I have never been a huge fan of browser based email systems, preferring instead to use a third party email client. It’s a personal thing. Starting on the Internet in the early 1990s the only real web based email system was Hotmail which I avoided like the plague because of the dreadful spam issues associated with it. I unwittingly fell over a benefit of using email clients some years back when Gmail was having major outages in that people could not access their email via a browser but my email client worked perfectly. Like my quest for the perfect task manager which has ended with Todoist I have been on a parallel quest for the perfect email client and I think I might just be there with Mailbird.
Past Email Clients
Other email clients that have been part of my journey include Eudora, Becky, Outlook Express, The Bat! (I always felt I had to have a degree in computer science to use it),Pocomail, Thunderbird (development has halted here) and its commercial offshoot Postbox. I first fell across Mailbird some time ago but back then it only worked with Gmail which was no good for my four IMAP based email accounts. Thankfully that has all changed with the free version offering up to three email accounts and unlimited in the two paid for versions.
Mailbird is a good looking, minimalist interface email client with essentially two panes for the email list on the left and the main viewing pane on the right. If you like yours top and bottom then Mailbird is not for you. A lot of work has been done on “hidden” power tools such as the action bar which appears when you mouse over the email avatar and allows you to carry out a number of tasks such as forward, delete, tag, star, etc.
The main navigation bar on the left can be opened up to show all email accounts and their folder structure or minimised so just the basic tools can be viewed. Oner of the negatives of Mailbird, and there aren’t that many, is that you cannot drag and drop emails into folders. You have to right click the email and then chose from move or copy that email to a list of your folders.
I cannot believe that drag and drop is that difficult to implement and I am hoping that this will be built in to version two of Mailbird which is due to take off in the first quarter of 2015. I would also like to see the capability of being able to icnoise my accounts with graphics relevant to me rather than the limited current choice.
Although a lot of work seems to have been done on the contact manager, some additions would make it just perfect. Mailbird picks up some of the Facebook account photographs but not others. Nor does the manager allow you to add your own photographs to contact details, but again I hope that is coming in V2.
Interconnectedness Of All Things
Douglas Adams, the late lamented author wrote about the interconnectedness of all things and as with many other evolving web services, this is where Mailbird scores Big Time, over Postbox which has been my choice of late.
Mailbird allows you to quickly access a number of services such as Google Drive, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Evernote by turning on access to the services of your choice. Just give me access to Todoist and I could be in web heaven!
Mailbird Payment Options
Unsurprisingly Mailbird has gone down the freemium route. The free version pretty much gives you access to all the goodness of the complete service but you are limited to three email accounts. I have just paid under £5 (yes, you did read that correctly – under £5) for 12 months and I get an ad free interface, speed reading, attachment quick preview and will qualify for something called Wingman which is in development and is rumoured to be coming with V2. You can also pay a once in a lifetime subscription of $45.
Mailbird isn’t perfect – yet. One of the aspects of customer service that Mailbird embraces is a very close interaction with its users via a suggestion package which can be accessed via the web or from within the email client itself which enables you to say what you would like to see. So, if you want to see the ability to add attachments in the quick reply module you can do so easily and get feedback from the development team. Bear in mind it is worth Mailbird being seen to incorporate users’ wishes because by doing so they almost guarantee a user going from the annual to the lifetime subscription.
I rarely get excited by a service and pay up almost immediately but I have done with Mailbird and enjoyed ratching through YouTube tutorials to discover shortcuts and enhancements that are not immediately noticeable.