Sparrow – A New Gmail Desktop Client for Mac Users

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gmail for macSparrow is a lightweight email client for Mac users with a twist – it only works with Gmail and Google Apps accounts. Sparrow is ideal for Gmail fans as well as for people who don’t want to mess with POP or IMAP settings as everything is done automatically for you. Simply put in your email address and password, and you’ll be up and running straight away.

Sparrow has a variety of features including multiple account support, rich text composition, and more, that could very easily have you abandoning Gmail in your browser for this stand alone client.


Launching Sparrow for the first time, you will be prompted to enter your name as you want it to appear on your emails, your address and your password. You can also choose to make Sparrow your default email client or subscribe to their newsletter.

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Sparrow is automatically set to access your Gmail account using IMAP settings, and there is no way to change that.

Sparrow’s interface has a clean minimalist feel that is perfectly suited to the Mac OS. If you’re willing to part with any Gmail addons or lab features you use, you will appreciate Sparrow’s simplicity. Its sidebar has 5 buttons from which you can access your inbox, starred items, sent items, drafts and trash.

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The top of the screen features 4 buttons which allow you to compose a new message, reply to the selected message, archive it or delete it.

gmail and mac

Double clicking on any given message will open it in a second window.

gmail and mac

Alternatively, you can click the drawer button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and the message will slide out next to the list of messages.

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One of Gmail’s features that Sparrow has incorporated very successfully is threaded conversations. Any conversations that contain several emails will feature the number of messages. Once you open the thread, the most recent email will be featured at the top, and you can expand and collapse the rest of the messages.

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Adding additional accounts is done through Sparrow’s preferences.

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The process is exactly the same, with the addition of being able to add a signature. If you would like to add a signature to your primary account, it can also be done through the preferences.

Each account is accompanied by a buddy picture, making it easy to identify your accounts in your sidebar, and switch between them. Changing your buddy account is done through the preferences. You can choose any image file saved on your computer, or take a new picture using your webcam.

When composing a new message, you can choose which account to send the email from using a dropdown menu at the top of the screen.

Sparrow uses Growl notifications to let you know when you’ve received a new message, accompanied by a sound. Both of these can be disabled depending on your preferences.

Sparrow places a small icon in the menu bar, highlighted in blue when you have new messages, displaying the number of new messages next to the icon. However, the icon does not feature any options such as checking for new messages, but rather gives you a quick way to pull Sparrow up if the window is hidden.

gmail for mac

If you want to force Sparrow to check for new messages, click the refresh button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Sparrow’s strength is in its simplicity, and for those of you who want a fast and easy way to send and receive emails from your Gmail account, the free app will definitely appeal to you. Twitter users who have become accustomed to the interface that apps like Echofon and Tweetie offer will feel right at home using Sparrow.

Are you willing to abandon all the extra bells and whistles in Gmail to use Sparrow? Let us know in the comments.

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