As the official release of Lion approaches, one of the things that many of us are excited about is an overhauled Mail.app. Among other improvements, the interface has been overhauled so that it’s much more like its iPad counterpart, especially where threading is concerned.
However, here at AppStorm we’re still huge fans of one of the best Mac email clients around: Postbox, which you can download and start using today. With an all new version, Postbox is more enticing than ever as a powerful, professional alternative to the native Mac Mail client. Let’s take a brief look at what it has to offer.
My Favorite Features: Oldies But Goodies
For those of you who haven’t used Postbox before, here are a few reasons you just might love it. These features have been around for a while but are still a main part of the overall Postbox experience.
Sorting mail windows is a pain. I’m fairly ADD when it comes to email so at any given time I’m bouncing around from message to message with three different compose windows open. Tabs are a breath of fresh air to this madness and once you start using them you’ll never go back.
Tabs aren’t just for Safari. In my opinion they should be integrated throughout OS X, especially in the Finder and Mail. Apple doesn’t seem to be interested in making either of these dreams come true so we rely on Postbox and TotalFinder to get the job done!
Effortless Account Setup
Mail.app has come a long way with account setup. However, I use some complicated accounts that require extra steps and can never quite remember how to get everything to route properly in Mail. There are lots of complicated settings and if you don’t get them just right, your email simply won’t work.
When setting up Mail.app on these types of accounts, I inevitably get frustrated and start typing in every possible solution I can think of to make everything function properly. With Postbox, I just type in my email and password and it works! Even though my Gmail addresses route through custom domains, Postbox figures it all out in a split second and gets me up and running without a single curse word.
One of the main reasons I downloaded Postbox is because of AppStorm manager David Appleyard. Every time we started an email conversation, his emails would come in with this beautifully threaded list of past emails. They were far greater than the mess I was used to and I just had to know how he did it.
The answer was simple: Postbox. The “Summarize Mode” automatically takes care of reply and forward formatting so that anyone viewing the email conversation can instantly and easily tell who said what.
How many times per day do you fire off a quick email reply with only a few words in it? With Mail.app, every reply opens a new message window but Postbox has this neat little “Quick Reply” window that sits right in the original message body that allows you to respond right away.
It’s a small feature but is once again one of those features that you come to depend on and miss sorely when it’s gone!
New in Postbox 2.5
Now that we’ve covered why you should’ve already been using Postbox, let’s tempt you even more by taking a look at some of the new features in version 2.5.
Speed is high on everyone’s list of priorities. I want a fast startup and messages that load in an instant. Fortunately, Postbox 2.5 runs in 64 bit mode so you can expect to see some pretty dramatic speed increases throughout the entire app.
One of the things that I’ve always really liked about Evernote is the ability to set up my panes however I see fit. The view that I landed on utilizes vertical columns rather than the stacked, item list on top, preview on bottom view that you see in Mail.app. I really like this setup always wanted Mail to have a similar option.
With Postbox 2.5, you an awesome vertical column layout, similar to Evernote’s, right in your email. Combine this with Postbox’s innovative Focus Pane and you’ve got an unbeatably efficient way to browse through your mountain of email.
Small UI Tweaks & a Major Message Thread Redesign
The entire Postbox interface has received a minor but welcome facelift. If you haven’t used Postbox in a while you may not even notice the new theme or updated icons, but what you will notice is the completely overhauled message view.
New message view
Basically, what has happened here is a simplification and realignment of all of the various bits of information within a message. They really thought through how to organize conversations in the best way possible. For instance, the layout is such that as you move from message to message, the alignment of reoccurring bits of information stays static so that there’s no jarring transition. The result is a lot less eye movement and much easier message browsing.
As always, each message in a conversation can be opened and collapsed, making it really easy to see exactly what you need to without all the clutter.
Conclusion: Worth the $19.95?
The popular trend in software right now is less, not more. Typically feature-laden apps like text editors and email clients are stripping out features and giving you a simple blank canvas to work with.
This works well for some people and not so well for others. For instance, I love the simplicity and beauty of Sparrow, a popular email client made to mimic the Twitter for Mac interface. However, my email load and feature needs are simply too cumbersome for such a simple client so it’s really not something that I can use.
In a time where professional feature sets are becoming more and more difficult to come by, Postbox is an awesome reminder that there are still developers out there committed to bringing us all-in-one powerhouse apps that really get the job done right.
There’s just so much in Postbox that I can’t get from other email clients on the Mac. For instance, how many of us would love to see Mail.app give us the ability to apply custom tags to important email as it comes in so we can keep everything organized? This is built right into Postbox along with a bunch of other features I’d kill to see in Mail.
For professionals that live in their inbox as much as I do, Postbox is well with $20 or even double that. Leave a comment below and let us know if you’ve tried Postbox before and what you thought. Have the new features in version 2.5 encouraged you to take another look?