Recently we have published an article called 3 Alternatives to Apple Mail where I wrote that as of today AirMail is the best replacement for Mail. However, only after I published that article I thought that it would be great to describe the functionality of AirMail in more details and prepare a separate review.
In reality, coming back to the topic of alternative to Apple Mail, there are only a few decent mail clients for Mac. Project Sparrow was closed several years ago, Mozilla Thunderbird follows some weird trajectory and is better for Linux users, not Mac. And there are no more decent competitors. All we are left with is only AirMail which presently is the closest competitor of Apple Mail and in this review I will try to describe it in as much details as I can.
Servers and Accounts
AirMail supports popular Google and iCloud, as well as Microsoft Exchange which sets it apart from its competition.
On top of standard options account settings allow to set up the icon, individual settings of message editor and, what’s really important as far as functionality is concerned, personal SMTP server settings for aliases. Mail does not allow to set up the use of aliases this way, nor has it custom settings for editor. Here you can set up signature for your account and separately for aliases.
AirMail allows to save account settings in iCloud and use them on another Mac or iOs device.
Starting from OS X Yosemite you can attach files up to 5 GB in Mail using Mail Drop. Files are copied to iCloud server and are available for 30 days there while email contains only the link.
AirMail also works with Mail Drop but sending large files is no limited to this service only. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, Droplr, CloudApp and even FTP server. For that you need to set up cloud storage account and press on a relevant icon in the letter following which your file will be copied into the cloud storage and letter will contain the link. You don’t have to set up some extra shared access permissions and file will be kept until you delete it.
In addition, you can connect LDAP server or Open Directory to use address books, and Wunderlist and Todoist to send notes.
List of emails
List of folders and accounts can be disabled.
If you want to save some space on your screen you can also disable email preview.
You can reply right from the viewing pane.
List of emails contains several filters: by date, attachments, sender and email status. Filter buttons are located at the top of the window and change their color into blue after pressing.
Search in emails in AirMail is as powerful as in Mail. Mail immediately shows results when you enter the text: in topic, type of attached files, sender, date, etc.
Integration with OS
Spotlight search aside, AirMail integrates into the shell of OS X as good as built-in Mail. With “Share” menu you can send files or text using Composer or write an email in similar to Mail way.
In addition, integration is also present in the app’s context menu.
Notifications in AirMail were implemented quite interestingly. You can select an action connected to the button. But, unfortunately, only “Reply” works, in all other cases there is no button at all.
From the support page you can download several plugins for AirMail. So far the number is not too big but two of them I would call important. Both are related to correspondence encryption: S/MIME and GPG – PGP Plugin. To work with S/MIME you need a certificate in the system keychain, and for GPG – GPG Suite utility.
In case with S/MIME I only managed to decipher messages while for some reason AirMail did not allow me to sign and encrypt.
In a nutshell: AirMail is still incomplete. So if you are prepared to disregard small shortcomings you will get satisfaction from using AirMail as it contains many original and useful ideas. However, if you, like many other Mac users, value original software and maximal integration with OS X (here I mean Spotlight search) then AirMail may not be good fit for you.