5 Apple Mail Alternatives for Mac OS X
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Every Mac comes with a free email application, appropriately named Mail. Using the native Mail application is fine for most people, especially for those who only use iCloud, but things get trickier when you’re dealing with multiple email accounts.

For Gmail users in particular, more thorough solutions are available, many which are free. Here’s a look at five Mail alternatives and why they might work for you.

AirMail ($10)

Marketed as being a “lighting-fast email client for Mac,” AirMail is also the most beautiful application on the list. Offering Split Screen support for OS X El Capitan, the application looks and feels like it’s an Apple creation. It also features some options not available on the native Mac application, which consistently makes AirMail one of the best overall apps for OS X The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac Looking for the best apps for your MacBook or iMac? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for macOS. Read More .

Chief among this is the ability to compose in Markdown or HTML. As you type on the left, the result is shown on the right side of the screen. Being able to view the formats side-by-side means you can make sure to remove broken links or weird-looking text before sending.


In AirMail, received messages may be organized by task. You can mark each email as To Do, Memo, or Done. The first are for items that require some action or a follow-up. A Memo is for items you need to memorize or store for later, and you can mark completed emails as Done. You can also Snooze messages, allowing you to move them to the side for viewing at a later time or date.

The application offers support for Google, iCloud, Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, AOL, IMAP, and POP. It also works with many third-party integrations, including Dropbox, Google Drive, OmniFocus, Things, and many more.

AirMail is available in the Mac App Store. You can also download a beta version for free from the developer’s website. An AirMail for iPhone app is coming soon.

Mail Pilot 2 ($20)

Like AirMail, Mail Pilot 2 turns mail into a to-do list, allowing you to focus on what’s most important. Unique to Mail Pilot 2 is a relatively new feature called Dash.


With Dash, your daily life is summarized on a dashboard to help you become more productive. It includes the number of messages that you have received in the past 24 hours, plus those that are completed, set aside, due, and late. Dash also summarizes the average time it takes for you to reply to emails and more. Another handy feature provides links to files that you’ve recently sent or received, which is very nice.

The application supports all standard IMAP accounts, including Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, AOL, Rackspace, Outlook.com, and Google Apps. Mail Pilot 2 is available in the Mac App Store. A $9.99 iOS version is available from the App Store.

Do you want to learn more about Mail Pilot? Be sure to take a look at our original review Task-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS X Task-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS X Like the mobile version of the app, Mail Pilot for Mac is very useful for managing important email like a to-do list. Read More .

Postbox ($10)

Postbox is one of the oldest email clients Postbox: An Alternative Email Client For Mac Postbox: An Alternative Email Client For Mac Postbox is an email management application for Windows and Mac powered by the Mozilla platform. Read More on our list, but it’s also a very stable product. Postbox’s goal is to remove some of the chaos associated with mail, by offering robust tools to make the process more efficient.


One of Postbox’s nicest features is the ability to group messages by topic. This allows you to break work into smaller, more manageable chunks. Grouping by subject is particularly useful when you have more than one email account. Postbox also enables you to create Pre-Made Responses, which you can reuse as often as needed.

Postbox works with most email providers including Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud. It also supports POP3, IMAP, and SMTP protocols. It is available from the Postbox website. A 30-day free trial is also available, so you can try before you buy.

CloudMagic (free)

This mail client only recently arrived on OS X after finding success on iOS and Android Task-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS X Task-Oriented Email App Mail Pilot Arrives On Mac OS X Like the mobile version of the app, Mail Pilot for Mac is very useful for managing important email like a to-do list. Read More . Dubbed “simple, beautiful & blazing fast” by its creators, the application features a transparent user interface, free of fancy buttons or slides.

This approach works well, especially if you have to go through a lot of emails each day or have multiple accounts. We especially like the application’s shortcut buttons, which allow you to move quickly to the next or previous email.


CloudMagic offers support for Gmail, Exchange, Google Apps, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, and all IMAP accounts. It’s available in the Mac App Store. CloudMagic for iOS and CloudMagic for Android are also available. Both are free.

Nylas N1 (free)

Two of most popular third-party mail clients in recent years were Sparrow and Mailbox. After each was purchased by Google and Dropbox respectively, both were eventually shutdown, leaving millions of users in the lurch. By contrast, Nylas N1 is open-source and published on GitHub, meaning it will never be bought and axed.


Nylas N1 is the closest thing you’ll see to a next-generation mail program. It features a clean user interface, supports Gmail keyboard shortcuts, and best of all, because it is open-source, has a community to back it up. However, because it’s so new, you may run into some problems, at least in the short-run. For example, N1 doesn’t currently offer a unified inbox and the formatting isn’t quite right.

