Mailbird Review: Pros and Cons - Free Windows Email Program

What is Mailbird?

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The Bottom Line

Mailbird offers a solid and reasonably productive email experience for all your accounts in one place.
While Mailbird is extensible with “apps”, these usually do not integrate well, and email handling itself can feel limited to the basics.

Pros

  • Mailbird supports multiple accounts and identities very well (including unified folders)
  • You can postpone emails easily
  • Basic email handling is particularly fast

    Cons

    • Mailbird does not offer filters or other tools for automation such as suggested replies or folders for filing
    • Key emails are not identified smartly
    • Search is fast and convenient in Mailbird, but more criteria and focusing options would be nice

    Description

    • Mailbird manages mail for multiple IMAP and POP email accounts. (The free version is limited to 3 accounts.)
    • If you have more than one account configured, Mailbird consolidates standard folders into unified inboxes, draft and sent folders, etc. (All accounts are still accessible individually.)
    • For each account, you can create multiple sending identities with specific From: and Reply-To: headers and signatures as well as, optionally, outgoing SMTP server settings.
    • Each sending address can have its own signature, but signatures are also tied to addresses. You cannot set up a default signature across accounts easily, for example, or pick from a list of signatures when composing.
    • You can set up a delay for sending, allowing you to cancel final delivery for, say, 5 seconds after you click "Send".
    • A "Send and Archive" command sends your reply and archives the conversation all in one step.
    • Mailbird lets you postpone messages conveniently; they will be moved fro the inbox to a "Snoozed" folder, from which Mailbird returns them to your inbox's top automatically at the desired time.
      (A new message in the conversation will move it back to the inbox, too. Mailbird must be running for snoozed messages to be moved back, though on IMAP accounts they are always accessible in the "Snoozed" folder.)
    • For Gmail accounts, Mailbird supports labels, and for other accounts mimics them using folders (and copying messages by default instead of moving them).
    • Mailbird lets you compose emails using rich text formatting (and sends a plain text version, too).
    • For in-line replies (where your answers are interspersed with the indented text from the original message), Mailbird can precede your comments with your name to make them stand out and connected to you.
    • Emails are grouped by conversation naturally, and you can have emails zoomed to a comfortable reading size automatically.
    • A speed reading mode shows you an email’s text word by word in rapid progression.
    • You can operate Mailbird using its own keyboard shortcuts or a set adopted from Gmail's keyboard shortcuts; touch screen support lets you perform certain actions by swiping.
    • Swift search across all folders and accounts returns results fast, and you can find messages from the same sender with a handy shortcut.
    • Integration with Dropbox makes it easy to share files, and an attachments browser lets you search attached files by name.
    • Mailbird does include a “Contacts” app that lets you manage an address book locally; while you can import addresses, Contacts does not synchronize with the Gmail address book, for example, and you cannot create groups for addressing multiple people easily.
    • Set up Google Calendar or Sunrise ​(now integrated into Oulook) to access their web-based calendaring applications right inside Mailbird.
    • More applications available to extend Mailbird include Unroll.me, FollowUp.cc, WhatsApp, Facebook and Veeting Rooms.

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    Expert Review - Mailbird 2

    It was Twitter, I fathom, that made birds popular as representatives of messaging. Sparrow applied some of its desktop ideas and interface to email under OS X. Mailbird, finally, brought some of Sparrow’s interface and approach to Windows.

    Mailbird is more than that, of course; its roots do show, though.

    Productive Simplicity

    Handling email means reading messages, replying, and writing new messages… sometimes.

    Often, handling email means deleting and archiving, repeatedly as a matter of course and, it is to be hoped, rapidly.

    In Mailbird, choices abound to take quick action on emails. You can open an email and use its toolbar, of course, or employ a keyboard shortcut; you can also position the mouse cursor over the message in but the list, though, and use a toolbar that opens right there; if your screen allows you to touch it with effect, you can also swipe gently (or vigorously) to delete and archive, a rapid habit we learned on our phones.

    When you do reply, Mailbird offers either a quick reply pane above the current message or the full compose window, both reasonably simple and fast to employ for swift replies that are just to the point.

    So, Mailbird is equipped to help you get the basic things done swiftly. What, though, if there is nothing you can do now?

    Postponing Emails

    Then you just “do” something else in Mailbird: you postpone.

    Snoozing emails is easy with a few suggested times (later today, next week,…) and, of course, the option to pick the time until which you want to postpone the message.

