Mac clients for Gmail

I’ve been going back and forth between mail clients again. I keep finding issues with the ones I’ve tried. Lately standard Mail has had search problems. Spark has image handling problems. And there are other issues too.

For the last few days I’ve returned to MailPlane, which I believe Adam uses (or used to use). I’m finding it quite nice.

  1. Filing is easy.

  2. Search is great.

  3. Image annotations are simple but sufficient (adding arrows and text).

  4. The email is always “just there.”

  5. The tabs for each account with separate unread badges is convenient.

For now I turned off (didn’t delete) the Gmail accounts in regular Mail and am just using it for iCloud and regular IMAP.

There is no send again though. I’m going to try some suggested workaround.

Also, as in regular Gmail on the web there is no tabbing. But I can copy/paste from Excel and it somehow works.


I have no desire to run my mail through gmail. Is there any consensus on a different alternative to Mac Mail?

The real question…since the website says it is a gmail client…is how well does it d for regular IMAP mail accounts?

I don’t think Gmail does not handle regular IMAP accounts. I have 6 email accounts. My three main ones are Gmail, so this works for me. My standard IMAP accounts, and iCloud account, are not used for much email.

Yes, Mailplane is Gmail-specific, as is Mimestream, which is what I’m using these days.

Can you sum up what is nicer about Mimestream? I’ll go look it up in the meantime.

Mailplane is basically a wrapper around the Gmail Web interface, which gives it additional functionality while being a Gmail-native experience. Mimestream is a full Mac app that relies on the Gmail API to give the same level of performance (though it’s a touch slower to search, which I suspect is due to its need to receive the results and format them).

@julio wrote about it recently in Mimestream Brings Gmail Features to a Mac Email App - TidBITS and I’ve been using it ever since. The developer is extremely responsive and doing good work, and I find it a fluid client.

Do note that its image handling is weak like Spark’s. If I’m doing much with images in a message, I fall back to Mailplane or Gmail in a browser.

I have been using Airmail as the interface to my GMail account And havebeen pretty satisfied.

I gave Mimestream a try yesterday and found it very lacking in just about everything I do, compared with Mailplane. You can’t even use basic standard key shortcuts, like v, to label and archive a message. The filing is one of the best things I like about Gmail. That works great in Mailplane. It also works ok in standard Mail if you add the MsgFiler plugin. But with Mailplane you can take advantage of Gmail’s ability to handle multiple labels per message.

In Mimestream I tried to adjust a label name and something got screwed up. I had to go back to Mailplane and adjust about 20 labels as a result.

I don’t get what the merits of Mimestream are. I looked over the site, and the roadmap, etc., but there were no comparison tables. It would be nice to see a comparison of Mimestream vs Mailplane features. Is it just appearance for you?

You have to make sure Gmail shortcuts are selected in Preferences > General. Then v and similar shortcuts work exactly as you’d expect.

Gmail’s native interface (and thus what Mailplane provides) is very limited when it comes to working on larger screens. You can’t see things in separate windows, and I find it very cluttered when showing labels, messages, and a message preview. I was also having some problems that I can’t remember at the moment; they were what drove me to try Spark for a while too. But Spark was dangerous because it marked messages as read way too easily, such that I lost track of them inadvertently.

Don’t get me wrong, I used Mailplane for many years and liked it, but there were some things about Gmail that were getting on my nerves. And it was just nice to switch to something that provided a native Mac interface.

The v shortcut is now working. Thanks for that tip. What doesn’t work (and I believe the developer mentions this in his roadmap) is the ‘g l’ shortcut to to to a label and see all the emails there. That inhibits searching somewhat.

It does look pretty, I’ll grant you that. I will try it some more today.

I really do need at least basic image annotation though. Even just text and arrows would do. I send screenshots to clients all the time and want to point things out.

I gave up on Spark for now for other reasons, including the lack of image handling.

Anyway, I’ll try this some more today. Thanks!


Mimestream definitely is very nice looking. I immediately feel comfortable in in, with the separate windows you mention. I will see how my other “must haves” are:

  • Image handling
  • Send again (not in Gmail or Mailplane either though)
  • Filing (seems good!)
  • Searching (seems good so far, except for no way to get to a label easily)

I’ll play with it more today. Thanks.


