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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Mac Gmail client Mimestream reaches 1.0

Mimestream 1.0

A couple of years ago, my favorite Mac email app—the Gmail web wrapper app Mailplane—was discontinued. After an appropriate period of mourning (which included using Apple Mail regularly for the first time in years), I was desperate for an email app that worked the way I wanted it to.

And the solution presented itself! Neil Jhaveri, who previously worked on the engineering team for Apple Mail itself, founded a company to build a new email app: Mimestream. After a few years in open beta development, on Monday Mimestream 1.0 was officially released.

If you don’t use Gmail as your mail service or need to use the same app across Mac and iOS, Mimestream isn’t for you—yet. I asked Jhaveri what he meant when he said the company will be “turning its attention a bit broader” in the future, and he told me that while the company needed to focus in order to launch a compelling new app, “our mission is to just be the best general-purpose prosumer email client on the market.” That will take time, and the next step is probably an iOS version.

As for support for IMAP email services, it’s also on Mimestream’s to-do list, but right now the app shines because it is a Gmail client through and through, so adding support for the very different IMAP metaphor will need to be done with a lot of care. I do think the app should definitely expand its remit, because it’s very good. But as someone whose top priority was a better Gmail app on macOS, Mimestream was a perfect fit for me on day one—or, technically, two years before day one.

If you’re a Gmail user, Mimestream will be a revelation. Since it was built from the ground up to understand Google’s approach to email, it doesn’t suffer from the weird workarounds required to map an IMAP protocol metaphor onto Gmail’s particular quirks. Instead, it behaves… like Gmail. But in a pure, Swift-driven Mac app.

Most importantly, it uses Gmail’s API to efficiently search my entire Gmail repository. Searching Gmail in Apple Mail frustrates me with its inconsistent and slow behavior, but Mimestream just works. Labels, Inbox categories, server-side filters… it’s got them all.

The app will look completely 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.)

With version 1.0, Jhaveri and the rest of his team have imported a few features that haven’t appeared before during the app’s lengthy beta, including better multi-account support via a “profiles” system that lets you place multiple accounts into different buckets. Profiles can be toggled on and off using Apple’s Focus Filters feature. Google’s Vacation Responder system is now available directly in the app’s interface.

Don’t let the version 1.0 label scare you. I’ve been relying on Mimestream as my Mac email app for two years, and it hasn’t ever let me down. This is probably the most mature version 1.0 release I’ve ever seen.

The biggest change in going to version 1.0 is that, after two years of using an in-progress email app for free, it’s time for Mimestream to become a real app—with real money changing hands. The app is available as a $5 monthly subscription or a $50 annual subscription. (There’s a 40% discount offer for year one available for the next few weeks.)

As with any productivity app, you’ll need to decide if the price matches your needs. (Mimestream has a page explaining their pricing decision.) Apple Mail is free. Gmail in a browser window is free. But after two years with Mimestream, I couldn’t put down my credit card fast enough.

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