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Mail.app alternatives – Mailplane FTW!

Based on the post from the other day about Mozilla Thunderbird as an alternative to Apple’s Mail.app, I got a recommendation on the straight-talking java mailing from Joey Gibson to check out the commercial application Mailplane. After a day playing with it, I’ve now bought a license. Now Mailplane isn’t your average mail program – what it is a webkit-based wrapper around Gmail with some added extras, like integration with the Apple Address Book. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have integration with the Apple iCal program. I have also been using Spanning Sync for a while now to keep my Apple and Google calendars and address books in sync, so I don’t really mind the Gmail centricity of Mailplane. You need to have a Gmail account and it will only with with Gmail. It uses the Gmail interface so it doesn’t store your emails locally (unless you get the beta version and use the Google-Gears-driven “offline” mode).

As for non-Google email, my work uses Exchange – and I can’t reach an secure port for that without firing up the work VPN, so usually I use the shockingly clunky webmail alternative anyway – so its not like I am losing out on any functionality. I have a .mac address which truth be told doesn’t get used that much – and Gmail can suck in pop-based email into it’s own accounts anyway. It can be used with an unlimited number of Gmail accounts.

If you are a Gmail user on a Mac, I’d definitely recommend having a look at Mailplane.  It’s a nice way to get the Gmail-native way of handling email (which generally I love)  onto the Mac. I think its needs some improvement, such as integration into Apple’s iCal, and perhaps, if possible, the abstraction of some of the Gmail interface elements (such as gmail’s list of labels) out into native interface widgets.