I hate email. I am not alone. One of the internet’s first two killer apps is the only one of the two that actually kills. Email is a scourge, a time consuming frustration foisted upon humanity by extraterrestrial gods to make us mad before we destroy ourselves.
Email is a necessary evil, too. You know. Like the Electoral College, which everyone hates and nobody wants to do anything about. Apple’s Mail app is decent, especially on the Mac. It’s easy to set up accounts, and easy to manage both local folders and IMAP folders. It’s also free and spam control is decent. What’s not to like?
Mail is the email app that must appeal to every Mac, iPhone, and iPad user, and that makes it cumbersome for those of us with too much email, and cluttered for those who just have a few email accounts. Enter Spark, my new favorite Mac email app that is almost perfect. Almost.
What makes Spark so good is the balance it achieves with major features and the discipline it has on not making email overly complicated. Spark on the Mac is instantly familiar.
Inbox, Spam, Smart Inbox, Archive, and Trash folders on the left (including a simple way to view IMAP folders on the email server), email listed in the center column, and then all the message details in the main column. Search is fast and left and right swipes to delete or move or archive messages works the same across platforms; Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Therein lies one of the benefits to using Spark. The look and feel is almost the same on each device, usability is the same, and settings are automatically backed up to iCloud and used by each device. That means all you email accounts, once installed on one device, show up on the others.
Smart Notifications and Smart Inbox work together to help you filter out email messages that are less important, but they’re always accessible. Spark accepts Calendar invitations with ease, and the Send Later feature means email can be written now but sent when you want. Yes, that works on Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Perhaps because it isn’t packed with features that seldom get used, Spark is rock solid dependable, and the Watch version can actually be used. Otherwise, setup Spark on your Mac (keyboard entry of email settings seems easier on keyboard) and the account settings show up on iPhone and iPad.
I have half a dozen email accounts that range from standard IMAP to iCloud to Outlook and Exchange to Google and Yahoo! and they just work. No hiccups other than the app-specific passwords for iCloud email accounts.
There’s also some good news and bad news regarding Spark.
First, the good news. Spark is free. For now. The shoe will have to drop some day, right? Second, the bad news. Spam. That is still a manual process, but if you run SpamSieve on your Mac it captures most of what Spark would receive before it gets there.