the app. That makes doing the OS upgrade more risky in my opinion. Keeping OS and mail separate lets me update each whenever I’m ready (unless the mail app update requires an OS update, of course).

I currently use Postbox on my iMac, and I am happy with it. Sadly, it’s a little pricey now. I’m still searching for an iOS app I like.

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Have you tried Spark?

Jeremy

I had not heard of Spark, but your question made me look at the reviews, which seem very positive. I am not sure it would work on all my devices: I have a Mac which won’t go beyond High Sierra, and I have at least two iPhones and one iPad that can’t be fully updated either. The appearance of all one’s emails on all one’s devices matters a lot to me, so I will have to look into that further. I also wonder about the switch from Apple Mail, where I have thousands of messages in over 100 mailboxes - don’t know if that transition could be done smoothly. Anyway thanks for mentioning it and I will do more research.

I tried Spark on iOS. There was something I didn’t like, though I don’t recall what it was. I see that it is very positively rated, but it just didn’t fit with how I like to do mail. Thanks very much for the suggestion.

I’ve read good things about Edison Mail. I’ve downloaded the iOS app but haven’t tried it yet. They have a Mac version in public beta. I also read a suggestion to use Microsoft Outlook on iOS, since it does not have to be tied to other Microsoft apps or their cloud. Finally, I’m planning to switch to Fastmail as my email host, and they have their own apps. Choices…choices.

I’m glad that Apple Mail does what you need it to do, Graham, but it falls far short for me. For decades I used Eudora on the Mac and took advantage of a great many of its features. I kept using it for years after it was no longer updated but one day my computer died and I got a new one with a much later OS and Eudora could no longer run.

I went through many other mail programs looking for one that was as straight-forward as Eudora yet had the features I wanted but few met the mark. I had high hopes for the Mozilla reboot of Eudora but they never seemed to capture the look, feel and function of the original. I now use PostBox which is about 85% of what I was looking for.

On the iPhone and iPad I use Apple’s Mail app and was glad to see they’ve finally added some of the basic formatting controls that should have been there from day one. I have not had any problem using different clients on the desktop versus mobile devices.

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Hi Michael and Graham,

I was originally a (very happy) Eudora user. I got along with Apple Mail for awhile until Apple killed the Letterbox plugins (which allowed creating a very simple single line per email interface similar to Eudora).

What I use now and love is Mailmate. Mailmate looks quite a bit like Eudora and is almost as geeky in its advanced settings. In Mailmate, one writes in Markdown, the same easy markup language used here on TidBITS talk. Benny, the developer is a real person who answers his emails and really cares about his users and is regularly updating the application.

There’s no constant pressure to buy a new version. Mailmate is still on 1.12 while most email vendors would be on version 7.93 if they had been around as long as Mailmate.

Try Mailmate, I think you’ll like it.

PS. Mailmate is all IMAP with no local database, so archives would have to be kept in Apple Mail (what I do), which is fine as the daily interaction with email all happens via IMAP these days anyway and it’s very easy to make archives from IMAP within Apple Mail. This is a very smooth process.

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Spark’s business model is reselling user data, just like Google. Spark the last place I’d keep my personal emails. Readdle the parent company are always doing weird promotions and strange manipulations with their pricing (PDF Expert is also theirs, I’m a PDF Expert paid user: PDF Expert is also the only application to have hard-crashed my MBP in the last six months).

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My personal experience (and I realize that others do not share this experience) has been that Apple’s Mail app isn’t very stable. It seems to crash a lot when I run it, and has done so consistently across many versions of macOS going all the way back to Mac OS X 10.1.

Today, I tend to use web interfaces for my mail (Google, Yahoo and mail.com).

When I want to run a mail app on my Mac, I prefer Thunderbird. Mostly because I am very familiar with how it works, and I don’t have any significant problems with it. And because I’ve been using some version of this app for a very long time, going all the way back to Netscape Communicator, which I started using in the 90’s because it was one of the very few cross-platform mail apps - I ran it on Windows, OS/2 and SunOS/Solaris systems at the time.

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Alec Kinnear wrote:

Spark’s business model is reselling user data, just like Google.

This is definitely false. As it is false that Spark has a security problem regarding the stored credentials.

This fake news originated from a post several years ago, which has been debunked since.

This is the Spark privacy policy:

<https://sparkmailapp.com/privacy>.

This is a discussion about the debunking:

<https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/adazxk/psa_there_is_nothing_special_about_spark_emails/>.

The business model of Spark is to sell an extended version targeted to teams and businesses - see, e.g., the adoption by MacStories’ Federico Viticci <https://www.macstories.net/stories/my-modern-ipad-home-screen-apps-widgets-files-folders-and-shortcuts/ >
and <https://readdle.com/blog/a-few-words-about-sparks-business-model>.

cheers

–e.

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Edison Mail (on my Android phone) can’t be configured to only provide contacts’ eMail addresses when crafting a new eMail; rather, it provides -all- eMail addresses that might partially match with what you type. I’ve asked for a config switch to restrict suggested eMails and, perhaps, that might come with an update down the pike.

