Mac OS X: Gmail has a lot of great productivity features, but sadly, most desktop clients don’t play nicely with it. Minimalist email client Sparrow changes all that, including some of Gmail’s best features for a native, desktop Gmail experience.
The Gmail web interface is great, but for one reason or another you may choose not to use it. You don’t like it filling up tabs in your browser, you’re one of the many that experiences extreme slowness, or you just like to have offline access to your email. The downside of going with a regular email client is that they aren’t exactly designed to work with Gmail, since it tends to be a little… non-conformist. Sparrow fills that gap with a minimalist client specifically tailored to Gmail. We looked at Sparrow when it was in beta, and liked what we saw — and now it’s out for everyone to use, in the form of a $13 download from the Mac App Store.
Nearly all the Gmail features you’ve come to know and love are here. It supports labels (not folders, like all those other apps), conversation views, and aliases, while adding helpful desktop features like Growl notifications and multiple accounts. For such a minimal client, it does a good job of keeping some of Gmail’s best features intact. It does not, however, include Priority Inbox, Gmail Labs features, or (oddly enough) any kind of advanced searching. That’s not to say you can’t just open up the web interface when you need those advanced features — Sparrow will get most of your day-to-day stuff done without a problem, and in a really quick, easy-to-navigate way. My only other gripe is that, until you expand a message, you can’t tell how many labels are attached to it — it’ll only show one colour at a time on the right-hand side of the window. A small gripe, but something that would really help with the otherwise amazing labels integration.
$13 may seem a bit hefty to some of you, but its uniqueness means it’s worth every penny. You won’t find another email client that works this well with Gmail — not even the Gmail-like Postbox. If you want a desktop experience without sacrificing some of Gmail’s best features, this is the app to get. Besides, let’s not forget why sometimes it’s worth it to pry open your wallet for good software — and $13 is actually pretty cheap for an email client.
Sparrow is a $13 download for Mac OS X only.
Sparrow [Mac App Store]