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Airmail to Polymail to Spark in a Day

April 20, 2017

I love email. I love email to the point that I've actually had much experience through the years running fully-featured mail servers - though I quickly found that's not for me.

The problem is I also love email clients. You'll never see me settle for any browser based email client because I look for good performance-based experiences.

In the past, I've used everything from Thunderbird to Outlook to Postbox, and they really keep up with awesome shortcuts and lightning fast sync times - well Outlook doesn't always, thanks Microsoft. But something has always been lacking in their user design and experience. So I am always on the lookout for the new and best client.

This brings me to yesterday. For a while now, I've been using Airmail with a good bit of success. Their ability to customize the views, shortcuts and support for HTML signatures on iOS are all reasons I've been sticking with them.

But yesterday I hit my breaking point. See, over time I've noticed some major performance issues. Every time I deleted an email or moved it to another folder, there would be a split second delay, the kind of delay that is enough to remotely annoy you. However if you're in an email-cleaning mode, it'll make you want to throw your computer out the window.

And in addition, their syncing between devices (iOS and macOS) has been a bit slow and clogged to say the least. I've seen myself cleaning the cache on my iPhone plenty of times to make sure I'm seeing the correct emails in any given folder.

So yesterday I decided I'd give my email-client search another shot. On the hunt, I noticed a few awesome ones I'll keep my eyes on for a while, like SuperHuman and Newton. After searching for a while, I decided to give Polymail a go. I have a few friends that use and love it and it has all the features I need:

  • HTML signatures with support on iOS,
  • Settings sync between devices,
  • Auto BCC for CRM's,
  • Snooze emails with reminders,
  • And the list goes on.

Within a few minutes, I had it downloaded and my email configured. I knew it would take a few minutes to sync up by Inbox and then I could get rolling with it. But about 30 minutes later, a notification popped up that everything was synced.

(Now I'll let you know that I'm an email hoarder, I mean to the point I still have the very email I ever professionally sent. Call me crazy, but I have my reasons.) I found that due to the number of emails and folders/labels I had, Polymail just couldn't quite keep up and would continually lock up. Apart from the bad performance issues, I will say their UI and overall design is beautiful and well thought out though.

So I was on the hunt again and quickly stumbled on Spark. After looking at the free features like custom notifications, tons of customization and user-specific keyboard shortcuts, I had to give it a try. I am a sucker for good design and even from the initial install screen, I knew I would love it.

After inputting my account information, I can not put into words how amazing it was that the moment I pressed the Setup button, my email and folders were just there! No initial sync time, no waiting, just working! (If you want to get technical, they know how to properly queue up message headers and cache everything in the background).

For power users, I love the fact you can customize your special folders, setup favorites and even tie in your cloud files in the iOS app - which download the files directly as attachments. But by far, the best feature is the search. I have been looking for a solid search for a long while and have finally found it. Speak to it like a human, have it find certain file-types, search in specific folders... all in one easy to use place.

Needless to say, I have been beyond impressed... to the point I am writing a whole blog post about it! (Yes, you can call me a nerd)

I have used it now for a solid 24 hours and have nothing bad to say of it yet. Performance has kept up, I have snoozed emails, processed around 100 emails and Spark keeps up! So I can finally say, I found an email client I hope to be sticking with... for a while ;)