Alternative to Apple Mail—three options reviewed

If you need an alternative to Apple Mail for your Mac, there are many options you can explore. This guide reviews some of the best email clients to consider.
While Mac’s native email client may be sufficient for casual everyday use, some users might find it too limiting. It lacks integration with other productivity tools like Notes and Calendar, and there’s no support for third-party tools and add-ons.Email organization could also use some refining, most notably the platform’s approach to labels. You can only flag emails under different colors without the ability to set up custom labels.This guide will teach you what to look for in an email client and review some of the best platforms on the market to help you explore the available options and choose the best alternative to Apple Mail.
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What to look for in a Mac email client

Excluding personal preferences as a subjective factor that varies significantly among users, there are four universal attributes of an email client you should consider when browsing different options:
  1. User interface
  2. Email organization features
  3. Cross-platform support
  4. Pricing
  5. Security

User interface

A poorly designed user interface can cause various bottlenecks and damage productivity. Your email client should ensure seamless correspondence by eliminating clutter and intuitively placing all the necessary functions.Some of the main features of a well-designed email client include:
  • Minimalism—Packing an email client with too many functions, accent colors, and commands makes it hard on the eyes, so your email client should feature a clean, simple interface
  • Inobtrusive email composing—You should have a clear overview of your inbox while composing an email so that you can reference specific threads when needed. Gmail’s web app is an example of a platform that doesn’t do this well—when you’re composing a new email, it opens an immovable window that blocks your inbox
  • A clear view of the key commands—Your email client should make it easy to compose emails and manage incoming mail by adapting the layout depending on your actions and highlighting the most relevant commands

Email organization features

As mentioned, Apple Mail isn’t the most robust solution when it comes to email management and organization. This may not be a problem if you only email occasionally, but frequent and advanced users need a rich set of organization tools.Your email client should also take some of the organization off your plate. For instance, it should automatically filter out spam, phishing, and other useless and potentially harmful emails. Most email clients aren’t foolproof regarding spam detection, but you can still find a platform that minimizes the manual work necessary to remove unwanted mail.Smart inboxes are another useful feature, the implementation of which can vary significantly between platforms. Outlook, for example, uses the Focused Inbox that shows you the most important mail based on the sender and your correspondence history. Gmail has a similar feature that automatically categorizes promotional and social emails into dedicated folders.Due to the recent explosion of AI-powered solutions, some email clients have implemented machine learning to let users organize and manage their emails more easily. The results have been somewhat mixed as the technology is still new, but you can experiment with such options to see if you’ll find them helpful.

Cross-platform support

Apple is well-known for its cohesive but closed ecosystem. Many Mac apps and platforms—including email clients—are exclusive to macOS and don’t support Android, Windows, and other operating systems.Opting for such an email client makes it hard to stay on top of your correspondence. You won’t always be near your laptop, so your email platform should offer cross-platform support to ensure you can see and respond to important emails on the go.The good news is that this criterion doesn’t significantly narrow your pool of options, as most email clients offer at least a web app you can access from most devices. Of course, having a dedicated app is still preferable, as mobile web apps might be inconvenient and hard to navigate.


Many Mac users stick to Apple Mail because it’s pre-built and free to use. There are no premium versions that would keep essential functions behind a paywall, so you get most features an average user needs.Luckily, you don’t need to invest in order to switch to another provider, as there are various options with rich free plans. When comparing them, make sure the provider doesn’t charge for the most important features, such as the following:
  • Sufficient storage
  • Mailbox organization
  • Spam protection and other security measures
If you do want a premium solution, assess the value for money that you get with each provider, as it can vary significantly between different services.


While email security largely depends on your provider, using a third-party client means more room for privacy invasion unless they’re committed to keeping your data confidential. Many email clients store your conversations and data on their servers, exposing you to the risk of data breaches unless they use proper encryption.Encryption means turning your data into strings of unintelligible characters. It should stay in this form while traveling between servers (encryption in transit) and being idle on them (encryption at rest).While combining these two encryption types gives you some security, the question is who can access the encryption keys. Typically, the provider creates and stores the keys, which means they can decrypt your data and read plaintext copies of emails.To avoid this, you’ll ideally go with an email client offering end-to-end encryption (E2EE). As the name implies, this encryption method protects your emails all the way between you and the recipient. More importantly, encryption keys are created and stored on your device, so even the email platform can’t see your messages.Email clients offering this level of security are few and far between, but searching for privacy-first platforms should uncover some options worth exploring.
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Three alternatives to Apple Mail you should consider

To shorten your search for the best alternative to Apple Mail, we’ve compiled a list of three top contenders:
  1. Spark
  2. Canary Mail
  3. Skiff Mail


