Even though the initial snafus regarding Apple Mail in OS X Mavericks have been smoothed out, the issues propelled me to start searching for a better mail client for my Mac. After utilizing everything from Gmail's web interface to Postbox, I wanted to see what mail clients were pushing the envelope on the Mac. One of those makes its official debut today.
Mail Pilot from Mindsense approaches email the way you would tackle any sort of to-do list. It's designed to get you to the mythical concept of "inbox zero," where you've managed to wrestle control of your life away from spam and demands. You can use it on its own or with its counterpart iOS app, which hasn't received the most stellar reviews, but more on that later. Like the Getting Things Done method of productivity, Mail Pilot relies on you to take action on items right away. Thanks to the way the email client is laid out, it makes it easy to actually do those actions.
Once you go through the initial setup, your email flows into the mailbox in a stream with empty circles next to the headers. That lets you know you need to take action on something. Keyboard shortcuts make it really easy to move through a workflow. In a few minutes, I can quickly cut through my mailbox and determine which are tasks I need to complete, what emails I want to revisit or what items to archive in a folder. The color palette is clean, but some could find it bland, especially coming in from Airmail. But it works for me. I love the typography.
Mail Pilot supports lists and folders. The lists are great for a short-term project, such as the Toy Fair coverage shown in the screencap. Folders are for keeping long-term material. If there's email you want to come back to, you can toss a reminder on it or set it aside, which has its own tab. I like how all the keyboard shortcuts are clearly laid out, so you don't have to hunt up a list. Most of Once you've cleared your mailbox, you're rewarded with a little pat on the back. Well done!
And that's the amazing thing about Mail Pilot. I'm used to letting emails pile up. I'll lie to myself, saying I'll get back to them later or I just want them in my inbox for easy reference or I'll answer an email and never delete it. They pile up like Cheerios beneath a sofa. The ease of the keyboard shortcuts and the way the program is laid out encourages you to actually keep organized. For the first time in recent memory, I had an empty inbox. A couple days later, I was caught off-guard when the reminders kicked in and let me know I actually had stuff to do. And, I did them.
But, what about the iOS app? It came first and has been criticized for being buggy with a number of problems. Milas said those issues will be resolved in version 2 of the iOS app, which is being rebuilt based off the new Mac client.
"Rather than port a bunch of code from the iOS app to the Mac app, we build the Mac app from scratch with a focus on stability, efficiency, speed and compatibility," said Josh Milas, Mindsense's co-founder. "Both the back-end and the front-end of the application were written from the ground up. We're currently working on a completely new version for iOS (what we're calling 2.0) that's being built on the new back-end from Mac with a completely new front-end."
Milas said there is no estimated timeline for the next iOS version, but it will be Mindsense's focus after the Mac app launch.
Mail Pilot is on sale at an introductory price of US$9.99 through the Mac App Store as of today. You can take a video tour of the client below or download the public preview through the Mail Pilot site.