@Email Client Wars Pt 2: Returning to an old friend

In a previous post I discussed my search for the perfect email client. Airmail and Spark where the two contenders with Spark ending up as the preferred option. Spark stayed on all my devices for some months however on hearing from David Sparks Mac Power Users1 and Federico Vittici Macstories on a an update to Airmail2 I decided to go all in and give it another shot.

Unfortunately after a couple of months Airmail didn’t work out. In principle the idea of a power user email client sounds great however the implementation isn’t up to scratch. Plagued with bugs, UI inconsistencies and notifications that worked intermittently Airmail didn’t live up to the hype. Going back to Spark seemed like the only option however that too was underwhelming. In the end I decided to take a look at what I was looking for.

Email is an important business tool for me however it becomes an anchor at times and even after implementing Slack across my teams the volume is quite over the top. To determine the best app for me I really needed to consider what exactly are my needs and from there source the client that best fits my needs. What was I looking for then?

  • Clean UI
  • Few bugs, tricks or gimmicks ( I spend too long in email to work around them)
  • Snoozing
  • Unified Inbox
  • Minimal friction to get things done

Going back to Spark as I mentioned underwhelmed me whilst a solid client the UI appeared to crowed. In an attempt to look different many UI elements that were not functional took up valuable screen real estate. Snoozing was great emoji responses were not – I could not have imagined sending an emoji response to my boss!

The search continued with Airmail staying as my client of choice until I saw a tweet about SaneBox the service which helps manage the email beast.

SaneBox learns what email is important to you and filters out what isn’t – savings you from endless interruptions.

I watched the introductory video and signed up for the free trial. In conjunction with Airmail it worked OK however it made one of the features I liked in Airmail redundant. In addition the new triage folders didn’t display so well in Airmail and left me to think about of an alternate client.

In the Macstories review of iOS 10 Vittici note the changes made for iPad were minimal however some were quite useful. One example were the improvements to mail which allowed for three panes to be viewed in landscape; folders, inbox and the actual email.

As a trial I moved my exchange and icloud accounts over to the Apple Mail client incorporating the SaneBox triage folders. For me this has been a resounding success. Over a few short weeks I have trained my email with the help of SaneBox unimportant emails go to a SaneLater folder, newsletters to another and i am only interrupted by what is important – funnily enough its very few. Now I only check my emails twice a day.

Apple’s Mail is simple and bare bones however it is this simplicity that makes it powerful and far more user friendly. The less bells and whistles makes for a much better work environment that is distraction free3. Distraction free has become an important selling point for many apps particularly writing apps like Ulysses.

SaneBox has filled a gap adding the snooze feature missing from Apple Mail which is a must have in my workflow. Snooze comes in two flavours; tomorrow and next week (Monday morning) however there is a more powerful specific time customer folder that can be created as well. This feature allows you to create a custom snooze for a set number of hours, days or weeks; great for emails with actions.

SaneBox also has a reminders feature. SaneReminders notifies you when an email you sent wasn’t responded to by a certain time (just CC or BCC tomorrow@sanebox.com, monday.9am@sanebox.com). This can also remind you to come back to an email you need to reply or follow up on.

Dependant on the subscription4 you signed up for you have multiple options and other folders.

  • Archive
  • Custom trained folders
  • On forwarding folders
  • Vacation
  • Custom snooze
  • No reply folder
  • Spam black hole

SaneBox provides a web dashboard where you can train/untrained folders, statistics on you folder and email usage, and time saved. if during the course of the first few weeks with SaneBox you move emails to folders where you would like them to go then you will spend very little time in the dashboard. It is very handy though for fine tuning your subscription.

SaneBox is not necessarily the saviour to all your email issues. It is however a great tool and one when paired with the Apple mail client really shines. It has given me back some much needed time and organised my email beast. The cost is small when you consider the time saved and it costs nothing to try. If you use this link you’ll get $5 off your first month.

  1. MPU #328: iOS Email
  2. Airmail 1.3
  3. Not to mention bug free!!
  4. There are a number of subscription options with very reasonable pricing and payment options.