Having an email client installed on your Mac can make a huge difference for your productivity. After all, your web browser is a portal to distraction, and any time you boot up Chrome or Safari to check on your inbox you’re in danger of losing at least 10–15 minutes to reading the news, browsing Facebook, or going down a “wiki-spiral.”
That said, not every email client is built the same. While macOS comes with the Apple Mail app by default, it might not necessarily be the best fit for your needs.
Best Email Apps For Mac 2021
So what’s the best email app for Mac then? Depends on what you do. You might be a power user, comfortable with running macros to make the most out of your email experience, or you might just want something that works out of the box without having to fuss with settings. Security could be your top priority if you work with sensitive materials, or you might just need to easily manage multiple accounts.
Whatever the case, there are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating all email clients: How fast is the setup process? How easy is it to use? Is it secure? What are the sorting options for your inbox? Is it nice to look at?
Let’s sift through some top email apps using this questioning framework.
Apple Mail: Best email client for Mac by default
What makes Apple products great is also what limits them: because Apple needs to make apps that are so easy to use that anyone can use them, much of what they produce is quite basic in functionality. Which is fine — just make sure you know what you’re getting with the Apple Mail app.
You definitely get a clean, user-friendly design that’s in line with all the other Apple software. In addition, you get outstanding integration with macOS and iOS, including the use of the Notification Center and the ability to send emails via the Share function in other apps.
Although adding multiple email providers, including iCloud and Gmail, is easy — there have been some bug reports around using Microsoft accounts, such as Hotmail or Live. Maybe the old Apple and Microsoft feud is not over yet?
In step with the times, Apple Mail app makes it effortless to add emoji to your emails from the shortcut bar right in the composing email window.
Honestly, for most people, the Apple Mail app will absolutely be enough. However, if you’re the kind of person who has a lot going on in their inbox, there are not too many ways to filter through all the messages quickly and pin down important conversations, or simply delete unwanted mail.
Easy-to-use Mac mail
Fantastic Mac and iOS integration
Not so great:
A history of bugs with Microsoft accounts
Lacking high-powered organizational tools
Mozilla Thunderbird: Best free email client for Mac power users
Perhaps most widely known for their web browser, Firefox, Mozilla’s other major product is their email client, Thunderbird. Hailed as the best free email app on the market at various points throughout its long history, where does Thunderbird stand in 2021?
Unfortunately, Thunderbird’s design shows its age. Blocky and utilitarian, it’s quite a bit uglier than most modern email clients. But look below the surface and you’ll discover some very handy features.
For one, you have the option of tagging emails as they come in. Just add tags like Personal, Work, and ToDo and suddenly conversations become much easier to find later on. Even better, create your own tags to make the classification system as specific as you need it to be.
Thunderbird features an integrated calendar and chat client, both of which are indispensable for work, and boasts great privacy features — like not automatically displaying images (hence stopping pixel trackers) when you open emails (can be changed in Preferences).
Overall, Thunderbird has some powerful value propositions but is also a bit ugly and unintuitive. So, if the looks don’t bother you, give it a try. Otherwise, you’re better off using another option.
Tagging is powerful and helps you organize your emails quickly
Not so great:
Not the prettiest interface
Unintuitive user experience. It takes time to figure out Thunderbird’s best features.
Kiwi for Gmail: Best Gmail app for Mac
If you don’t use Gmail, you can skip this one: Kiwi isn’t for you.
But for all other Gmail for Mac users, Kiwi for Gmail is an excellent Mac mail option. A desktop app with the look and feel of your browser email inbox, Kiwi features the ability to combine multiple accounts and filter your inbox with Focus to organize correspondence by date, importance, attachments, and more.
In many ways, Kiwi is Gmail’s missing ingredient, making the best free email provider online also the premier Gmail app for Mac. What’s even more exciting is that Kiwi lets you run G Suite apps like Google Docs and Sheets outside of your browser. Being able to leave Chrome or Safari behind and get some focused work done alone makes Kiwi worth the install.
- Kiwi makes Gmail better
- Combine multiple Gmail accounts
- Focused work outside the browser with Google Docs
Not so great:
Doesn’t support non-Gmail accounts
Spark: Best Mac email client for a clean inbox
A relatively new email client for Mac, Spark is based on an intriguing premise: What if your inbox was able to sort itself out based on your priorities but without your input?
Spark’s Smart Inbox algorithms are able to instantly identify whether an email is personal, work-related, or just a newsletter you signed up for years ago because it gave you a coupon but have since completely forgotten about. This kind of artificial intelligence works so well that Apple gave Spark an Editor’s Choice Award a few years ago.
In its quest for widespread adoption, Spark doubles down on usability, offering quick, one-click replies with generated text based on how you typically respond to emails and powerful automatic functions to clean up your inbox in seconds. Besides, the app is beautifully designed and very easy to use.
Of course, for Spark to have all of these powerful features, complete access to the content of your emails is required — which might raise some privacy-minded eyebrows. However, a lot of people would be happy to offer that in return for ease of use. So, if this notion doesn’t bother you, Spark might well be the best free email app for Mac.
- Clean design
- Smart Inbox organizes your unread emails
Could be the most professional email client for Mac
The only non-Apple email client with the Apple seal of approval
“Send later” feature lets you schedule emails
Not so great:
Requires more of your data than other email clients
Canary Mail: Best security in an email client for Mac
New to the Mac email client game, Canary Mail’s outstanding list of features still makes it a worthy contender.
Canary Mail prioritizes security and privacy, providing every email you send with end-to-end encryption, so that if your data is ever intercepted it can’t be read. Even better, you don’t have to change any settings to do this — everything is set up right out of the box.
Add to that a fantastic design and some excellent filtering options, such as natural language search, smart tags, algorithmic bulk cleaner, and intelligent typography enhancements, and Canary Mail might well be the best email app for Mac, period.
- Great design
- Smart filters
- Intelligent typography
- Automatic end-to-end encryption
- Available to all email providers
- Algorithmic bulk cleaner
Unibox: Most innovative email client for Mac
The most exciting thing about Unibox is how it fundamentally changes the way you see your inbox. Instead of organizing everything by date received or subject, Unibox structures every conversation around contacts. That way your inbox resembles your text messages or messaging app, making everything intuitive and easy to navigate.
The developers of Unibox worked hard on making their email client for Mac the easiest to use on the market — and it shows. The design is stunning and you can easily respond to any email in the same window, get previews of attachments right there, and just scroll to remind yourself of all the conversations you’ve had with that person.
- Email like messages
- Intuitive and easy-to-use design
- Works with all major email providers
Best of all, Canary Mail and Unibox are both available for a free seven-day trial through Setapp, a subscription platform with over 200 top Mac apps chosen to make your day more productive and fun. Now can’t you wait to go back to emails already?