Hands-on with Mailbox for Mac: a fast, powerful, gestural mail client

Mailbox for Mac (teaser 001)

We first heard rumors of a Mac version of the popular Mailbox app last year, and it was since confirmed as being in development, with a public beta sign up for those interested in early access. Although it’s been a while, users who signed up for the beta are finally getting their invites.

I’ve had the privilege of getting a pre-public beta copy of Mailbox for Mac, and I’ve been putting it through its paces ever since. Here are some thoughts on the OS X edition of this incredible mail client.

When Mailbox for iOS first launched and was being incrementally rolled out to a very long line of users, I was excited to finally get to try out the sleek new mail client after days of waiting in queue. My favorite things about Mailbox were the gestures – I love gesture-based apps – the clean, minimal UI, and the ease with which an inbox could be cleared and kept clean. Mailbox solved the biggest peeves I had with email by making it easy to save, delete, and sort emails as they came in – all without having to read a single email.


All this still holds true in Mailbox for Mac. The simple, clean UI and the gestures for dealing with incoming email are both very similar to the iOS version, but each is optimized for OS X. Both Apple Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad users can quickly swipe away emails using the same short/long left/right gestures found in Mailbox for iOS. Even the settings panel is essentially the same across both platforms, with minor OS-exclusive differences coming into play.

One of the key advantages of Mailbox is the server-side managing of checking for new mail, scheduling email reminders, and sorting messages into lists and inboxes. This method of overseeing email in a way invisible to the user makes for a fast, seamless experience not often found in email clients.

Not only does the Mac app handle this beautifully, but the synchronization with its iOS counterpart is near-instant. Archiving or trashing an email on your Mac removes it from your inbox on the iOS app in the same second. The reverse is also true – move an email with Mailbox for iOS and it instantly vanishes from the Mac client.

Navigating Mailbox for Mac is perhaps even simpler than on iOS. There are no sub-menus save in Preferences, and all your inboxes and folders are available in the sidebar at any given time. The selected directory’s email feed is always visible unless you’ve reached Inbox Zero, and the highlighted email or thread forever resides in the right half of the app.

Mailbox for Mac (teaser 001)

Above the email view are buttons for archiving, trashing, scheduling and sending emails to lists – in case a swipe is somehow inconvenient – and Reply, Reply All, and Forward buttons are located near the bottom of the currently selected email or thread. There are also several hotkeys to take the place of buttons or swipes, with R triggering a reply and F drafting a forwarded message.

A search bar is available at the top of the inbox feed, and as with the iOS client, it searches all your inboxes and folders at once, leaving nothing hidden in the recesses of your email account.

In the top right is a compose button which displays a beautiful email sheet for sending an email. Only the essential “To”, “Subject”, and “Message” fields are displayed at first, keeping the UI clean and simple. A dropdown arrow can display more fields, including “CC”, “BBC”, and the email from which you are sending the message.


After spending quite some time with Mailbox for Mac, I can say it already outperforms every other email client I’ve tried, and it’s still in beta. Not only is it beautiful, simple, and gesture-based – which is enough to win me over regardless – but it’s blisteringly fast in retrieving emails and syncing with its iOS counterpart.

If you’re a Gmail or iCloud Mail user, I can’t think of any reason why Mailbox for Mac couldn’t completely replace any other email client you currently use. In tandem with Mailbox for iOS and Android, it is really all you need to effortlessly manage email and reach Inbox Zero day after day.

Mailbox for Mac has now reached public beta, so you can get in line to enjoy it for yourself. You can also install the iOS client from the App Store now.

Have you downloaded Mailbox for Mac yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Special thanks to Eytan Schulman for contributing to this article.