Update: I’ve written a new article detailing the best Mac (and iOS) email app that I believe is currently the best which you can read here.
Not long ago when I discovered Polymail I wrote a news piece about it saying it looked like the best Mac email app to have ever existed. I said in that article that I was dying to use it and now that I have been using it for a couple of weeks I am able to write up a full review. In a nutshell, Polymail is easily the best email app for Mac (that claim definitely holds up) thanks to a clean design and a TON of really useful and interesting features — but being the best isn’t the same as being perfect. This is still very much a beta project and whether or not you should get it now or wait for a public release will depend on a few factors.
So Many Great Features
What sets Polymail apart from all other email apps for Mac users is the huge feature set. Over the years lots of different email products have surfaced, many of which offered one unique and innovative new feature on top of the “regular” email experience. Well Polymail unabashedly takes the best of those ideas and combines them into one convenient super-app — just like I’ve been wishing would happen for what seems like forever now. For someone who gets a lot of email (when you’re a tech blogger you get a LOT of pitches on top of your normal email workload) it’s basically a dream come true.
Polymail may be in beta mode, but it actually feels a lot more polished than a beta product (although it isn’t quite bug free — more on that later).
In order, here are my favorite features of Polymail:
I really love the unsubscribe button. I get put on a lot of crappy email lists and there are several that make unsubscribing hard or near impossible. And I’ll admit I sign up for several services every month (for personal use or to write about) that I know will end up spamming me. Being able to easily unsubscribe from right within Polymail is a thing of beauty. And what’s even cooler is that it works on several of those hard to unsubscribe newsletters I just mentioned. That is awesome.
I really love being able to see when someone reads my emails. I really, really like it. It harkens back to the American Online days. But it’s a very useful feature.
Absolutely butt-saving is the feature that lets you unsend emails. I’m not sure if it ever happens to you, but I’ve often sent an email that I realized what inaccurate or contains some atrocious auto-“corrected” obscenity just as I hit the send button. The undo send feature really helps to cut down on follow-up emails. It helps you get it right the first time, even if the first time to your recipient is really to eighth time to you.
I use the snooze feature frequently in lots of email programs and it works great in Polymail. Snooze options include: later today, this evening, tomorrow morning, tomorrow evening, this weekend, next week, in a month and pick a date. I like that everything is customizable.
The ability to send an email later, but write it now, is powerful. It’s a productivity hack for sure. If you know you’re going to be busy tomorrow and also know you’ve got a large amount of information you’re going to need to communicate to several people, get it done ahead of time. As a writer, I schedule blog posts all the time using WordPress and it helps me get more done.
Finally, I love the optional ability to see more info on people I’m communicating with. Let’s say someone emails me out of the blue with a pitch: if they’ve got any info publicly available on social media, Polymail will fetch it and stick it all into a fly-out side panel. If it’s a person I’ve been communicating with for awhile, that same panel will display relevant messages underneath the person’s info.
I guess that all of these little extras add up to one mega feature. I love having all of this power and convenience at my fingertips. I might not use every feature every day, but it’s so cool knowing that it’s there if and when I want it.
But there’s actually one more feature I really love…
Polymail’s design is one of it’s best features. Most email apps — especially the ones available for Mac users — are really, truly ugly. Even Apple’s Mail app is fairly boring and utilitarian. I’ll stop short of calling Polymail beautiful, but the design is neither plain nor boring. It’s got some fun icons, some useful splashes of color, the right amount of space in-between elements… in short, it’s enjoyable.
Despite everything Polymail can do, the interface isn’t crowded. In fact, I’d say subtlety and tastefulness underscores everything. I love how the mailboxes bar is dark while the message panes are lighter. I love how everything isn’t just white and light grey.
Beta Bugs and Possible Improvements
Polymail is in beta which means the team is still testing features with a limited group of users. That means the team doesn’t quite feel like the product is ready for a primetime wide release. So current users are getting a lot of update notifications. And you certainly don’t have to update, but I’m happy to. The only bad thing about the updates is that several of them mean you’ll need to re-sync your entire email account (or accounts). And that’s really the biggest “hassle” I’ve run into at this point — which really is a non-issue.
Like I said earlier, this already feels like a highly-polished product.
The only “bug” I’ve found thus far — which may have already been fixed for all I know — is that the contacts pane on the right side of the app sometimes reopens after I’ve closed it.
One small improvement I’d love to see the team make would be the ability to resize the dark mailboxes panel on the left side of the app; it would be great to minimize that all the way down to just the icons with no text (for users with smaller screens or people who just want to maximize screen space).
I loved Polymail from the very second I first heard about it — before I had ever used it. It immediately habited an almost mythological place in my head as if it were some sort of superhero that couldn’t possibly exist. But it does exist — it and all of it’s incredibly useful superpowers — and it comes to my rescue many times daily. Thus my love for the app has only grown over the last couple of weeks of use and I know based on the updates I’ve already seen that it’s only going to get better. It’s rare for me to gush about an app — particularly one that tackles something as mundane as email — but this app is truly amazing: it is, unequivocally, the very best, coolest and most useful email app in existence.