Finding the best email client for Mac is more than just platform compatibility.
Technically, Microsoft Outlook has a Mac email client, but if you're reading this blog post from an Apple device and don't have an obligation from your employer to use it, that's probably not what you're looking for…
So what makes an email client especially well suited for the Mac? The same qualities that distinguish Macs from other computer systems. Most Apple users purchase their equipment for a few distinct reasons:
- Ease of use
This is opposed to a feature like customization, which is a huge draw for PC enthusiasts. PC users are accustomed to having the ability to edit every detail of their machine to their workflows and individual preferences. Mac users generally are willing to accept that Apple has put enough effort and expertise into the design to not require them to customize every little detail.
That said, it makes sense to use the same criteria that most people use to compare computers (Mac vs. PC) to compare email clients. After all, if you're a Mac user you're likely going to want your email client to operate in a similar manner as your operating system, right?
How we evaluate Mac email clients
Does your email client help you get your email tasks done more effectively and efficiently? Let's examine the different attributes that contribute to being productive in your inbox.
The average person spends three hours per day in their inbox; does your email client provide a pleasant environment in which to operate? Your office environment (including your screen) plays a significant role in measurable productivity.
Are your private emails being stored without satisfactory security precautions or used for targeted advertising? They shouldn't be!
Does your email client also work on the web or on the go? Can it integrate with other systems like calendars and web conferencing platforms? Email clients should work with your other systems, not against them.
Ease of use
Does your email client provide features that make email management better for you while also remaining accessible? An effective email client needs to strike a balance between customization and ease of use.
When you find an email client that can deliver on all of the above, you have a great opportunity to reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox.
As Abraham Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax."
No matter how many new messaging apps enter your workflow, email will likely always be a part of your professional life. Using the proper email client for your needs can decrease time spent on email while increasing the results you get from using email.
An email client specifically designed for the Mac is a great tool to have in your toolbox. But first, let's clarify one important thing.
What is a Mac email client?
Simply put, a Mac email client is an application that runs natively from your Mac. This is slightly different than a webmail client, which needs a browser application to run from.
An example of a Mac email client is Mail, which comes pre-installed on every Mac device.
An example of a webmail client is Gmail, which you must access from a browser such as Safari or Chrome. Often, a desktop email client will also have a companion webmail option, as in the case with Superhuman.
Additionally, it's important to note that we're focusing on desktop email clients in this post, not email mobile apps. The ability for your email client to extend into your phone can be important, however, so we've made a few mobile-specific notes in the post.
Email clients are used for handling professional (or personal) email, not send out high-volume marketing emails or newsletters.
Additionally, email clients are not email servers. Email servers are used to send and receive email, while email clients are used to read and manage email.
Depending on which email client you choose, you can enjoy several distinct benefits over their webmail counterparts:
Speed. Desktop email clients are capable of faster speeds than webmail interfaces because the IMAP protocol is designed to be efficient — only transmitting the minimal data required to perform the task of processing email.
Increased organization. Arguably the biggest draw to email clients is the ability to filter, sort, flag, and file your email correspondence in a manner that suits you best. This functionality is typically more robust in desktop clients as opposed to webmail.
Ability to work offline. The ability to access email while not connected to the Internet is unique to email clients and is not possible with webmail, because well, you need to be on the web. Offline mode can be especially valuable for business travelers working on flights or without access to wifi.
Manage multiple accounts. Let's say you have a Gmail and a Yahoo account, some email clients allow you to manage them both from the same interface, as opposed to switching back and forth between two websites.
Back up your emails. A desktop email client stores your data locally, so if your email provider suddenly goes offline (however unlikely that may be!) you'll still have records of your email correspondence.
Customizable interface. Beyond the size or spacing of the type, email clients are designed to be set up for custom workflows depending on your use case.
Now that we have a solid base of knowledge on email clients, let's get to the list!
Note: We're intentionally leaving out Apple Mail because you've likely already tried that and aren't interested. The native Mac email client is satisfactory for some users, but for professionals looking for a tool to help them with a fast-paced inbox, a high volume of email, or delegation responsibilities, Apple Mail is a blunt instrument and you're likely looking for more.
