Email is an underrated and the most disrespected means of communication. It has been around for decades and has made official and personal communication inexpensive. Of course it has its own set of disadvantages, just like any other form of communication we are used to. To a large extent, the hatred towards email is fostered mainly by clunky and bloated email clients – both on the web and the desktop.
From time to time, Gmail and mail clients for Mac like the now defunct Sparrow reinvent the way emails are handled. Sadly for Windows, we never had slick clients like Sparrow when it came to desk email experience. But, that has changed now. Recently, I was introduced to Mailbird, which I’m sure is gonna take desktop email experience to the next level.
Mailbird is currently in private beta and you’ll have to register for access. Once you get your hands on the installer though, things are never gonna be the same on the email front. Mailbird requires .NET 4.0 version installed in the system. If you don’t have it, fret not the installer will take care of that for you as well.
After automatically downloading and installing the .NET framework, you’ll be prompted enter your email credentials. Right now, only Gmail is supported and since this is the beta stage, we can always expect more mailboxes to be supported in the future. And you need to enable IMAP from the Gmail Settings page, which takes just a couple of clicks to complete.
I use two factor authentication for my Google account and it means I need to generate application specific passwords for each new app that requires Google account access. I was so surprised to see that Mailbird supports application specific passwords right out of the box. A big kudos for keeping a watchful eye on security!
Accessing the Inbox
After addressing the prompt for quick Facebook integration, we are off to the inbox. The user interface is simple, intuitive and gorgeous. The three column interface is carefully designed to look elegant and there are no unnecessary menus or toolbars we have gotten used to either.
The leftmost column is all about organization. Access to folders, drafts, sent items starred mails etc are available from here. The color used in the column background is way too dark and is often tough to clearly see the icons. A lighter shade would make the experience whole lot better.
Mails are displayed in the typical style in the column at the center. The name of the sender, a preview and the timestamp are shown for each mail listed in here.
Hover over the profile pic to bring up the quick access icons. From archiving to tagging and trashing it, all common email level actions are available for quick access. All my mails were quickly downloaded from Gmail and were neatly tucked into their respective folders.
I really liked the way threaded conversations were presented. Not all the messages are shown by default. The first message is shown while the rest of the conversation is tucked away. You can see them by clicking on the messages you want to see in the conversation. Endless scrolls can be avoided by this technique. However, lack of message previews makes this feature unusable at the moment.
The pencil icon at the top right corner is where you should go to start composing a mail. Like the rest of the app, this interface is simple and clean as well. All standard features have made the interface and to attach files, use the icon at the lower left corner of the window.
Mailbird is all about speed. Sending emails, syncing, accessing, searching – all actions happen without any lag. The sluggishness that accompanies each and every click in a conventional email client is notably absent.
Mailbird stands out from the crowd on many fronts. The Apps section especially is a cool addition that’s worth a mention. From here, you can choose between several cool apps to increase your productivity, connectivity and sociability. Besides the regular integrations like Calendar, the app brings together popular third party apps like Dropbox and Asana. A promising idea with a potential to become Mailbird’s USP.
Mailbird is amazing. Just when you think all the cool apps are gonna be sporting the Windows 8 interface, apps like Mailbird reinforce that a lot of magic is still possible with the good old Windows platform. It’s fast, nimble and is so simple to use.
At this juncture, there is no word on the pricing on their homepage. However, there is a 25% discount if you go and get their Pro version now. There is no mention of a free version at this moment. Sure, the user interface does remind me about Sparrow. But that’s something that isn’t going to stop me from recommending it to you. Go for it!