Despite the meteoric rise of business communication app Slack (and the recent launch of the competing app Workplace by Facebook) and despite the existence of popular team and project communication tools like Asana and Trello (not to mention various other chat and messenger apps) email continues to be a necessary business communication channel. That being the case it only makes sense to be using the very best email app/client you can get your hands on. For Mac and iOS users my current top recommendation is Airmail, for several reasons.
I didn’t always feel this Airmail was king. About a year ago my favorite email app was the recently launched Polymail (which was then in beta). While I still think Polymail is a solid option, I no longer consider it the best email app on the market. Long story short, all of the features I said I loved about Polymail can be basically be found in Airmail (with the exception of extra info on contacts which I never actually ended up using/needing).
Actually, Airmail and Polymail have several overlapping features (as do several other email apps) but there’s something about the way that Airmail packages everything (which is a bit hard to quantify and to put into words) that gives it an edge in my brain (and in my workflow).
What I mean is that these apps are pretty similar on paper — there are even places where someone clearly copied design features from one program to another — but the overall experience in Airmail feels superior to me. It’s a bunch of fairly subtle features and options that add up to a noticeable difference.
Airmail’s got all the big features I liked from Polymail: the ability to easily unsubscribe from junk mail, read receipts, the option to write an email and send it later and the ability to unsend a message. But where Airmail really separates itself from Polymail (and all other email apps) is in customization options: you can customize just about everything (to the point that it seems even some of the options have options).
Most email apps have at least some basic customization settings but Airmail takes this to the (next) next-level. You can customize the look of the app with different themes, you can customize swipe actions (with several actions per left and right swipe directions) and you can customize how much of an email is previewed in the inbox view. And that’s just a short list of customization options.
One major thing for me — a small feature with an enormous impact — is the ability to change what happens after I archive or send a message. I HATE it when email apps auto-select another message after I send or archive an email and then automatically mark it as read. That is my all-time greatest annoyance with email apps. Airmail is literally the only app that acts the way I want it to after I send or archive an email.
When I send or archive in Airmail I’ve got it setup to auto-archive that email (send and archive) and then… do nothing. No selecting the next email and marking it read even when I haven’t read it! YES! Finally. I’ve tested so many email apps promising many great things but this one feature is enough to keep me coming back to Airmail.
But I also feel like Airmail has the best selection of integrations. There are a ton to choose from including, but not limited to, Google Drive, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Asana, GitHub, Instapaper, OmniFocus, Fantastical, Evernote, Byword, Due, Things and many, many more. Personally I love (and use) the Trello, Pocket, Todoist and Deliveries integrations the most.
I’m also a fan of the way Airmail handles inbox filtering. If my inbox is overloaded I can sort it a variety of useful ways using the simple and clean bar that automatically appears only when I need it at the bottom of my inbox. I can easily see only unread messages, only messages with attachments, on threaded conversations or only mail sent today. Additionally there is a smart filtering option that can show me only mail that Airmail thinks I will be most interested in based on my previous email habits.
When it comes to design I like, but don’t love, the Airmail experience. It’s certainly good enough — and I do enjoy using it — but it’s not as good as some other email apps I’ve used in the past. I tend to prefer ultra-minimal interfaces. Actually I’d say I really love the way Airmail looks on iOS — it’s just the Mac version that I’m less psyched about.
Nothing beats a reliable workhorse — not shiny new features, not incredible design — nothing. And Airmail has become my reliable email workhorse. Of course it packs some great features and a nice design too.
So while it might not be far and away the best email app for Mac and iOS, it’s the best in my eyes at the moment. For me it’s what fits the best (and that makes a lot of sense because it’s so freaking adaptable).