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An e-mail client is supposed to enable the quick organization of your inbox, saving you time and energy. Considerations for a great e-mail client include having a clean and intuitive layout, accommodation for third-party apps and services, provision of a unified space to manage multiple e-mail accounts, iCloud syncing, and of course, being bug-free. After months of using Airmail for Mac, I find that it delivers on all these expectations and more.


There are many third-party e-mail clients out there for the Mac, but I dare say that Airmail has got to be the most stunning. If I have to be using an app daily, it has to be at least pleasant to look at. Airmail meets my expectations completely and more. It has a gorgeous and sleek design that screams “USE ME”, and its features are constantly being updated, so you know that the client is always in tune with the times. Airmail is also integrated with other third-party services and productivity apps such as OmniFocus, Wunderlist, Todoist, Evernote, and Calendar just to name a few, which is wonderful if you are already on these apps. In addition, Airmail comes equipped with many pre-existing shortcuts with lots of room for further customisation, so what you have at your fingertips is a powerful tool that has plenty of potential for streamlining your workflow and boosting your productivity. If you are already using Airmail on your Mac, the Airmail app for the iPhone just came out, which allows accounts, addresses and signatures to be synced across devices – splendid news! Check out the article we wrote on Airmail for iOS here.

 

Criteria for a Great E-mail Client

  • Quick: The e-mail client should refresh and download new e-mails into the client’s inbox quickly. It should also be responsive to any commands or tasks.
  • Bug-free: Does the e-mail client crash often? Are there any bugs that interfere with user experience?
  • Interface and Design: Is the e-mail client clean and easy to use? Does it have a modern and updated design, or does it look like a relic from the 1990s?
  • Features: Does the e-mail client support basic snoozing and easy organization of e-mails? Does it support e-mail aliases? Does it have any advanced third-party app integrations?

 

Beautiful and Intuitive Interface

When you open Airmail, you will be immediately struck by its minimalist and sleek appearance. Once you have set up and synced your e-mail addresses, they appear on the left side with all the folders hidden in drop-down menus. You can customize the display buttons on the left so that they correspond to specific e-mail accounts. All you need to do to view the inbox of a single e-mail account is to click on the corresponding button to select it.

Airmail has a total of seven themes that help you personalize the appearance of your e-mail client depending on the way you work. By default, the theme is set to “Echo” (Image 1) but if you want a bigger font size (so that it’s easier on the eyes) or a more compressed layout (so that you can view more e-mail snippets), you can easily switch themes to get the feel that you want.

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Image 1: The default “Echo” theme on Airmail

 

Quick and Easy Set-up

It’s really quick and easy to set up accounts on the Airmail e-mail client. When you add a new account, you are prompted with a window asking you which e-mail service provider you use. The set-up process for Gmail, Yahoo! or Exchange e-mail accounts is incredibly easy. Just type in your e-mail address and password, and the e-mail client will configure the rest automatically for you.

For other less commonly-used e-mail service providers, you have the additional steps of typing in the incoming and sending servers (which you can probably find out from the support page of your e-mail service provider). Airmail can automatically detect the ports if you don’t know what they are.

 

Customise Airmail to Suit Your Tastes

Once you have your e-mail account set up, you can go to “Preferences” to set up your aliases if you use them. For me, I redirect e-mails from my work e-mail account to my personal Gmail account, so I want the option of replying as if I were sending the e-mail from my work account. You can easily set this up through the “Alias” tab in the settings of the specific e-mail address that you are looking for by filling in the e-mail account and authentication details of your alias, which you can also obtain from the support page of the alias’s e-mail service provider.

What I do as a form of “safety net” is to set a sending delay of a minute after I click the “Send” button, because the thing about e-mails is that we have a tendency to spot a mistake or remember something that should be on that e-mail only after sending it. When that happens, all I have to do is go to the “Drafts” folder to edit that e-mail or to cancel the delivery.

