OS X Mail 9 — Mac Email Program

MacBook, iMac, and iPad on desk
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What We Like
  • OS X Mail lets you manage mail with efficiency and comfort

  • You can send files up to 5 GB easily using Mail Drop, an iCloud service

  • OS X Mail includes fast search, smart folders and enticing stationery

What We Don't Like
  • OS X Mail does not offer rules or smart folders that learn from example and action

  • Flexible message templates and truly free-form labeling are missing from OS X Mail

  • OS X Mail's smart folders could offer more criteria (message categories, for example)

Mail is the solid, powerful and easy to use email program built into OS X.

While OS X Mail's smart spam filter gets rid of practically all junk mail, the fast and precise search and smart folders make finding and managing good mail a snap. The auto-populating folders could be even smarter, however, and support more filtering criteria.


  • OS X Mail lets you manage multiple POP, IMAP, Exchange, and iCloud Mail email accounts.
  • You can send plain or rich text messages, using stationery as a starting point if you wish. Text substitution inserts snippets fast.
  • Spotlight-powered search finds mail and attached files fast, and smart folders automatically collect relevant messages.
  • Conversation view collects messages that belong together and hides superfluous text (e.g., signatures or quoted passages).
  • OS X Mail lets you send regular attachments (where you can easily annotate images and PDF files and perform quick edits) but also integrates an iCloud service called Mail Drop that seamlessly delivers files up to 5 GB in size.
  • Incoming mail filters can organize and color-code messages for you, send automatic replies, and more. A VIPs folder automatically collects messages from key senders.
  • OS X Mail also includes adaptive (Bayesian) spam filtering that moves spam out of the way effectively on the computer level in addition to what happens at the server.
  • Integration with Notification Center offers desktop alerts and a history of notifications; you can choose the kind of mail to trigger alerts.
  • Mail detects phone numbers, addresses, and other data automatically and offers to show maps or use contact information for address book entries.
  • Support for S/MIME email security lets you sign and encrypt messages in Mail, and parental controls allow you to restrict with whom a Mac OS X Mail user can correspond.
  • Using iCloud, Mail settings, rules, and smart folders are synchronized across computers; text snippets synchronize with iOS as well.
  • OS X Mail supports OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

Expert Review of the OS X Mail 9 Email Program

Most operating systems come with at least one email program. So does OS X, and Apple has done a great job.

All the Accounts You Need and Search to Find Mail in Them

OS X Mail sports a clean, easy to use interface to its powerful features. With great support for multiple POP, IMAP, Exchange and iCloud accounts, versatile mail filters, and a smart conversation view, Mail is flexible enough for most needs.

Additionally, Mail comes with an email program's two essential features: a smart spam filter that learns from your decisions and fast search that allows you to locate any email in seconds, no matter which folder it is in. Keyboard shortcuts abound, and make accessing oft-used folders and filing messages to them a snap, for example.

Smart Folders and Colorful Labels

Virtual folders that automatically show you all mail matching certain criteria or searches make life with OS X Mail even more comfortable and streamlined. It would be great if more criteria were available for these smart folders, though, or if they could learn from example like the junk mail filter.

To organize your mail flexibly, you can use flags (using colors and custom titles) in addition to folders and smart folders. It's a pity there are just 7, though, and only one can be applied to each message.

Help With Writing Rich Emails and Sending Big Files

Of course, you can read richly formatted emails properly and securely in Mail, and compose with comfort and style, too. For graphically rich messages, choose from enticing stationery or create your own. Unfortunately, you cannot use stationery for replies or create templates that adapt to the original message.

System-wide text substitution inserts text snippets swiftly, though, and OS X Mail has special treats in store for attachments. You can make quick adjustments to images you send and annotate or edit PDF files (including adding your handwritten signature); if files are too large to be sent reliably as traditional attachments, Mail Drop, a free iCloud service, delivers them seamlessly as downloads available to all recipients.

Together with Keychain Access, which offers quite flexible and comfortable certificate management, OS X Mail makes it easy to digitally sign and encrypt email messages using S/MIME, and OpenPGP support can be added with an add-on.

(Updated October 2015)