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Popular iOS mail app Mail Pilot, which we reviewed last year, is now available for OS X in the Mac App Store ($19.99). Like the mobile version of the app, Mail Pilot for Mac is very useful for managing important email like a to-do list.
Mail Pilot’s task-oriented approach allows users to attach reminders or set aside selected messages for later review. These management features make it distinctive from Apple’s own Mail and other desktop mail clients.
Managing Mail & Reminders
The basic interface consists of three columns: mail accounts and folders on the left, a list of messages in the middle and the larger right column for reading and responding to individual messages. These columns are adjustable, and the left source column can be tucked away completely.
As you might expect, Mail Pilot is compatible with IMAP email accounts, including Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo!, AOL, and Outlook. Mail Pilot says all your messages, account details, and personal data syncs between your mail clients and devices, and are never stored, processed, or transmitted through third-party servers.
Mail Pilot supports push notifications for incoming messages, and these sync automatically between your Mac and iOS devices. Mail Pilot for the Mac is similar enough to the iOS version that you won’t feel confused when switching between the two platforms.
Like most mail clients, Mail Pilot enables users to view emails from one or more mail accounts, as well as batch or selectively archive and delete messages. But where Mail Pilot differentiates itself from other mail clients is how it allows users to filter messages for later review.
A reminder can be attached to a selected message, which means Mail Pilot will display the message again in your Inbox based on the assigned date you you attached to it.
Messages can also be set aside indefinitely or added to a custom list, similar to how it’s done in Gmail. Managing messages can be done using an assigned shortcut (e.g., S for Set Aside, R for Remind), right-clicking on a message, or clicking on the appropriate button at the bottom of messages window.
Mail Pilot also presents the custom folders in your mail server so that messages can be dragged and dropped into them.
Reading, Replying & Customization
While Mail Pilot hides away messages to be reviewed later, it also provides four folders in its toolbar for viewing all the messages in your inbox, current day reminders, set aside messages, and upcoming messages assigned a later date.
I use the handy finger gesture application, BetterTouchTool to quickly complete, archive, and delete messages so I can keep my hand on the trackpad as I read and manage messages. It would be useful for Mail Pilot to include a folder for viewing messages due for the current day only, so as not to be distracted by read and unread messages from previous days.
Composing new messages in Mail Pilot is pretty standard. The composition box, a separate pop-up window, does include a nice set of text formatting tools and buttons for adding formatted lists, URL links, and attachments.
Messages on the other hand are replied to inline which is okay for quick responses, but it would be useful to have the option to reply to messages in a detached window so you can quickly review the original message while composing.
Mail Pilot provides several ways to customize how you want to the application to behave, from making it your default mail client, to disabling hot linked images in messages. For example, you might want to enable the unread indicator so you can quickly see which messages have not been read in your Inbox.
Unfortunately, Mail Pilot only allows for single default signature for each account, unlike Apple’s Mail which allows for multiple signatures.
Great Reminders Application
Not only is Mail Pilot a joy to use, its reminders feature makes it a worthy alternative to Apple’s Mail, or as separate mail client for a work-related mail account. The two major features available in Mail that are not present in Mail Pilot are VIP folders and smart mailboxes.
The developers of Mail Pilot have been publicly testing the OS X version of their application for quite some time, and so far it seems very solid. Let us know about your experiences with Mail Pilot and what features you would like to see added.