Can this thread be renamed “Mac Gmail clients”. I avoid gmail for many reasons so I was disappointed when I took a look at this thread to find that it was really only about gmail.

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I don’t know if there’s a consensus, but I’ve recently moved from Mac Mail to MailMate and am loving it. Highly customisable, fast, excellent search and smart mailboxes, and I like its approach to email. It’s been mentioned several times on TidBITS Talk:

If you’re looking for something more in the line of combined email/calendar/contacts, I was recently made aware of EM Client. I’ve never tried it myself, but might be worth looking into if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

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My needs are pretty pedestrian, and I’m not really dissatisfied with Apple’s Mail, but I wouldn’t mind having something better. I’ve been considering Mozilla’s Thunderbird for a while, and am a bit surprised to find it hasn’t been mentioned here. Anyone give me a reason?

I’ve mentioned Thunderbird many times in the past, but since this topic comes up a lot, I feel like I’m wasting everybody’s time by bringing it up every time.

I generally use web-mail interfaces, but when I want to use an app, I use Thunderbird. Mostly out of habit (I’ve been using this code-base ever since it was part of Netscape Communicator) and partly because it is a cross-platform app, so I can run it on my Windows and Linux PCs with (nearly) the same experience.

It’s downside is that the UI is not very Mac-like. Its legacy Unix roots are quite visible, which some people don’t like.

Thanks for the tip! Given MailMate’s 30 day trial period, I can give it a decent workout to check how well it fits.

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I seldom use labels in this way, but I do note that there’s a Go menu with keyboard shortcuts for the primary labels, plus command for next and previous label. But it does seem like the gl command would be ideal for access to any arbitrary label.

Hmm… I just tried MailMate and was turned off by a couple of things right away:

  • Most modern email clients at least try to figure out your IMAP and SMTP server and fill it in for you. MailMate doesn’t seem to do that, so it’s a nuisance to set up your accounts.

  • I set up one account (my personal Gmail account) and it appears to have started downloading all my emails going back to 2012! This was going very slowly. It seemed like it was going to take forever until I could see my latest email. So I just quit it and deleted the app.


Hi. New here.

New job. New email.

I’m a long time Thunderbird user having only grudgingly moved over from emacs rmail decades ago when it became too difficult to manage all the mime mail I was receiving.

New job uses exchange, no access to imap so I’ve been making a round of email clients that can do exchange.

Thunderbird, with Exquilla ($10/year), can do it, but it seems to authenticate oddly. Sometimes I can’t send. I can’t even authenticate without VPN. Note that thunderbird also runs on linux, which is a win. (It runs on windows too, but I’ll never use windows, so…)

Apple Mail does exchange and has actions so I can automatically file mailing lists away, but a) it uses a lot of screen real estate to show me junk that takes me a longer time to visually sort through and b) it requires multi-hand chording for common actions like “Archive”. There doesn’t seem to be a fix for either one. The iOS version is similar, which is perhaps a win, though I’ll probably never read my work email on a personal device.

Spark does exchange and it’s display is more akin to Mail but not so bad. And it can remap command keys so it can do single keystroke commands for common items. But it has no actions whatsoever and no way to sort on arbitrary headers. I’m finding it a useful adjunct with Apple Mail. The two together give me most of what I want though I really miss the ease of Thunderbird. Without actions, Spark is still just a toy, IMO.

Spark does cache all of your config, including your accounts, so that Spark running elsewhere, like other macs, other ios, etc, only need one login and they’re configured. I admit that’s a major nuisance with a dozen devices and a few dozen email accounts. But the lack of actions is still a killer here.

I also recently tried Airmail. I’ve been a purchaser of Airmail for years, one of those, “I’ll buy you now in hopes that you’ll develop into a useful tool”. But they’ve recently given me the finger by switching to subscription. :(. And they don’t have single keystroke commands, though they do have actions, and they’re the old Apple Mail style display. All in all, not much of a win.

Most of the other options I’ve seen listed in this thread are IMAP/SMTP only and for that, Thunderbird is, by far, the biggest winner there. Nothing else can come close to managing the volume of email I deal with or of displaying the info I need to see from the email, (like headers).

If anyone knows of another exchange capable MUA that can do automated actions and has single character keystrokes, I’d be interested to hear about it.