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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Mimestream: A native Mac app with proper Gmail support

Mimestream is a Mac app reminiscent of Apple Mail, but it uses the Gmail API.

I’ve been using Mailplane as my email client for something like a decade. Unfortunately, back in June the makers of Mailplane announced that they were letting the app die due to Google banning embedded browsers from Gmail.

I mourned, of course. My frustrations with Apple Mail had driven me to Gmail, and Mailplane was the perfect way to use Gmail on a Mac—in a separate app, with Mac keyboard shortcuts and drag-and-drop support and everything else, while still keeping the speed and efficience of the Gmail web interface.

I went through the stages, as you do. I tried to run Gmail in a single-site browser. It didn’t really take. I opened Apple Mail and… nope. It doesn’t work the way I want my email to work, and it’s inconsistent and slow in just too many ways. I’m not going back to that relationship.

Instead, I found Mimestream, by former Apple Mail engineer Neil Jhaveri. It’s a dedicated Gmail client app for the Mac that’s more app-like than Mailplane, while keeping the consistency and speed that Gmail offers over Apple Mail. I’ve been using it for a couple of months and I fully intend to pay for it when it emerges from beta testing. (You can sign up at the Mimestream website to request beta access.)

Mimestream will look familiar to anyone who has used Apple Mail—it’s got a multi-column design with mailboxes on the left, a message list in the center, and message content on the right. (And yes, you can close off the message preview if you prefer to open messages in their own windows.)

Most importantly, it uses Gmail’s API (not IMAP) to quickly display and archive mail, and to efficiently search my mail repository. Gmail has some specific quirks—most notably the difference between archiving a message and deleting it—that Mimestream understands innately. It also supports Gmail’s priority Inbox system, though I instead use a series of Gmail tags created by SaneBox. (Disclosure: SaneBox is a former sponsor.)

The app is written in Swift and feels like a real, native Mac app. Jhaveri says “Email is my passion,” and I wouldn’t stand in the way of anyone who feels passionately about something. I’m glad he’s someone who gets why people would use Gmail and want a Mac app dedicated to it—because I’m that person. Jhaveri also says he’s planning an iOS version, and I’d be interested in that, too.

If you’re like me—a Gmail user who wants a real Mac app, and ideally one that’s a better fit to Gmail than Apple Mail—I strongly recommend that you try Mimestream.

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