Back in July, Eightloops finally released and started taking sign-ups for the beta version of its email client, Unibox. Though the developers are still working out the bugs, I have found Unibox to be mostly stable, clean, and above all different type of experience when it comes to reading and managing emails.
The number of email clients for both iOS and Mac platforms are about to explode, and personally I welcome the choices. Over the last year, the release of iOS mail clients like Mailbox, Triage, Mail Pilot, and Cloze have made checking email less of a chore and easier to manage. Any one of these apps, except maybe Triage (which is still my favorite) can effectively replace Apple’s default iOS Mail client without a problem.
The same change is starting to happen with the OS X version of Mail. Despite the new features added in Mavericks, Mail pretty much looks and feels the same. But now third-party mail clients like Airmail, Unibox, and the soon to be released desktop version of Mail Pilot, are going to make Apple’s Mail seem outdated for many users. Let’s check out what Unibox has to offer.
The first thing you notice about Unibox is that it doesn’t feel like a crowded mailbox of messages. Its two column design sorts emails by days of the week, with a left-column view listing the names of senders and their profile photos, if available.
Unibox groups all incoming mail by sender so you don’t have to hunt for previous or related emails. Messages appear in the wider right column where you can easily scroll between them. This presentation takes a minimalist approach with each individual message designed almost like a postcard. You can click on the “three dots” icon to reveal the quoted text from the original message, and the More icon for content in longer messages.
The menu bar of Unibox is not crowded with buttons and features. In addition to the Messages view, you can also select to view messages in a traditional list form, and there’s a preview view for messages that include attachments. I find it easier, however, to use the Quick View feature for attachments in emails, which can be done by simply selecting the attachment and pressing down on your space bar.
Managing and Sending Emails
In addition to the Inbox, you can also filter messages by Sent and mark and send messages to the Archive, Spam or Trash folders. I use the handy BetterTouchTool to archive and trash messages with a single click on my trackpad; otherwise, it’s a two-step process each time you want to archive and or delete a message. There are also keyboard shortcuts for moving between messages.
When you add a new email account to Unibox, it will attempt to auto-detect your mail server settings to see what folders and Gmail labels you’re already using. You can click on the folder icon at the bottom of a message to send it to an appropriate folder.
In the Preferences panel, you can also create folders for where you want to save emails outside of the Inbox and Archive folder.
As for sending or replying to emails, Unibox makes the process feel less arduous. I like how the new and reply messages drop down at the top of the Messages column, instead of popping up in a separate window, which sometimes gets in the way of the original message.
In a new message, you can also drop and add attachments, and change the email account you want to use for sending the message. For new messages, the Subject field is set at the top of the drop-down window, which is a bit different and quite neat.
As you might expect, Unibox can handle Gmail, iCloud, Exchange, Yahoo! Mail and Self-hosted IMAP accounts. In the application’s preferences you can select to hide the avatars in the contact list, create signatures for individual mail accounts, log mail traffic, and enable or disable mailing groups.
Personally, I’m very impressed with Unibox, and I prefer using it over Apple’s Mail. Though Unibox doesn’t have Mail’s smart mailbox feature or VIP filtering, I feel as though I get through mail a lot quicker in Unibox. It just feels less cluttered.
Unibox requires Mac OS X 10.8 or higher. You can’t buy the product just yet, but Eightloops is still taking (free) requests for the beta version, so head over now and get in line.
What do you think of Unibox? Have you managed to get an invite? What is your favourite OS X email client? Have your say, below.