I do use it, however, simply to receive mail coming from my security system as photo attachments appear inline.

For my everyday eMail requirements, I use Apple Mail on my Mac, BlueMail on Android, and Thunderbird on Windows (which, as much as it works, I still feel like I’m in the 1980’s). Unfortunately, I haven’t found any other eMail apps I like on Windows other than Outlook but Microsoft’s promised “sync-with-Google-Contacts/Calendars” feature has never arrived so it’s a non-starter.

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There are still many reports of Mail data loss under Catalina:
https://mjtsai.com/blog/2019/10/11/mail-data-loss-in-macos-10-15/

I’ve been recommending that folks have a look at GyazMail. Many users consider it to be a better version of Apple’s Mail. It is almost exactly like a slightly older version of Mail that many users are still pining for, but it is solidly stable and well supported. It’s also inexpensive and non-subscription. It even still supports POP unlike many new e-mail clients.

GyazMail ($18)
http://gyazsquare.com/gyazmail/index.php

Fully updated for Catalina. The Web site hasn’t been updated much in years. Credit that to it being from a small developer, not to the product not being kept fully updated.

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I’ve bounced around a few different email clients after the years. Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail and Airmail on the Mac, and Mail, Dispatch and Airmail on iOS. But nowadays, I just stick to Apple Mail, as it does everything I need of it. I’m currently still on macOS Mojave, as I’ve no urgent need to move to Catalina and I’ve heard about the issues with Mail.

Ironically, while some here have mentioned stability issues with Mail, I’ve had the opposite experience, at least for the last few versions of macOS. Meanwhile, it was Airmail that eventually drove me away with its instability.

I dislike the way that Airmail and some other email clients feel the need to add their own IMAP folders in order to provide me features that I rarely if ever need. I prefer to have my email under my control, not have the email app move stuff around trying to ‘help’ me.

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It really depends. If using strictly Google accounts, then Kiwi is an excellent GMail client and Mailplane is also a strong contender. Although my other Email clients (Outlook, Airmail, Spark) all support GMail, nothing does it quite so well as Kiwi.

I rely on Outlook 365 for business purposes and have had far too many issues with Apple Mail to use it in that environment. I keep returning to the Mac Outlook client for O 365 (and it also supports other services, such as Google). Having said that, Spark and Airmail are both really good alternatives which support O 365. I like them both and would definitely endorse Airmail as my top choice, however I do have a few more issues with Airmail than with Spark.

Someone mentioned security and privacy concerns with Spark. When I first heard of this concern, I researched it and found to have no foundation. I think Spark is perfectly okay with regard to the privacy of your data.

If not for my lingering concerns with the stability of Airmail, I would have switched long ago - however, at least for now, I’m sticking with Outlook for business and Kiwi for personal use and always on the lookout for the next great thing - (I’m intrigued by GyazMail, for example, but I have a feeling it’s not going to play nice with O 365).

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In Catalina I have virtually no issues with Apple Mail. My mailbox is just over 19GB on disk with decades of email in it. I also have about a hundred mailboxes and a load of sorting rules.

What I dearly miss in Apple Mail for iOS is the unified mail boxes for “Today”, “Yesterday” etc. Anything that gets sorted on my Mac disappears without a trace on my iOS devices. Outlook suffers from this too in all its versions. They are all virtually useless.

If anyone knows of a mobile mail client that has the “Today” feature like Mac Mail does, I’d like to know about it.

Apple Mail for iOS does have a Today mailbox. I don’t know about Yesterday.

In the Mailbox List, tap Edit. A list of Mailboxes and Smart Mailboxes appears. Tap the check box for Today. Tap Done, and Today should appear in your Mailbox List.

I don’t know how to save a search, but you can search for messages from yesterday: In any list of messages, pull down to reveal the search box. Type “yesterday”, then choose Date > Yesterday from the suggested searches. Tap Search and choose the tab for “All Mailboxes”.

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Thank you for that. My problem was just the opposite; I had a Smart Mailbox in the Mailbox list that I didn’t want. With your help, it is now gone.

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I had some problems a few years ago with Apple Mail occasionally loosing email that I eventually realized arose from the slow response of my 2010 MacMini. At times it could be so slow (usually with something going on in the background) that my typing got ahead of the machine and some mail would be deleted when I was trying to delete something else. I haven’t seen the problem since I upgraded to a 2018 Mini last year.

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Apple Mail (on macOS) has many annoyances and it has removed some features with no explanation (for example, it’s scripting dictionary still allows you to change a signature, even though this hahasn’t worked in years and throws a scripting error). There are a while lot of things that I really dislike about it,

That said, I’ve tried many many clients over many many years, and Mail.app is what I use. Nothing out there comes close to it in managing mail, keeping track of millions of emails, and just being solid. It never crashes, it never corrupts mailboxes. It just keeps working.

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