Some people find me strange, but before you start nominating the reasons why that could be the case I’m talking about one specific thing: email. I’m one of the thinning number of people who continue to use a desktop mail client.
Now this is where I become even more strange, because I download my email from Gmail. I have a permanent archive of the last 4 or so years of email always online and accessible, but I’ve never loved the interface, so I’ve only ever used it while I was on the road, but never at home.
Why? it’s a habit of a lifetime. Outside some early years on a dumb Unix terminal, I’ve always used a desktop email client, primarily Outlook for many years, although occasionally Thunderbird and more recently Apple Mail.
But it’s no longer practical. I’m out too much now, or I need to follow up on email away from my desktop computer. If I’m in bed on my laptop, or on the road with my iPhone, I need to be able to see my email as I’ve dealt with it, not after its left the main screen and been downloaded.
Mailplane is a Mac desktop email client for Gmail. It delivers Gmail on the screen, but adds many of the features you get on a standard desktop client, such as drag and drop attachments, navigation buttons, easy access to my contacts (local contacts on top of those from gmail) and more. It even supports multiple Gmail accounts and keyboard shortcuts.
There are a number of things lacking, and the two biggest are drag and drop email into folders, and an email preview panel. Not having either is annoying, but that’s not the fault of Mailplane, that’s Gmail is 2008, still lacking in basic features nearly ALL of their competitors offer.
I’m two days in so far, and after setting up a ton of rules in Gmail to reflect the ones I had on the desktop, I’m going ok. The ability to access current email tagged and sorted where ever I am is already making life easier, well, presuming you count dealing with email in bed a step forward. I’ll report back in a couple of weeks with tips for others thinking of making the transition.