Mac Email Client Showdown – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Sadly my all-time favorite email client Sparrow was killed by Google after they acquired them last year. Like many Sparrow users the Google acquisition scared me, would they kill my favorite email client? The answer was “Yes” and once again I was the on the search for a good email client for the Mac.

It’s weird, even though more and more people are using Macs than ever before, there is very little competition in the desktop email space. This could be due to the fact that doing email from within a desktop app is a thing of the past, or that there’s not much money in making an email client since people can check their email for free.

Either way, call me old school but I like to use desktop email clients, and I loved Sparrow. While the company is still doing major bug fixes, for now, the Google acquisition was all about getting the Sparrow team to come to Google while the app slowly dies off leaving users like me, and many others, in the dust.

So I started a search for a new Mac email client and in the process have found the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s go in reverse order because I think that’s a bit more fun.


The Ugly: Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird looked promising when Mozilla first released it, and then, well, they lost steam, screwed-up their Mac OS support, and in the end created a buggy product. You can check-out some of the Thunderbird reviews on CNET and you’ll find some not-so-happy customers.

I do love Mozilla as a company but it is clear this product hasn’t worked-out. In fact they even said this in a blog post where they announced that Thunderbird would not be innovating any more but just stay focused on sustainability for now:

“Much of Mozilla’s leadership — including that of the Thunderbird team — has come to the conclusion that on-going stability is the most important thing, and that continued innovation in Thunderbird is not a priority for Mozilla’s product efforts.”


The Bad: Mac Mail

I know some people are happy using Mac Mail, but honestly I think that’s because you don’t know what you’re missing. To me it’s like when you meet someone with a flip phone that says they don’t understand what’s so exciting about a smart phone. Then they get an iPhone and don’t know how they lived without it.

Mac Mail comes free on the Mac and does a pretty good job with basic email functionality. Still it’s quite clunky and has weird quirks like problems sending EPS files and I’ve always had weird folder funkiness with gMail.

I know there are some die-hard Mac Mail users that won’t be happy with this review but honestly once I started using Sparrow I saw how bad Mac Mail really was.


The Good: Postbox

While Sparrow always was my favorite I have to say that transitioning to Postbox has been a great experience so far. Postbox is a lot like Sparrow and while the UI might not be quite as slick, the functionality is there and it’s nice and fast. Macworld wrote a solid review of Postbox and it looks like many of Sparrow’s existing users are starting to migrate over.

Postbox also has great Evernote integration and can pull in Facebook and Twitter profile picts so you can get the same visual elements Sparrow was famous for.

So if you’ve been on the lookout for a good Mac email client Postbox may have answered your prayers, for now. Still the space is open for another contender and with so many people using Macs for business it’s only a matter of time before more a new “Sparrow” spreads its wings.

Feel free to share your experiences with any of the email clients listed above, or any email client you’d recommend as a good sparrow alternative.

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • February 28, 2013, 1:20 pm

    I am checking my Thunderbird right now but I am not using a Mac but I like the email client! I find it very easy to use and it only takes a second to add a new email address!

  • Morgan February 28, 2013, 1:44 pm

    @Bako – if you’re happy with it there’s no reason to change 🙂 That being said, just know that there are much better email clients out there. I’m always into using the latest-and-greatest but there’s nothing wrong with saying, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

  • February 28, 2013, 1:56 pm

    Yeah, I am not doing anything special with it, just receiving emails from the server and reply back on the right domain now. 🙂 for some reason setting up email on a linux server is pretty tricky when you have a bunch of domains running on it. It’s technical haha I want to sit down and really figure it out one day!

  • Jay February 28, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Give Mailplane a shot, works great for me.

  • owen frager February 28, 2013, 5:57 pm

    Take it from the longest MAC user out there- nothing beats outlook for MAC

  • Morgan February 28, 2013, 8:09 pm – if you’re just dealing with one email account you should be fine. I’m running multiple accounts so need a client that really excels there.

    @Jay – I will check it out!

    @Owen – Outlook is definitely a HUGE improvement on Entourage, about time! That being said I do find it is just a bit slower that Sparrow/Postbox especially when managing 5+ accounts.

  • Tristan March 1, 2013, 2:08 pm

    I’m waiting for .mail – In the meantime I’m stuck with sparrow. Used to use Mailplane as well but prefer a unified inbox.

  • Dean March 8, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Two new ones this week worth trying are Airmail Beta and Inky


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