The tool built for Inbox Zero
For individuals (and teams) looking to unlock productivity in every process, system, and tool they use, there is no better email client than Superhuman. This product is fueled by the Inbox Zero philosophy and you can see it baked into every feature, from Split Inbox to Snippets (expandable text for things you write out repeatedly).
Superhuman is the top choice for busy entrepreneurs, executives, and anybody who wants to keep a busy inbox as clean and efficient as possible.
Speed. Superhuman is designed to be blazingly fast. Specifically, this means that every interaction happens in fewer than 100 milliseconds.
The product is fast, but also enables users to be fast through features like advanced keyboard shortcuts. While many email clients have some keyboard shortcuts built in, Superhuman makes the extra effort to make sure that you actually use them with intuitive layout (hash for trash), reminders when you overuse your mouse, and timely email tutorials from the CEO Rahul Vohra.Get started with Superhuman
For open-source enthusiasts
Thunderbird is a free, open-source email client that was originally developed by the Mozilla team. It's easy to plug in your account details (Google, Yahoo, etc.) and get up and running in just a few minutes. Thunderbird can also combine multiple email accounts into a single inbox.
Due to the open-source nature of the client, Thunderbird is popular in the development community. Additionally, it enjoys some support from former Outlook users looking for a free alternative.
Customization. The main draw to Thunderbird (apart from the price) is its ability to be customized. The majority of this customization is done through Add-ons, but because the software is open-source, you could technically customize the email client in whichever way you choose.
For people who are interested in setting up their email inbox to support their own specific workflow, Thunderbird is a great option. This list of commonly used Thunderbird Add-ons can give you some insight into the range of custom actions you can design.
Award-winning design specifically for Apple
Airmail is a fully featured email client that aims to take full advantage of the Mac ecosystem. At a glance you'll notice that the design resembles Apple's own Mail app.
- Free version (limited features)
- $2.99/month or $9.99/year
Ecosystem. Airmail seems to take their product and design cues directly from Apple by building email features that line up nicely with Mac and iOS features. The list includes, but is not limited to:
- Support for Touch Bar, which is a device feature exclusive the the Macbook line of computers
- Integration with Apple Watch
- Automation capabilities with AppleScript
One small gripe of Airmail is that it lacks the "polish" of the native Mac email client. Still, for Apple enthusiasts looking for a desktop email client, Airmail is a worthy option to consider.
4. eM Client
Feature-rich and free for personal use
For those looking for a Mac email client for more casual use (and also free), eM Client is a great alternative. Although the more advanced features do require a paid subscription, there is plenty you can do with the free version of eM Client.
- Free for individuals (limited features and personal use only)
- $49.95 for individuals (commercial use included)
- $188.95 for teams of 10
*Lifetime upgrades available for $70
Lifetime subscription. eM Client offers a pricing option for a one-time payment for lifetime access to its paid version; including future upgrades. And because you can try a limited version for free, this presents an affordable (and somewhat risk-free) way to evaluate the product, integrate into your email workflow, and receive product updates for life at no additional cost.
The free version, however, is limited to only two accounts and is specifically not available for commercial use.
Solid solution specifically for desktops
Postbox is a desktop-only email client with an impressive array of features. If you're considering this option, you'll have to go elsewhere for your mobile needs, but the client does provide a rich experience for your computer.
Postbox touts its commitment to user privacy front and center, and the folks at Superhuman whole-heartedly agree that privacy for your inbox is absolutely essential.
$29 for lifetime access
Full HTML control. Post has a feature called Code View that allows you to control the design of your email down to the pixel. This can be especially useful for users looking to send out email with images, video, and fancy text formatting. The feature is powered through an integration with CodeMirror.net.
How to choose the right Mac email client for you
As you can see from this list, your use case actually has a huge effect on which Mac email client is right for you. You'll want to go through each app's list of features and read some product reviews before you choose.
For those looking to get through their inbox faster, however, Superhuman is an ideal choice for three primary reasons:
- Speed – Superhuman provides the fastest email experience of any product on this list
- Philosophy – Superhuman is built to help you reach Inbox Zero every day
- Training – Superhuman provides personalized onboarding to make sure you're set up to use the tool in a style that suits your email workflow (or help you create one!)
If you're looking to spend half the time you currently do managing your email, give Superhuman a try.Get started with Superhuman