For most people, email is what they use to log into their Facebook machine. The idea of bothering with a client doesn’t even cross their minds. But for those of us who rely on email for work and personal projects, online inboxes can be the bane of our existence.
Sure, Gmail has certainly come a long way but when you’ve got three different addresses for twenty different purposes wrangling in over a hundred emails a day it can feel like painting the Golden Gate with nail polish.
Until recently I used Thunderbird to control this beast. Unfortunately, the old avian crashes at least once a day now and her feathers have lost their colour. Postbox promised a refreshing email experience that is ‘socially connected’, quick and easy. Let’s see.
I set aside a good hour of my day to tackle the initial set up. Once the download was complete I prepared myself for the configuration and inevitable troubleshooting that comes with one IMAP and two POP3 email addresses.
It was then that Postbox surprised me for the first (yet not the last) time. It scaned my computer for other email clients, took all the settings I had from Thunderbird and Outlook, and instantly configured inboxes for Postbox. Within a couple of minutes a small chime indicated three inboxes nicely updated and organised with my emails.
Postbox looks like most other email clients upon the first glance. There’s nothing you’ll struggle to get used to and it’s all laid out very nicely. To the left of the screen there’s a list of email accounts with the selected one having its various folders in the pane below. Folders are downloaded from the online account and displayed exactly as you have them organised online.
The first great thing I noticed with Postbox is how it displays email conversations. Most online apps and desktop clients display previous emails as quoted in subsequent ones or even not at all. When I’m Cc’ed in on conversations with multiple participants it can be like keeping track of spaghetti. Postbox threads different emails from different folders (Inbox, sent, etc..) and displays them as one logical conversation, as you can see above. It also minimises your responses to maximise the pane’s space.
Following on from this effort is the ability to compose a message while simultaneously reading a small conversation summary. This summary tells the user who said what when. I found this to be extremely useful.
What’s more is that it’s continuously updated even while you’re composing which is great for rapid email exchanges – you’re constantly in the loop. It’s displayed in a rather minimalist fashion directly below your reply field.
As I mentioned above, multiple address with hundreds of emails can be overwhelming on a Monday morning. Postbox allows you to divide up each inbox into different sections to better deal with the arriving mail. This can be done in different ways.
Rule-like procedures can divide mail into work, personal, travel etc folders. You can also select most frequently used contacts or by good old fashioned time/date attributes. Emails with or without attachments can also be prioritised as you can see above.
Postbox also plays well with other aspects of your PC. For example, when searching for attachments is doesn’t bring up a Windows Explorer pop-up. So sir, it searches right there within the program. This is just one of the many features which really reveal the power behind Postbox.
This power has been capitalised on by the developers to allow for on of my favourite things about Postbox – the capability to search for an attachment for an email, while composing said email, right there in the composition pane!
A small column will appear to the right of the screen with basic search and filter functions (image, document etc..). Files are displayed with their icon to the left adding to the visual side of things and are attached to the email with a single click.
You may have noticed that the contacts above all have photos next to them. That’s because Postbox will retrieve people’s Facebook or Twitter profile pictures and display them. But that’s not all it uses it social connectivity for. You can update your Facebook or Twitter feed directly from the program. It’s greatest social feature however, is that it will display people’s job titles and roles next to their contact information as dictated by their LinkedIn profile. Awesome.
Postbox can also automatically detect dates used in email conversations so that you can rapidly create events in popular calendars such as Google Calendar. And instead of sending a big attachment, why not send a Dropbox link instead? Because Postbox can do that, you know.
An email client must not be the most exciting program to design these days. It’s not 1996 anymore. However, the guys over a Postbox have done a great job making a boring old onbox look really good. The colour scheme is modern and flush while icons and buttons are really smart and displayed well.
Small features such as spacing between the address fields lends the user a fluid feel and good displaying of search results such as images is total eye candy. I also really like how the menu bar across the top of the screen has been kept to a minimum leaving plenty of room for the main panes for your inbox, composing an email and so on.
Without a doubt, Postbox version 3 is the replacement for Thunderbird for users who are willing to part with a few dollars. It’s free to try for thirty days, after which a single licence will cost €9.95 euros. This can be used to install the program on every computer you use, PC or Mac, or both.
I have to say that it’s worth every single cent.
Postbox is quite simply leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. What’s more the developers are constantly updating the program bring out new versions every year or so. I challenge any email power-user to try it out and not keep using it after the trial period has expired. It’s simply too good to give up.
Postbox, now in its third version, is a great email client that blows Thunderbird out of the water. It packs some powerful feature which make managing multiple email accounts extremely easy. It's designed excellently and works really well both with other programs on your PC, social networks and existing online email accounts.9