Review : Mailplane

An app that gives you all the Gmail features in a standalone e-mail cl

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: uncomplex ltd/gmbh

Price: $24.95 US

The Good

  • Switch between more than 3 Gmail accounts.
  • Attach screenshots to a new mail message.
  • Warns you about unsaved changes when closing a window.
  • Converts pictures attachments to jpeg format.
  • Supports Growl notifications.
  • Rapportive plug-in displays public profile information.
  • Adds needed features to Gmail.

The Bad

  • Needs a way to sync the Google contacts with the Mail address.
  • Cannot use browser plug-ins such as Integrated Gmail and Groups in the Gmail interface.
Mailplane, by uncomplex ltd, is a desktop application that provides you with all the features of Gmail plus the advantages of a standalone e-mail client. You can drag and drop attachments, use rich text formatted signatures, and switch between several accounts with a mouse click.

Setting up your Gmail accounts in Mailplane is as easy as logging into your Gmail account. If you do not have a Gmail account, or want to sign up for another account, click the Sign up Gmail account button in the lower left.


Mailplane Login

If you select "Store password in keychain" and "Automatically login," when you start Mailplane, it signs you into the account you choose as your default account. It looks exactly like Gmail in your web browser, with some added features.


Mailplane Window and Accounts Panel

When Mailplane opens, you see the familiar Gmail interface, but with a toolbar for additional functions. You can still use all the Gmail themes, the Google Labs widgets, and the keyboard shortcuts. An Accounts drawer opens on the right and lists all the Gmail accounts you have set up in Mailplane. To switch accounts, you just click the account name you want to use. This is the killer feature for me. Even with Gmail's multiple sign-ins, you can only sign in to three accounts, but with Mailplane, you can have as many open accounts as you need. I set up four accounts as a test, and Mailplane worked flawlessly, logging out of one account and logging into the account I chose.


The Toolbar has buttons for New, Reply, Forward, Send, and Discard but the buttons on the right of the toolbar are what make Mailplane extra useful. Screenshot, Email (Address Book), Media, Downloads, and the Accounts drawer all put Mailplane a step ahead of Gmail in a browser.


Mailplane Toolbar

When you click the Screenshot button, you get a choice to capture a selection, a window, or the entire screen. The screenshot is attached to a new email message so you could send an error message, or a setting in Preferences, to a friend or a support technician. For example, I took a screenshot of NASA streaming the lunar eclipse on Dec 21 and emailed it along with the URL, to friend so he could watch too.

The Email button opens Apple's Address Book, and allows you to compose an email to a contact, or insert a contact into your current message. If your contacts are managed in Gmail Contacts, you can also export them to the Address Book to have all your contacts in one place.

Media Browser

The Media browser lets you browse iPhoto, iTunes, movies, or a browser link, and drag it to an email message. Suppose you have a picture of your kid's birthday in iPhoto, just drag his frosting-covered grin to an email and send it off to the grandparents. Mailplane optimizes your photo and sends it.


Mailplane Media Browser

If you have ever hunted for an attachment you downloaded, the Download button is for you. When you click the button, a window opens listing all recent downloads and the path to the download folder. A Reveal button will take you right to the files, so no more hunting for files attached to a message.

Gmail recently added their Priority Inbox, which is a way to sort your most important messages, so you can read and respond to those messages first. Mailplane supports Priority Inbox so you can get to the important messages first. Another popular feature Mailplane supports is Offline Mail using Google Gears.


Mailplane and Gmail Priority Inbox

Third Party Plug-ins

Mailplane includes a third party plug-in, Rapportive. This plug-in displays an overview of the message sender's online profile based on social media sites such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and others. The information displays on the right of the window where ads usually appear. Rapportive displays the information it gathers from public sources and if you wish to change your information, click on the information you wish to edit and a Remove/Edit menu appears that allows you to edit the information. Mailplane also offers a free OmniFocus plugin, if you use The Omni Group program to manage tasks and to-do lists.

You might wonder why anyone would pay for an email client, when you can access Gmail from any browser, but this is a feature-rich program. The features to login to multiple accounts, new mail notification sounds, access to the Mail Address Book, optimizing photos are just a few of the features I like. A handy list comparing Gmail in a web browser and Mailplane exists on uncomplex's web site and makes it clear that Mailplane offers more than Gmail in a browser.

Mailplane 2.2.1 runs on Mac OSX 10.4 or higher, uses 15MB of disk space, and is PPC compatible. You can download a 30-day free trial from the site. It only costs $24.95 to obtain a license and unlock Mailplane.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor