Postbox 2 Email Client Review (Windows & Mac OS X)Written by John Thompson on February 5, 2011 · Filed under Review, Software
If there’s one thing that we have an abundance of in the world, it’s e-mail clients. There’s Apple’s built in Mail application, Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird… the list goes on, so when a company enters the market with a client that costs $39.95 (approx. £25 at the time of writing), how does it compete with its rivals?
Postbox is actually based upon Mozilla Thunderbird, but it packs in a lot of additional features that are nowhere to be seen in its free counterpart. When you first launch Postbox, you will be greeted by a setup wizard that guides you through the setup of your email account. You can, of course, choose to connect through either POP or IMAP, and for most popular providers, this will be a mostly automated and pain-free process.
When I first took a look at Postbox, I was dubious over whether it could match up to its hefty price tag. After all, it’s difficult enough to sell software in the first place, but when there are so many free alternatives it could be a nightmare for the developers.
The application prides itself on many power-user features that help you to become more efficient and productive when managing your email, but how much more productive can an email client be? Actually, more so than you may think.
Working at Zath, I have many conversations with a large number of developers and other organisations. When using clients such as Mail and Thunderbird, I’d often find myself with a dozen windows open filtering and responding to e-mails right, left and centre. Needless to say, you can get lost in this stuff pretty quickly. One of the first features I discovered in Postbox was the ability to quickly reply to an email without entering another window, or leaving the main screen at all.
The quick reply button is located on the header of the email, next to information about the sender. Simply click it, type your response, and voila! Your response is sent without you having to leave the screen. It’s such a simple feature, but it makes the world of difference when faced with lots of emails.
As well as offering threaded email, Postbox also gives you an easy to read, conversation style view of your correspondence. If you’re working with someone, and need to refer back to something, using the conversation view means that you can easily keep track of what’s going on. The only complaint I have about this feature is that emails are threaded by subject, so if I was to send an email with a subject of “Zath”, I may end up with a separate thread for “Re: Zath”, which confuses things a little. It didn’t happen with my emails often, but more than enough for me to notice, so this is something that the developers may want to work on improving in the future.
Moreover, Postbox also comes with a powerful search tool built in to the application. Whereas most clients allow you to search just for emails in your account, Postbox has separate search functions for not only email, but also for images, attachments and to-dos.
Being sent a lot of press releases every day, I’m normally looking all over for attached images from an email that I received a few days ago, but when using Postbox, I can simply run a search for images with a certain title and any relevant photos which match my search will be shown in a great looking grid format. In the Mac OS X version of Postbox which I tested, these photos could then be opened with Quick Look, or even exported to iPhoto so that you can manage them anyway that you want.
For most people, a free email client is all that they need. They want to check their email, respond, and delete. Simple. For power-users, however, sometimes the features offered in Thunderbird or Mail aren’t enough, and after using Postbox for myself I can certainly say that I could never go back to using a free client I’ve previously tried out. Some of the advanced features, such as image and attachment searching make my life infinitely easier, and if you’re dealing with dozens of emails every day, Postbox may just be the best $40 you’ll ever spend.