Source: SparkSpark is considered one of the best email clients for Mac, as confirmed by its Apple Editors’ Choice award on the Mac App Store. It’s free to use and comes with various welcome features, most notably:
  • Unified inbox for managing your mail in one place
  • Smart inbox that separates incoming mail into several categories (Personal, Seen, Notifications, etc.)
  • Snooze and send-later functions
Spark also offers a +AI Compose feature that lets you write, edit, and reply to emails with the help of an AI-powered assistant. This feature isn’t available with the free plan, though, so you’ll need to upgrade to a premium tier to use it.If you decide to do so, you have two options depending on whether you only need Spark for yourself or your team:
  1. Premium Individual—$4.99 per month (billed annually)
  2. Premium Team—$6.99/user per month (billed annually)
Paid plans may only be worth it if you need advanced features, such as the gatekeeper option that scans the email from a new sender to let you decide whether you want to engage with it or remove it immediately. This is more of a nice-to-have than something you’ll need, as you can make the same assessment without a dedicated feature.Spark is available on most Apple devices (including the Apple Watch), Android, and Windows. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a web version, which might be an issue if your app crashes.
Various organization tools+AI Compose feature unavailable with the free plan
Robust free planNo web version
Excellent cross-platform support.

Canary Mail

Source: Canary MailCanary Mail is another multi-platform email client with a well-optimized macOS version. It features a clean, modern design without much clutter, enabling a smooth emailing experience. It also comes with a few helpful organization features, most notably:
  • 1-click unsubscribe to stop unwanted mail
  • Mail Cleaner that helps you keep your inbox neat more easily
  • Newsletter management for staying on top of promotional correspondence
Still, Canary Mail’s standout feature is Sidekick AI, which performs several accommodating actions. Besides helping you compose an email, it can summarize a received message to give you the highlights. It also prioritizes your incoming emails based on your prior behavior, helping you see all important messages.The main downside of Sidekick AI is that only the composing feature is available with the free plan. To unlock the other two, you must upgrade to the Pro plan, which costs $20 per year. Canary Mail also offers the Enterprise plan for business users, starting at $100/user per year.While Canary Mail uses end-to-end encryption, only the paid plan users can access it. Besides, the platform uses the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) protocol, which is considered outdated due to significant vulnerabilities.You do get SecureSend with a free account, which Canary Mail claims is also a form of end-to-end encryption. This feature is in beta as of this writing, though, so its effectiveness is yet to be determined.
Clean user interfaceFree end-to-end encryption implementation is still in beta
AI-powered toolsPGP used for E2EE with the paid plan
Affordable paid plan.


Source: SkiffSkiff Mail is a privacy-first email provider and a client offering users complete control over their data through end-to-end encryption. The platform uses two separate keys to keep each email confidential:
  • A public encryption key that is shared with the recipient
  • A private decryption key that is safely stored on the user’s device
All emails are encrypted on your device before leaving it, so even Skiff’s team can’t access unencrypted copies.You can sign up for Skiff Mail without leaving any personal information (like your name and phone number), thanks to the zero-knowledge login feature. Your login credentials are encrypted using the Secure Remote Password algorithm for additional security.Besides advanced privacy and security measures, Skiff Mail offers various features that help you create a streamlined workflow in a safe online environment:Thanks to the beautifully designed user interface, you can use all of the above features regardless of your tech skills or knowledge.
Source: SkiffSkiff is open source, so the codebase is fully transparent and undergoes rigorous auditing. You can find Skiff’s cryptographic libraries on GitHub and read the whitepaper for additional information.Besides macOS, Skiff is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and all major browsers, so you can keep your correspondence safe wherever you are.Skiff’s main downside is that it can’t offer complete protection if your device is already compromised by malware, though the same goes for other email clients.
End-to-end encryptionCan’t completely safeguard your emails if your device is corrupted
User-friendly interface.
Open source platform.

Get started with Skiff for free

All of the features mentioned above are available with Skiff’s free plan that doesn’t have a time limit. The plan is robust enough for personal and casual business use, so it should meet an average user’s needs. When you sign up, you’ll get access to three additional end-to-end encrypted platforms:
  • Skiff Pages for document editing and collaboration in an E2EE environment
  • Skiff Drive for storing your files safely and leveraging decentralization with optional InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) integration
  • Skiff Calendar for staying on top of your schedule and hosting secure video conferences
If you want to expand Skiff’s functionality, you can choose from three paid tiers starting at only $3 per month. You can unlock more storage and features like short email aliases and unlimited doc version history in Skiff Pages.To create a secure online workspace and fortify your security, you can get started with Skiff in three steps:
  1. Go to the signup page
  2. Create your free account by choosing a username and password
  3. Explore Skiff Mail and other E2EE platforms

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