Choosing an email client app

I can now pass on that the lost e-mail issue found in Catalina has been reported by the individual that originally identified and reported it to Apple as being fixed in today’s update to macOS 10.15.3.

I used to really like Apple’s Mail until the search function quit working after installing Catalina. Apple may have fixed it by now, but I’ve been using Airmail since. I’m a sucker for a pretty, colorful screen and Airmail fits the bill. (It won the Apple Design Award in 2017.)

I’ve read your links, Enrico. Thank you for providing links with your comment.

If you are okay with a Ukrainian private company storing your email credentials on their servers, good for you. I’m not. I would think long and hard about allowing any company to store my email credentials. If it’s an American company, as reputable and of high character as the founders may be, they are vulnerable under the Patriot Act which requires them to hand over your credentials and not tell you or anyone else.

If it’s a foreign company, it depends on three variables:

  • the country
  • the founders
  • the built-in security (if the company loses your credentials to a disgruntled employee or a hacker, their good ethics don’t count)

Readdle fails on location (Ukraine ranks right up at the top in terms of corruption and per-capita hacking/criminal activity). I haven’t looked into the fouders of Readdle but I have seen dealt with their now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t weird pricing model on PDF Expert which is now subscription only on iOS.

So I wouldn’t have an issue with Spark if Readdle didn’t force you to hand over your email credentials, i.e. if it was all local. But they do. People should go in to Spark with their eyes very wide open.

Alec, in a post-Snowden world your comments do not make sense. But please let’s stop the discussion here and agree on the fact that we disagree.

Why don’t they make sense? An American company cannot be trusted (by law, they are unable to protect their customers’ privacy as they are compelled to do what secret courts tell them to do without disclosing the requests to the client or the public). There are other jurisdictions where people and organizations historically have been untrustworthy.

And then there are organizations and countries with a long history of rule of law, prudence and privacy. Countries like Switzerland or Canada have such a history. Even then I would look closely at who the founders are, their level of technical expertise and experience and their past track record. ProtonMail would be an example of a company in the email space with such a secure track record.

I would not store my primary email credentials with a Ukrainian or a Nigerian company (to give two examples), unless I had done deep research on that company and it had a long track record of good security and ethical behaviour.

What’s particularly pernicious here is that there’s no need to store one’s email credential on anyone else’s server. You could just use an email application which doesn’t require storing your credentials with them.

Good point about the size of database which Apple Mail can handle. Literally Apple Mail can handle hundreds of thousands or millions of emails, including search, without breaking much of a sweat. None of the competition scale like this.

For this reason, Apple Mail remains my archive email client, having tried archiving in MailSteward Pro and EagleFiler. While both are good programs, with EagleFiler getting the nod for simplicity, versatility and fair pricing (built by same developer as SpamSieve, Michael Tsai), neither offer the same kind of immediate access to archives to be able to reply to an old email like Apple Mail.

My deep recommendation is for a lighter front end IMAP client in front of Apple Mail as the archival system. When Apple Mail is only used occasionally (several time per week), its faults don’t grate and its qualities shine. Its familiarity, drag and drop interface make Apple Mail easy to pick up and put down.

In terms of versions, my main archive is still on an El Capitan machine so it is with trepidation that I learn of mail loss in Catalina. I choose to keep my email archival machine a couple of OS X iterations behind to make sure that there’s no instability in Mail.

This discussion about Spark and the past controversy over whether or not they were reselling data or had security issues on their servers came back to me when I saw this week’s Vice article that detailed how the Edison email app and Rakuten’s Slice app scrapes email from their users for profit and it reminded me of this discussion.

I do think that it’s one thing to sell aggregated data, or anonymized data, to clients like this vs. selling actual personal email details, which it doesn’t appear that Edison was doing. Still, I think that people should at least be aware that their data is being used for profit by the app. If you are ok with it, great. And I know that I start with doubts about whether a free third party app isn’t profiting off data about me and look for evidence that they are not rather than assume that they are not and then look for proof that they are.