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Image 2: How Airmail’s Composer looks

 

You can also set up unique signatures, default fonts and other stylistic personalizations on the settings windows of each individual e-mail address. Airmail’s composer comes with a large library of available fonts so that you can show your unique self and personality in your e-mails, but of course be sensible and don’t go overboard by using a font like Comic Sans MS. And for goodness’ sake, change that Helvetica font that e-mail clients typically use by default. Everyone uses Helvetica, and from personal experience, the font annoys the eyes because of inconsistent spacing between the letters (please read Bloomberg’s article: Your E-mail Font Is Ruining Your Life). So unless you want to punish your e-mail recipients, use Verdana, Calibri, or Georgia. Airmail’s composer comes with a large library of available fonts so that you can show your unique self and personality in your e-mails, but of course be sensible and don’t go overboard by using a font like Comic Sans MS.

 

Productivity Tips and Tricks with Airmail

When organizing my e-mails, I use the “Inbox Zero” method. The aim of the method is to keep your inbox empty at all times. I try to delete a fair number of incoming e-mails and I star important ones. For e-mails that require more than three minutes of my time, I redirect them to my “To Do” folder or a third party To-Do list app. I respond to – or archive – the rest of the e-mails immediately. After streamlining my e-mail management process, I find that I am a lot more responsive and time-efficient.

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Image 3: The “Inbox Zero” message displayed on Airmail when your inbox is empty.

Airmail saves me loads of time by automating my workflow. There are many actions that you can set when an e-mail enters your inbox. You can label or redirect it to a folder based on the keywords or the sender of the e-mail message, and starting with Airmail 3.0, you can automatically forward the e-mail message to another e-mail address! This feature is very important for me since I outsource some of my work to freelancers, and I need updates from my work partners to circulate automatically to them so that they can be up-to-date with project details.

Shortcuts on Airmail are also what gives the e-mail client another layer of complexity for hardcore users like me who aim to shave off as much time as possible from managing e-mails. Learn important shortcuts such as backspacing (which sends an e-mail to trash) and Command + Backspace (which archives it). The shortcut that you must learn is Command + Z, which immediately reverses your last action and is really useful for undoing mistakes. There are more than 50 keyboard shortcuts available for Airmail and it takes a while to master them, but once you do, you can call yourself the master of e-mails.

There is also a small trick when you want to star an e-mail, or to mark it “read” or “unread.” Instead of using the drop-down menu to find the option, just click on the area of the e-mail snippet window where the star or the blue circle (blue circle means the e-mail is “unread”) would appear, and voilà! It’s marked!

Due to the number of options available on Airmail, you might forget where a certain tool or feature is. That is where the “Help” bar at the top comes in handy. For example, if I forget where the “Rules” setup button is, I can just type “Rules” into the bar and it will point me to where I can find it. Problem solved.

 

iCloud Syncing Across Devices

Since I use both the iPhone and Mac versions of Airmail, iCloud seamlessly connects my devices by syncing my e-mail addresses and contacts . I can save a draft on my Mac and continue working on it on my iPhone and vice versa. Starring an e-mail or labelling it on one device will apply to all devices that are synced, allowing for a frictionless workflow across all your devices. It can, however, take up to a few minutes (depending on your internet connection) for Airmail on another device to update when you open it, so don’t fret if the changes are not reflected immediately when you clear your inbox on one device and check Airmail on the other.

 

Conclusion

The absolutely elegant interface and layout makes Airmail a delight to use, and the constant updates reassure me that the product is always improving and is in the good hands of a dedicated team. The only gripe that I have about Airmail is that there is no failed delivery notification for an e-mail that fails to send (undelivered e-mails would sit in the draft box and the draft box would just turn red), and there are times when I got into trouble because I noticed it too late. On the plus side, Airmail support has been wonderful when I wrote in — they responded within minutes, understood my problem and forwarded my suggestion to their development team. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason for a successful and “truly stunning” e-mail client: great and committed support.


About Author

Wee Yang is the founder of Barely Efficient, a digital content specialist and a scholar of anthropology. He is curious and passionate about new technologies and how it can drive self-improvement. Many people cannot tell if he is Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, and he absolutely cannot live without bubble tea. In his spare time, he writes flash stories and lip-syncs to American and Korean pop hits, and fantasizes about better ways to get things done. View Full Profile

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