    When that time has come, Mailbird automatically returns the snoozed email to the inbox’s top—provided it is running. If it is not, the email will pop back the next time you open it, and you can always find all postponed emails in a “Snoozed” folder, also accessible via IMAP.

    Email Folders in Mailbird

    Speaking of folders, Mailbird manages them in a near-exemplary way: when you set up an account, Mailbird will use or set up folders for archiving, drafts, sent mail etc., but you also get to access any custom folders for IMAP accounts, of course.

    In daily use, folders (other than the one used for archiving) operate much like labels: copying is the default action, and you can assign colors to folders for quick identification in the message list (and with messages themselves, where folders appear as tags).

    Naturally, you can also move messages—though this takes a few clicks more. If you use the keyboard, remember to press V, and be delighted with how Mailbird lets you search folder names quickly when moving or copying.

    Email Services and Account Support

    Folders are not the only thing that works just as you’d expect with IMAP accounts in Mailbird. Setting them up, be it Gmail, iCloud Mail, Outlook.com, AOL or any other service, Mailbird will try to find the best way to connect and log on (including, for instance, OAUTH 2 for Gmail).

    If you want to use more than one address with any account, Mailbird lets you set up any number of identities. For each, you get to choose whether you want to send through the main account’s SMTP server or one custom to the address (to avoid delivery problems).

    Of course, Mailbird supports full encryption of your email data from and to the mail server.

    In addition to IMAP, Mailbird will let you set up accounts using the simpler POP—downloading new messages and managing folders on the computer alone.

    Either way, all accounts intelligently contribute to a unified folder system: Mailbird then collects all messages from your accounts’ inboxes in a merged inbox, sent mail in a common “Sent” folder etc. Access to individual accounts is still fast, and custom account icons help you spot the right ones with ease.

    Email Signatures

    Each address you set up for sending—either as a full account or an additional identity—can have its own signature in Mailbird.

    Unfortunately, using the same signature for more than one address involves copying and pasting, and more signatures or picking when sending is not an option.

    The signatures themselves can be made just to suit you with rich-text editing and access to the HTML source.

    Composing Messages in Mailbird

    Except for HTML source editing, the editor for composing messages in Mailbird offers the same rich editing capabilities. For replies, Mailbird lets you write your reply on top of the original email, like most email programs do these days, but you can also insert your comments and answers inline into the quoted text; Mailbird then sets your reply blocks apart with a color by default and precedes them with your name.

    For sending files, Mailbird lets you attach them conventionally from your computer, of course. Integration with Dropbox also makes it easy to insert links to documents you uploaded to the online drive and file sharing service, however.

    Extending Mailbird with "Apps"

    Speaking of integration, extension and apps: Mailbird claims to be extensible with all kinds of services and applications—from calendars such as Google Calendar and Sunrise to task managers including Todoist and Moo.do to chat and video conferencing services such as WhatsApp and Veeting Rooms.

    Unfortunately, most of these applications are nothing but web services running inside Mailbird. Integration is minimal or nonexistent. You can drag emails to Moo.do, for example, and drop photos onto WhatsApp, but this is about it.

    Convenient (Gmail) Hacks in Mailbird

    Back at Mailbird proper, we are, thankfully, back at things and buttons to help make email easier, faster and safer.

    You can get a "Send and Archive" button (and keyboard shortcut) like Gmail's, for instance—for every account—, and a delivery delay lets you undo a sending mistake.

    Mailbird cannot, and here we are back at missed opportunities, schedule emails for later or recurrence, though.

    If you fancy help with your speedy reading, Mailbird can pick just the text for any email and flash it before your eyes word by word without much distraction. Possibly more effectual is the option to have emails zoomed to a legible size automatically.

    Searching and More Assistance

    Searching for emails is reasonably fast and useful in Mailbird, and a handy shortcut turns up all emails exchanged with a sender just about instantly.

    More search and sorting options would be nice, though, and smart, searching folders convenient.

    Mailbird also does not suggest search terms—or much anything else except recipients. It does not have reply suggestions or snippets, for instance, and you cannot set up email templates in Mailbird.

    For received emails, Mailbird does not suggest labels or folders and does not help identify key messages. More basically, you cannot even set up simple filters; Mailbird is really best used with an IMAP email account that does these things (and proper spam filtering) on the server.

    (Updated May 2016)

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