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There aren’t many email apps that work across all Apple devices, with consistent feature parity. There’s Apple’s Mail app of course, but that’s a bit too basic. If you’re all-in on Apple ecosystem, Spark is probably the email app you should be using on all your devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.
Spark is part of a new breed of email apps, ones based on a smart inbox. If you deal with a lot of email, across different accounts, you’ll appreciate how it only notifies you about important emails.
The app is free everywhere, has a lot of smart and useful features, syncs settings between all devices, and is immensely customizable — from the layout to swipes to keyboard shortcuts on the Mac. Here’s why you should be using Spark as your default email client across all Apple devices.
1. Smart Inbox Automatically Categorizes Your Emails
Spark’s Smart Inbox sorts your email into three categories: Personal, Notifications, and Newsletters. They show up as widgets on the app’s home screen and you can expand a section to see all new emails. You can mark an entire section like Notifications as read with just one swipe.
The Personal section is where you’ll find the actually important email — ones from your friends, family, and colleagues.
And of course, you don’t have to use the Smart Inbox all the time. From the sidebar, select Inbox to return to the traditional format.
2. Natural Language Search
In my experience, when it comes to email search, nothing can beat Gmail’s web interface. Spark comes close. With Spark, you can use natural language to search. You can type “email from John with attachments” and it will show you just that.
3. Smart Notifications Fight the Clutter
If you have Smart Notifications enabled, you’ll only get notifications about the important emails (from the Personal section). Plus, you’ll be able to 3D Touch notifications to mark the email as read, delete it or send a Quick Reply right there.
4. Quick Replies Save You Time
At the end of an email, you’ll find the Quick Reply section. You’ll see buttons like Thanks, Like, Smile, Love, and so on. You can tap on More to see all Quick Replies. When you tap on one, Spark will automatically reply to the email with the Quick Reply.
Sometimes we spend too much time writing replies to emails that were entirely unnecessary. The Quick Reply feature takes all the thinking out of it and once you start using it regularly, you’ll come to appreciate just how time-saving and liberating this little feature really is.
5. Pin or Snooze Emails
Mailbox popularized the concept of snoozing an email. And Spark continues the legacy (in many ways Spark is Mailbox’s spiritual successor). The snooze button lets you delay dealing with the email. You have options like Later Today, Next Week, Someday and the ability to pick a date. When you snooze an email, it disappears from your inbox and comes back as an unread email when the time has run out.
Another way to deal with email is to pin important emails. You can do this from swipe gestures or when reading the email. Pinned emails are accessible from the sidebar and can be added to the app’s home screen as a widget.
6. Smart Inbox Is Customizable
Spark lets you customize the inbox experience so you can work just the way you like. In Personalization section in Settings, you’ll find three sections: Sidebar, Swipes, and Widgets.
In the sidebar section, you can add more shortcuts like a smart folder or Recently Seen.
Spark has four customizable swipe gestures for each list item — short and long swipe gestures for both edges of the list.
From the Widgets section, you can add more sections to the home screen. Adding a section for Attachments, for example, can be quite useful.
7. Easily Deal With Multiple Signatures
Spark can recognize when you use different signatures and it will prompt you to save them. You should do that because Spark makes it really easy to switch between all saved signature. You can add more signatures from Settings (it accepts HTML input as well).
When you’re writing an email, you can just swipe between multiple signatures. Another time saver.
8. Spark Integrates With Popular Tools
Spark lets you connect with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Pocket and more. You can easily add attachments that are stored in your Dropbox account and export email content directly to a note in Evernote. All of this without ever leaving the app.
9. Sync Accounts and Settings Using iCloud
Spark will sync your connected accounts, custom settings and signatures using iCloud. This makes it really easy to switch between devices or when it’s time to setup a new device.
The sync is reliable and fast. In my testing, changes with swipe gestures on the iPhone were instantly updated on the Mac as well. The sync engine works reliably for normal email tasks like archiving and pinning emails (much better than Apple Mail app).
10. All the Little Delights
Spark is filled with little thoughtful features:
- Touchbar support on the Mac.
- Color-coding option for multiple accounts.
- Apple Mail and Gmail presets for keyboard shortcuts.
- Beautiful and clear visuals for calendar invites.
Make the Best of the Tools
Spark gives you the tools to deal with email. How you use them depends on your workflow. If you’re an Inbox Zero kind of person, use the swipes to quickly organize your inbox. Pin the important emails so you can come back to them. And remember, snoozed emails always come back!
Currently, Spark is the only free cross-platform app with feature parity. But if you’re looking for something else — something more feature rich — look into Newton or Airmail. Both have clients for Mac and iPhone and they’re filled with powerful features like undo send, email scheduling, action libraries and so on.
What email apps do you use on your iPhone and Mac? What does your email workflow look like? Share with us in the comments below.