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The release of OS X Lion a few months ago included the latest version of Apple’s email client, Mail 5.0. The new Mail is a significant update for the built-in app and a welcome facelift for users frustrated by some of the limitations of previous versions.
While the reception has been generally positive, Mail 5.0 has some design and usability issues that users are having trouble adjusting to. Most of the issues arise from using multiple email accounts – switching between accounts requires an app restart, and there have been reports of emails not being received or sent on certain IMAP accounts. Others have criticized the app for the drab look of icons and columns (although this is certainly subjective).
But Mail 5.0 has shortcomings, and some users have had trouble adjusting to the new version, for any number of reasons. Luckily a number of third party alternatives to Mail 5.0 have stepped in to fill the gaps. Here are a few to try if you’re less than satisfied with the new Mail:
One of the most popular third-party email apps, Sparrow is intended for users looking for a simple, no-frills email client. Simplicity is the focus with Sparrow. Emails are organized into Twitter-like conversations that let you reply quickly. Sparrow also supports Facebook Connect to keep up to date on your News Feed.
This app is aimed exclusively at Gmail users. While it lacks support for other email providers, Gmail users may find it useful to have a dedicated window for their inbox, and switching between Gmail accounts is easy.
If you’re a Gmail fan, Mailplane’s worth checking out at just $24.95 in the Mac App Store.
Image via Gizmodo
Developed by Mozilla, Thunderbird is a free open-source email client that has the look and feel of Firefox, also created by Mozilla. Tabbed emails and Smart Folders make Thunderbird familiar to Firefox users, as well as the huge selection of add-ons and extensions that allow you to customize Thunderbird pretty extensively.
Thunderbird is free download it here.
Image via Softpedia
Postbox is great for users who require powerful tools for managing multiple email accounts in one application. In addition to a great UI layout and conversation view, Postbox supports Gmail integration and uses Dropbox to host attachments that are then included as links in the body of an email. Social features also include services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Gravatar.
Postbox is just $19.95 in the Mac App Store.
Image courtesy postbox-inc.com
This is just about as simple as an email client can be. Got Mail is a unobtrusive app that adds an email notification and light email browsing to your menubar.
Got Mail is just $0.99 on the Mac App Store.
These are some of the most popular alternatives to Mail 5.0 in the Mac App Store, each with its pros and cons. People use email in vastly different ways, from simple personal use to managing clients’ accounts. Some email apps are better suited for light use and others for more intensive functions. There are some drawbacks to using third-party apps in general, too. With Apple’s built-in applications, upgrades and support are virtually guaranteed. Not so with other apps – future versions may become obsolete with future iterations of OS X.
All of the paid apps mentioned above can be downloaded for free and used for a trial period, so you can find the one that is best for you.