Why is N1 on our list? Because it’s been designed for easy modification. Best of all, it can run on multiple platforms including OS X, Windows, and Linux. Better still — it’s free. N1 is compatible with many providers, including Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, and more. Currently, there is no N1 app for iOS.

You’ve Got Mail Options

If you’re happy with Apple’s default email client, keep it. For those looking for different ways to organize your mail or rather use something that plays nicer with Gmail, consider one of our alternatives. The most feature-rich solutions on the list are AirMail and Mail Pilot 2. The ones most likely to push mail into new areas in the next year are CloudMagic and Nylas N1. Looking for a reliable, stable solution? Consider Postmate.

Are you looking for more ways to customize your email experience on a Mac? Check out these hidden El Capitan features you probably don’t know about 11 Hidden OS X El Capitan Features You Might Not Know About 11 Hidden OS X El Capitan Features You Might Not Know About Think you've found all the new features in El Capitan? Think again! There is a bounty of handy features that haven't gotten a lot of press. Read More , or take your email writing to the next level with these tools 5 Tools That Can Help You Write Better Emails 5 Tools That Can Help You Write Better Emails Everyone is still trying to solve the email problem. So, let's also talk about the most basic habit of all – the art of writing better emails. With the help of some cool tools. Read More .

Which email client for Mac do you use? Let us know in the comments below. 

Explore more about: Apple Mail, Desktop Email Client, OS X El Capitan.

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  1. Stefan
    January 20, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Hi! The article's great, although I think you should have put free email clients first.

    I would also like to suggest Hiri (www.hiri.com), an email client that helps you master the art of email. It's an innovation like no other client, and as a standalone app for Windows, OS X, and Linux, Hiri works perfectly!

    It's also free for personal use!

  2. blabla
    July 18, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Nylas N1 is not free anymore despite marketing shit they spread

  3. busboywithasilencer
    July 8, 2016 at 12:33 am

    CloudMagic costs $19.99 to download. What do you people think "free" means?

    The answer is not "approximately twenty dollars," despite what you may have heard.

  4. Jessica
    July 3, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I really like Spark but for the love of god I wish they would go ahead and release a mac version already!!! Their iPhone and iPad version is good but I'm struggling to find an email client for the mac until further notice....

    • Pamela
      January 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Jessica, I hope you may have found out that there is now a Mac version for Spark. It only supports IMAP though. I'm using Spark for iCloud since Apple Mail has become a complete hot mess on the computer (still works on iOS) and Apple Mail for my POP email accounts.

  5. Rob Manzoni
    May 27, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Does Pegasus Mail work on a Mac?

  6. Tony
    April 12, 2016 at 12:14 am

    I might be wrong about this but CloudMagic keeps your user credentials in the cloud on their servers.

    Can anyone confirm this either way please?

    • Marko
      August 7, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Yes they do.

  7. T. Hill
    March 1, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Airmail is a disaster as of March 2016. Unstable and unfit for purpose.

    • Jai
      March 28, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Whats wrong with Airmail as of March 2016?

    • emme
      April 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      I agree. It seems to be more and more unstable. I had really high hopes for AirMail, but I'm out!

    • Ney
      May 21, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Airmail works perfectly fine. Still the best OSX email client. I wonder what issues you had with it.

      • Tiago
        November 30, 2016 at 7:52 pm

        The search is awful... and doesn´t have an undo send option.

  8. Igor
    February 9, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    No MailMate mentioned? Really?

    • Tony
      April 12, 2016 at 12:15 am

      I second this, it is quite good...

  9. Riyaad
    January 26, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Thunderbird ain't bad but its getting old. Anyone know which other client supports multiple identities (besides Postbox that is)?

  10. Rick
    January 26, 2016 at 5:23 am

    For those using gmail with one of these native apps, what are you finding that missing compared to the gmail website client? I've tried various real clients over the years but gmails's search is awesome as is and haven't really found something lacking from the web client.

  11. Brian
    January 26, 2016 at 3:45 am

    Came to say the same thing as Peter, above. Cloudmagic is twenty dollars!

  12. Vikas
    January 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    What about Mozilla Thunderbird. It's also free and good.

    • Anonymous
      January 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm


    • Ilyes
      January 25, 2016 at 7:39 pm


  13. Rondo
    January 25, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Airmail is absolutely the best OS X mail client out there. I am also beta testing Airmail's iOS app and that is going to beat the pants off everything else.

  14. Anonymous
    January 25, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Cloudmagic is nice, bit it's not free.