Need suggestions on OSX email client


Dec 2, 2009
Hey guys,

So I dug out my Mac Book Air (2013 or 14, not sure) to use as my dedicated email box. With that in mind, I'm trying to sort through all the different email clients available on the Mac and figured I would see what other [H]'ers are using on their Mac setups.

My only real requirement is that it can handle a crap load of email accounts (via IMAP) - say 8-10 with a good clean UI.

BTW: The reason for this is that my home boxes (desktops and laptops) are mostly my toys / not really for productivity so I change the hardware out somewhat regularly (sometimes vertically / upgrades, sometimes horizontally/just testing similar parts) to try things out and I'm tired of having to setup MS Office Outlook whenever I setup / repair a windows box. I can load games on pretty fast (since they are all locked into STEAM or Origin or GOG) and the MS Office apps (except Outlook) go on without too much hassle.

Since this Mac Air is not upgradeable / never going under the knife, it's the only fixed box in my collection, so might as well dust it off and put it to some use.
Thanks, I'll check it out.

Also - I don't mind pay apps. As long as it's a one and done and not pay as a service. Eff that nonsense.
I understand it. Mail suffers from iTunes syndrome - Apple trying to re-invent a workflow/UX for the sake of differentiating themselves. At the same time it manages to clog the system drive with it's uncompressed, badly indexed mbox store. Poor programming + clumsy UI = bad software.

Hopefully this discussion thread doesn't turn south, but Vyedmic's comments in this thread are...questionable.

Starting from the top: Canary Mail's sole reason for existing is to provide native email encryption. From the developers:
Modern email apps for Mac such as Airmail, Spark, and Polymail attempt to strike a balance between features, user privacy, and cost – but they lack one critical piece of the puzzle that’s an absolute necessity in 2018 – email encryption.

And this is the reason we decided to build Canary.
(emphasis mine)

The only other significant departure from other common email clients is the UI (which is strange given Vyedmic's seemingly ironic statement that he thinks Apple designs UIs around a principle of being different for difference's sake).

If you have no need for native email encryption or the UI (and whatever they're referring to as natural language filters, which weren't in there when I tried Canary long ago but if they're anything like Google's implementation then thanks but no thanks) then why look there? For what it's worth, I'd trust Google's natural language filters before this small developer's algorithms but bottom line is I wouldn't trust either of them for mission critical messaging.

As for his claims about Mail being different for difference's sake: presumably we all own macs or iPhones here. Open it up. Does it look different to you? It doesn't look much different to me. I don't really want to get into it about iTunes, but in general I'd say that reliance upon iTunes is an old, outmoded criticism that hasn't been true or relevant to end users for a few years now and its original inception was how Apple brought legal music to its customers. In short, for those of us who were alive, of adult age at the time, and following the tech and media industry, iTunes was the only way the music labels were going to go along with any kind of licensing scheme and the prices were the only way the customers would have bought them. We went from Napster to iTunes and retrospectively I can unequivocally state that was the only pathway that was going to work. The point is, iTunes development has never been about differentiating itself for the sole purpose of being different.

The mail client, the music manager, the browser, and etc. are all aesthetically similar to every other popular analogue to them.

The claim that MBOX is uncompressed is objectively false and that it's poor coding contributes to file IO congestion is speculation, at best, and subjectively false. The implication that MBOX is an Apple invention is misleading. It is a standard, developed and used under UNIX; all Mozilla based clients have used a variant of MBOX, Gmail uses it, and I'd be surprised if Canary did not. As you likely already know, emails contain a variety of compressed information already. It's not obvious to me what further compressing already compressed files would net unless we're concerned about file size of any plain text storage. That said, you noted that you are going to be using a dedicated email device and IMAP so I would think that local storage should not be a primary concern in your specific situation. But by way of comparison, my university migrated to a gmail domain about a decade ago. Since that time I have probably corresponded with tens of thousands of students, hundreds of colleagues and administrative staff, and including my personal emails over that decade, yet my MBOX files collectively total just under 1.5gb. If you'd like to check yours, the email files are located in ~/Library/Mail/V5

Last, and hopefully not least, the claims made by the Canary team have been questioned:
It's not FOSS, which may or may not be important to you but certainly problematizes the security claims the team promises.

Like other solutions in search of a problem (derivative browsers and email clients like this claiming to be spyware/trackware free, ungoogled, secure, etc.) the marketing claims don't rise to necessity or even, as is often the case, scrutiny.

I'm not minimizing the need for security or possibly encryption, but do *you* need it and, if you do, is this the best way to implement it into your email workflow? Again, the question isn't what we use so much as what do you need to do with your client? What would you like to do that the native OS X client can not do or isn't able to do in a way you appreciate? Without you using it and figuring out what works or doesn't for you personally, you're just going to get a worthless list from us based on our own experiences that may or may not be relevant to your needs.
I am sorry to ruffle feathers. Please accept my apologies for wasting your time. I won't go any further into disputing your suggestions.

Mail was a hassle for me - Canary works. I am not affiliated with the developer and I was searching for Mail alternative for months.
My response was more antagonistic than I intended. I'm sorry that I came across that way.
Thanks for all the feedback guys. My main dig with Mail is simply the UI. If I was still in the ecosystem I'd probably get used to it, but my processing time is spent on 99.9% wintel setups so not really too interested in digging any further into IOS/OSX any more than I have too. Though as I get more into / back into photography - that may change.

Back on topic though - I'm test driving Spark at the moment. Seems to work well enough for what I need.
Spark looks cool. I'll test drive it myself, thank you!

I got onto Canary when it was Free Download as well, they only started charging later. Let's see if Spark can remain free.
The Spark and Mail UI look nearly identical to me, but if they look substantively different to you that's what counts.

If you want a 1:1 Windows/OS X experience, you could try Outlook or Thunderbird, I suppose.

But if you are not even interested in OS X as a platform, why bother with any of this? Might as well just install Windows or Ubuntu on that MacBook...or use a browser based email client like Gmail. And speaking of Gmail...Google offers it for free because they sell anonymized data to advertisers and other uses, Apple offers Mail for free because you paid $1500 on the laptop, so when Spark offers a mail client for free it begs the question of where the development team derives its revenue stream from.

Again, not trying to start a pissing match, but just be wary of these so-called solutions in search of a problem.
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Hah I was just looked up the answer to the opposite question. I use Mail - the default Apple mail program. As bad and crappy as it is, it's what I know, and with my email accounts (several gigs worth of crap, I don't delete anything), it may eat a lot of disk space, but it performs pretty snappily.

I can't find anything like it on Windows. I hate Outlook, and Thunderbird would be nice, but it's slow and clunky.

Maybe it's just because I've kinda grown up with Mail - I've used it since OS X 10.0, and just got used to it. Before that, I was a huge Eudora user, and the leap from Eudora to Mail wasn't very big when it first came out. Now that Eudora is open source maybe it will get resurrected.
Mailbird is the Windows equivalent to Sparrow, which you might remember was an OS X team who was acquired by Google (Gmail) a few years ago.
Is there a reason you wouldn't just use Mail?

Overzealous compliance staff mandating all applications that can sync or leak data/docs/files/etc demanding all applications, computers, and devices basically get turned into 80's nettops.

I usually send an actual DevSecOps engineer their way and forget about it.
Used thunderbird in the past, since some years stock mail with most of my IMAP accounts. and gmails are on their native apps on mobile devices and not on Mac (to lazy yet to install).no complains with stock mail for my use cases.