For a long time I was a staunch user of Eudora — so much so, I spent 5 years writing weekly Tips about how to make the most of the software.
Gmail won the day
Then Gmail came along and I amazed myself by switching to web-based email. Gmail’s ‘conversation’ threading is compelling, as are its storage space, spam filtering, labels and powerful search.
I no longer have to file my emails: they all get dumped into ‘All Mail’ where I can quickly find anything I need.
Search terms such as
has:attachment, combined with free text such as
MacTips allow me to instantly find emails I sent mentioning MacTips that had an attachment, for example.
Another compelling feature of Gmail is that all my mail is stored on Google’s servers, accessible from any Internet-connected device, such as my iPod touch or iPhone.
And, yes, I trust Google to take better care of my store of email messages than I can. I have 25 Gb of space for email, because I pay around US$50 per year for the premium service, Google Apps. That also includes Postini spam and virus filtering, no ads, and other features.
Apple Mail was not for me
Dedicated email clients such as Apple Mail just couldn’t exploit the power of Gmail, so I used whichever web browser was my favourite of the day. I’d keep Gmail in the leftmost browser tab.
Mailplane does it better
A few months ago I came across Mailplane:
You like threaded conversations, googling your inbox, and you prefer labels over folders. You really love Gmail.
If yes: You’ve come to the right place. Continue to use the Gmail web interface you know and love, but from Mailplane instead of your web browser: Mailplane makes you more productive and saves you precious time.
I found what seems to be a dedicated browser for Gmail. It costs US$24.95 and I didn’t really see the point. Still, I took advantage of the free trial and gave it a whirl.
About 5 minutes later I paid for it.
Mailplane’s compelling features
The thing is, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about Mailplane that makes it compelling for me. It just makes Gmail a whole lot smoother and easier.
Mailplane has actual features that help, such as being able to easily switch between Gmail accounts.
Double click the account name in the Accounts Drawer. Mailplane switches to that account and logs in automatically.
Mailplane gives me keystroke access to adding or removing labels from messages.
Command L calls up an
Add and Remove Labels window where I can quickly search and filter labels and apply or remove them with a click.
I’ve been able to set Mailplane as my default mail application, which gets around links in web pages trying to open Mail.app.
I like that Mailplane is a standalone application, and that it’s taken Gmail out of my various web browsers. Since I commonly have 2 or 3 browsers open at any one time, I now don’t have to remember which one had my mail tab.
Mailplane integrates with Growl so I see a Growl alert for new emails that arrive. That’s very handy when I’m busy doing something else — I can ignore most emails, but still know if something urgent comes in.
It also gives me a highly configurable alert sound when new emails arrive.
I have around 5 Gmail accounts, and can see from a click on the menubar icon what unread messages are in the In Box for each account.
I also sometimes set Mailplane to the
Do not disturb state. This is specially useful when I’m recording Mac Tips videos, so I don’t have unwanted Growl alerts or sounds appearing in the video.
Most or all of those features can be configured in the Preferences.
Loads of features
I know Mailplane can do all kinds of other useful things too, but those listed above are enough for me.
If you use a Mac and Gmail, do yourself a favour and try out Mailplane. Add a comment below with your most-used features.