MailPilot is a new email client that was initially released on iOS following a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Although the app launched with high hopes and promises, the iOS version has, unfortunately, been plagued with numerous bugs and quirks that have yet to be fixed as of this writing. To MailPilot’s benefit, the app developer does seem to be actively working towards bringing the iOS app into stability, as I have seen a steady set of releases since its launch.
Looking past the iOS version, MailPilot recently released a Mac version – and, being ever on the hunt for the best email client, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.
Spoiler alert: Mail Pilot is just a fast, and clean email client. Review done.
In all seriousness, Mail Pilot, like its iOS counterpart, is a subtle shift in how one handles email. It goes the way of other mail clients, like Mailbox and Boxer, in that you organize when you answer. The client works almost like a reminder for email and it does so quickly; besides the now defunct Sparrow Mail, I haven’t encountered any mail client for Mac that works as quickly. The initial launch of the app on your device and initial indexing does take the typical required period of time, but after that it’s smooth sailing.
Now, let’s go over some of the functionality… One of my favorite Mail Pilot features is the straightforward approach to individual emails – four keyboard shortcuts get you a long way. (spacebar: deletes, S: sets aside an email, R: schedules for a later date, L: add to a list)
This easy-to-use feature allows me to stream through my email quickly and efficiently. I can think about my email as a task or a communication that needs to be accomplished so that I can then determine when in my schedule to address the issue.
For example, when I receive a work email over a non-working weekend, I can tell Mail Pilot to prompt me on Monday to address the email or, if it’s a non-essential email, like something I want to read later that day, I can set it aside, and review my “asides” at my own convenience (excellent for those subscription emails or news website alerts).
Lists are nothing fancy at the moment, but they are essentially folders (or labels) that I can use to organize my email. The only issue with them is you can actually remove email from them when you complete (archive) an email – so lists are more of a temporary device and should be thought of more as “to-do” folders than an actual filing system.
Of note, lists do remove the emails from your account view, but not from the inbox view. I’ve used them for projects that we are working on and have found this feature helpful in organizing and prioritizing – I simply use the lists to store any emails containing information I want easily accessible and then, once the project is over, I move them all to complete and delete the list.
The search is perhaps Mail Pilot’s biggest fault; rarely have I been able to find the email I need with the search function. It’s sluggish at best and often takes a significant length of time versus searching on gmail itself. Overall, it’s a bit of a quirky search that doesn’t always work as expected – but recently, I have noticed an improvement.
I tested the app all through the beta and search has improved immensely over the course of Mail Pilot’s development; however it’s definitely not as fast or responsive as I’d like. I’m hoping they will work on improving the search functionality in the coming months.
My other major issue with it is the lack of options. For example, I really want to change the default highlight color (red). I understand that red is the color of their app icon, but it’s definitely not a soothing or aesthetically pleasing color to be faced with when you are diving into tackling your daily email. Just allow us to tweak that color already! And some more preferences (default fonts, font sizes, etc.) in general would be welcome improvements.
Overall, Mail Pilot has some promise and handy features, but the app has a ways to go until it truly takes off. Like I said, it’s a quick, clean email client – but as it currently stands, that’s about it.