Half of the world assumes that Email is dead or at least dying, while the other half of us desperately search for the Next Best Email App™. Mail.app’s a pretty great email app — especially for power users — now that its Gmail integration got fixed, and Airmail’s winning acclaim as the Sparrow replacement everyone’s been waiting for with its customizable UI. There’s also the new Unibox that aims to simplify email even more where you’ll never need to archive or file messages, and old standbys like Postbox and Outlook.
And then, there’s MailMate, a power-user email app that’d I’d managed to not notice until it was mentioned in a recent AppStorm comment. It’s lightweight, insanely fast, and is packed with keyboard shortcuts, advanced search and smart mailboxes, Markdown support, and more that make it the ultimate power-user email app. And now, its developer is raising funds on Indiegogo to make v2 better than ever.
Building an Email App for the Pros
Developed by Benny Nielsen, a Copenhagen, Denmark based developer, MailMate was surprisingly released in early 2011 — around the same time Sparrow was first released. But rather than focus on trimming down features and making a beautifully simple email app, MailMate was designed specifically for email power users. It’s lightweight — the app itself is only 12.7Mb and takes only around 50Mb of Ram — and yet it’s lightening-fast. It downloads new messages faster than Mail.app, and has incredibly impressive search that’s equally fast. You can look for anything in a message — from the app it was sent with to the time it was received — and turn these detailed searches into smart mailboxes that’ll automatically find the messages you need.
To top it off, you can write rich emails in Markdown, browse through your email conversations with the unique Thread Arcs view, encrypt your messages, use Gmail style tags, and access almost everything in the app with keyboard shortcuts. There’s even a delayed send option that can send a message anytime you want based on your real-language commands. There’s no native notifications, but there is Growl support — and, better yet, menubar integration that’ll let you reply or archive messages without switching back to the app. And, if you enable its experimental features right now, it can send messages to OmniFocus or Reminders.app so you can follow up on them later. It’s a power-user’s email dream come true.
It’s tough to make groundbreaking new apps, though, and MailMate isn’t currently making enough to let its developer continue to focus on it full-time. That could change, though, if its current crowd-funding round for MailMate 2.0 is successful. Nielsen is raising $25k to develop the next version, which — in addition to keeping the app up-to-date, and possibly seeing a visual refresh — will add support for bundles, which are described as “a set of commands, smart mailboxes, various settings, and anything else which forms a natural group of functionality, for example, anything related to a particular type of emails, a particular application, or some company/organization.” The new OmniFocus/Reminders integration is the first example of Mailmate bundles, but there’s more coming, including ways to integrate with support systems and use MailMate to manage your email lists.
The campaign has already raised nearly half of its goal, and if you’d like to see it succeed, head over to Indiegogo and back MailMate 2. I’ve already fallen in love with the current version of MailMate, especially with its fast search, OmniFocus and Markdown integration, and — surprisingly enough — its sparse UI, and will be excitedly looking forward to seeing v2.0 get released. It’s a great power user email app, one we sincerely hope stays in active development for a long time to come.
And yet, MailMate isn’t for everyone. It only supports IMAP, has a rather dated interface that’s reminiscent of Mail.app of old, and doesn’t include any fancy features like Dropbox uploads or a slick new redesign of how email should work. But if you love traditional email and want to speed up your workflow the geeky way, it’s an email app you’ll love — and one you’ll want to support. Go download its trial and try it out, and if it lines up with your vision for the future of email, go back MailMate 2.0. You can get a license for the current version cheaper just by backing the next version, and ensure that MailMate will live on — hopefully for far longer than just one more year.
Tip: If you’d like more thoughts on why MailMate is worth its price now, and worth sponsoring the next version, check out Gabe Weatherhead’s MailMate Explorations article at Macdrifter about the best power-user features that are unique to MailMate and make it such a useful email app.