If you've been using the Mailbox app for iOS or Android, then you've likely been waiting on its desktop counterpart to arrive. For OS X users, the wait is over. Mailbox for Mac has landed.
The public beta was announced yesterday, and I was lucky enough to receive an early "beta coin" for access. Let me start by saying, wow, this has already changed the way I use email.
When Mailbox first arrived for mobile, there was a lot of hype. People dashed to join the queue with hopes to get access quickly. Some waited days, others weeks and even months. Mailbox reported that the waiting period was necessary to scale the service gracefully, which was probably a smart move.
The wait was long, but worth it. I remember when my time came. Mailbox loaded up my email accounts and everything was just so simple and intuitive. For me, it was the first mobile email client that was worth moving away from Mail.app.
Now, Mailbox has done it again. I've been an avid Sparrow user since its early days, but given their acquisition by Google and the fact that development has ceased, I've been casually looking for a suitable alternative. Even though it's in beta, the desktop version of Mailbox is just that.
A different type of inbox
Like many people, I use my inbox as a to do list, so the ability to snooze emails is incredibly useful. Mailbox has a way of encouraging you to get to Inbox Zero, which doesn't necessarily mean everything is complete—it just means that everything is organized and out of your way.
For example, you can hit snooze on any message. It will be instantly removed from your inbox and put back when the right time comes, be it later today, this evening, tomorrow, or next week. Here's a glimpse of the snooze menu in OS X:
But snoozing doesn't mean you're putting things off. It just means that you're scheduling them for a more suitable time.
You may have noticed the Mobile option that's available. If you have the mobile and desktop apps installed, you can snooze messages so they'll only show up on certain devices. For example, you can send a shopping list to your phone so it won't be on your desktop while you're at work, but it will be in your inbox when you get to the store. Or you can get that work-related email off your phone and onto your desktop so you'll see it as soon as you get back to the office.
Inbox Zero isn't usually possible with traditional email solutions, unless of course you tend to move things into folders (which, let's be honest, is basically the same thing as snoozing except you have to think about where to put things and hope you remember where to find them later). With Mailbox, you can temporarily dismiss messages without having to worry about where they go. What's in your inbox is priority one and anything else is out of sight.
As a special treat, Mailbox will show you a different photo every day as a reward for reaching Inbox Zero. Now there's a little incentive to use email more like a to do list.
Swipe to do everything
On the phone, you can swipe right just a little to archive a message, or swipe right a little further to delete it. Similarly, swiping to the left snoozes a message, and further to the left moves it to a list.
Even though Mac's aren't touch-friendly, the desktop app works the same way. You can drag a message to the left or right with your mouse for the exact same options, or you can use the menu at the top. Mailbox's interface is minimalistic but intuitive—a flat, refreshing UI that isn't difficult to figure out at all. You really can get to Inbox Zero in no time.
Lists make life easy
Mailbox doesn't have folders, which some people don't seem to like. The funny thing is that neither does Gmail, although you can tag things which is arguably the same thing.
Instead, you can move messages to lists. The default lists that come with Mailbox are To Read, To Watch, and To Buy, which gives you an indication of how to use them. Of course, you can customize lists to better suit your needs.
A use case for these: when I stumble across something amazing that I want to blog about later, I send myself an email and put it in my For the blog list. When I'm ready to write a blog post, I simply look through that list for ideas.
So it's a bit like having folders, but not quite the same. I'm not exactly sure, but I think simply calling them "lists" makes you use them differently than folders. That and they tend to stay more organized.
A few beta quirks
Of course, with beta software comes beta quirks. I haven't noticed any showstoppers, but I have seen some minor rendering issues (incorrect height for an image-based email), an issue with newlines being stripped from signatures when replying inline, and similar anomalies.
However, nothing I've found so far has stopped me from trying it out. In fact, my old email client has been closed all morning and I'm already at Inbox Zero!
Get your inbox to zero, too!
If you're a Mac user looking for a great new email client, I'd highly recommend checking out the Mailbox OS X app. It's a great tool, especially when combined with the mobile version.
As of today, you'll need to request a beta coin from their website to activate the app. It's hard to say exactly how long it will be before you get one, but if you're in a rush I'd recommend searching Twitter for #betacoin. I've seen many of them being offered up for free today.
Do you have any tips for making Mailbox even more efficient? Have you noticed any bugs in the beta version? Let's hear 'em in the comments!