Someone smarter than us once said that email is a “to-do list made for you by other people”. Be that as it may, email is a necessary evil for most of us, but navigating it needn’t be a pain. The vast majority of email users use Microsoft’s Outlook or Google’s Gmail, but that’s no reason to stick to their accompanying mobile apps. Here are some of the best alternatives for getting on top of your inbox, and staying there.
Technically a reworked Gmail, Inbox is a free app that tries to ensure you never miss an important email while keeping the frivolous ones at bay. It groups related emails together, shows you pertinent info (like upcoming travel plans and recent online purchases) without needing to actually open the email in question, and lets you set reminders or mark key emails for follow-up. Sadly, Inbox only works with Gmail accounts, but if you already live in Google’s email ecosystem it’s well worth a look. You can also run it alongside other email apps to see if its smart-filtering is for you before committing to it entirely.
Edison Mail (Android, iOS)
Another free option for Android or iOS, Edison mail supports AOL, Exchange, Gmail, Hotmail, IMAP, Office 365, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail. It also automatically categorises emails and is particularly adept at handing travel information like flight details. Set up custom swipe actions to help you cleave through your inbox as though you’re playing Fruit Ninja. Our favourite feature? The option to bulk unsubscribe from mailing lists that are cluttering your inbox, closely followed by the “unsend” option that gives you a little while to reconsider after you’ve hit send on a message.
Designed with Apple users in mind, Airmail supports Gmail, Exchange, IMAP and POP systems, and offers a range of gesture controls, powerful filtering options and excellent third-party app support for importing documents or saving attachments. It’ll also handle multiple accounts (and multiple email signatures) with aplomb, and support for 3D Touch makes it possible to peek at emails without opening them. We particularly like the option to open links in browsers other than Safari. Airmail costs R80 once off.
Trying to stay on top of lots of different email accounts? Newton Mail offers one of the slickest unified inboxes we’ve ever seen. It offers two-factor authentication too, so you can keep those multiple inboxes away from prying eyes. Newton Mail supports Exchange, Gmail, iCloud, and IMAP and also plays nicely with Todoist, Evernote, OneNote, Pocket, Trello, Zendesk, Salesforce, Asana and other third-party productivity apps. It also lets you schedule emails, so you can reply to emails at 1am but only have them show up in inboxes at 8am, so people don’t think you’re an insomniac taskmaster. There are also great clients for macOS X and Windows, so you can have the same experience on desktop you do on mobile. You’ll need an annual subscription, but there’s a 14-day free trial to see if it’s the right fit for you.
Trove (Android, iOS)
The real strength of Trove lies in its ability to make connections from the people you email most often, or who email you, and who other people in your team regularly interact with, too. It supports Gmail (and business G Suite accounts) along with Office 365 and IMAP, and really comes into its own when you link multiple email accounts for multiple users in the same organisation so it can look out for those sales leads you might’ve otherwise missed. Subscriptions start at $2/user/month.
Designed with enterprise users in mind, Boxer offers a range of gesture controls and lets you manage multiple email accounts, calendars and your contacts all from a single app. You can also create canned responses for frequent replies and, in addition to supporting Exchange, Office 365, Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and iCloud email systems, it also integrates with third-party business apps like Box, Evernote and Google Drive to make handling attachments and getting them to the necessary people easier.
Another AI-powered email manager, Astro Mail offers a unified inbox for multiple accounts and prioritises your email so you never miss the big ones, but aren’t bogged down by the irrelevant ones. You can even set it to only notify you of important emails, and it integrates brilliantly with calendar services so you can keep an eye on appointments or make changes to them without leaving your inbox. You can even chat to the AI and ask it to do things like archive all emails from your bookclub (you weren’t going to read them anyway).
This one costs R110 and really does take the email-as-to-do-list approach to heart. Serious about sorting and categorising, Dispatch’s real strength is the way it can interact with other apps like Evernote, Pocket and Fantastical. It’s other secret weapon is the ability to create “snippets” of frequent responses that you can add to replies with a tap, so you’ll never again have to type your office address or diplomatically decline an invitation to an irrelevant event. Dispatch is good with IMAP mail service, but sadly doesn’t work with POP email accounts.
With smart sorting, great gesture controls and support for bulk actions, Spark is an elegant way to get a little closer to your quest for the ever-elusive inbox zero. In addition to support for Mac and iOS there’s an Apple Watch app if you really need to get important messages on the go, and you can add multiple email accounts from the likes of Exchange, iCloud, Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo. Smart notifications and the ability to store and use multiple signatures make Spark a particularly sound choice for Apple fans who’d like to bid the default Apple Mail app farewell.
So, you’re a card-carrying member of team open source and you’re looking for an email client with support for IMAP, POP, and WebDAV accounts? Want support for multiple email accounts and a unified inbox, too, along with support for OpenPGP encryption via an OpenKeychain add-on? Well then, you’ve come to the right place. The layout might look a little dated, but you can jazz it up with various themes. And because it’s an ongoing project, who knows what features are yet to come?