Yes, the scourge of the internet is email. Specifically the volume of email, which is related to spam email. Too much email means lowered productivity and efficiency, whether at work or personal. My Mac runs Apple’s own Mail app which attempts to appeal to all comers. Thankfully, there is a built-in Junk Mail filter and Mail works with the highly touted and effective SpamSieve to segregate spam from standard email.
Are there alternatives? Yes. And I’ve tried them all. The two that make the grade are Airmail and Spark. The former has a price tag, the latter is free, and both are cross platform and run on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. That’s the good news. Spark still needs SpamSieve to run on a Mac to capture spam.
If that’s a non-issue for you, there are more options for iPhone than for Mac. Criteria for email apps have changed through the years. POP is out, IMAP is in. A so-called Smart Inbox and a few gestures make it easier to chew through a crowded inbox, and a filter for VIPs helps, too. I like an email app that schedules messages to be sent at a certain time.
Two important aspects of using an IMAP email app is the option to file messages into folders on the email server (vs. storing emails on each device). Mail does that on the Mac, but not easily on iPhone or iPad. Airmail and Spark handle that with ease, though Airmail has more customizations and features.
One of the more promising applications for iPhone and iPad is called Email – Edison Mail. It’s free and looks and feels much like Spark. It handles IMAP email and allows browsing of server email folders. Almost 50,000 reviewers on the App Store give it four and five star reviews. Edison has built-in smart notifications, bulk delete options, multiple account views, snooze, Touch ID and Face ID, and works in both HTML rich text and plain text.
Unfortunately, there is no corresponding Mac app.
At the other end of the scale is Microsoft’s own Outlook email app which is free on iPhone and iPad but not on the Mac. It has a smart inbox, gestures, and options to save attachments for various cloud services. And, it works with Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 but you can use it for iCloud email, Gmail, and Yahoo! mail, too. Much to like but not free on the Mac.
That brings me back to Spark which is free on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and may have the best of the Watch email apps. Airmail for macOS and iOS has far more features and customization options so if you’re particular about the details, it’s a good option but comes with the ever present price tag. Remember, many options also means a few crashes here and there, but Airmail syncs accounts between devices which even Apple’s own Mail app does not do. Spark also syncs between devices but the feature set is more basic. The benefit is far few crashes and problems, which when it comes to the frustration of just using email in the first place, is welcome.
For those Mac, iPhone, and iPad users who get plenty of spam and need to filter it before it reaches the inbox, options are fewer but include the Mac’s Mail app and Junk Mail filter or SpamSieve which also works with Airmail and Outlook.
The closest we can get to a free email app that spans Mac to iPhone to iPad to Watch is Spark. The one with the most features and on all platforms is Airmail.