I’ve been quite satisfied with Apple Mail for years. It does a good job. It’s free with every Mac. But like all of the applications that I use every day, I’m always wondering if there’s something better out there. I’ve tried many other email clients: Microsoft Entourage, Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, Mailsmith and Powermail. Not to mention web-based Yahoo Mail and Gmail. But in each case, I’ve always returned home to Apple Mail.

Postbox screenshotUntil I found Postbox.

A few weeks ago, I downloading their 30-day free trial. It was easy to configure my primary Gmail IMAP account. Postbox quickly showed all my messages, however, to really take advantage of its super-quick search, I let it download all of my 4,000+ messages so Postbox could index everything. That took about 30 minutes.

Postbox has Mozilla roots — the makers of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird email application. You can see the resemblance, kind of like siblings — but not twins.

What I like about Postbox:

  • The tabbed interface keeps multiple messages, searches, attachments, images within a single window. For example, double-clicking on a message opens in a tab rather than a new window. This keeps window bloat to a minimum.
  • Tagging messages with “Topic” keywords is useful for grouping messages. And there are simple single-key shortcuts. For example, my “Follow up” topic is applied when I hit the “1” key while viewing a message.
  • Searching is very fast and can be specific, looking for to, from, subject, topics — plus after/before date ranges.
  • Although it’s hard to measure, I swear it retrieves incoming mail faster than Mail.
  • I haven’t had outgoing SMTP problems like I occasionally have had with Mail.

What I don’t like:

  • You can’t drop a document on Postbox’s dock icon for attachment to a new message.
  • iPhoto’s email “Share” option still thinks Mail is the application to use for attaching photos to outgoing email messages. I’ve had to switch to a two-step process for emailing iPhoto pictures: first, export the desired photos to a temporary folder; second, drag these photos on a new Postbox message. It’s simple, but it’s still two steps instead of one.

Bottom Line:

I have a constant habit of looking for ways to improve my productivity through upgraded or new applications. Postbox’s developers seem to be more ambitious about adding new features and interface improvements than Apple is with Mail — and I really like what they’ve done so far. Therefore, Postbox is my current choice for email.

Postbox is available for both Windows and Mac from Postbox, Inc. The single-user license price is $39.95.