Review: Sparrow for Mac

Review: Sparrow for Mac

If you’re anything like me, you have plenty of email accounts. I use at least 5 of a daily basis. Traditionally, I have had 2 browsers open, each logged into multiple Gmail accounts, but no more. Sparrow has shown me a new way.

What Is it?

Sparrow aims itself at the Gmail / Google Apps crowd, providing a compelling interface for singular or multiple Gmail accounts. The app is simple enough to use, and provides a wide enough base of features to work for most people.

Ohai Twitter! Or not?

The thing that initially struck me about this app is how much it resembles Twitter – it’s a very beautiful and comfortable to use application. Switching between accounts is as easy as clicking your account’s symbol, and previews pop out from the app as you click on mail messages.

Strengths

What I really appreciated about Sparrow is that it really works well with most all of Gmail’s features – labels work like a charm, message drafts save directly to the source Gmail account, and in general, everything works, and quite well.

The interface is also a significant strength, appearing attractive, but also retaining the core functionality that it needs to drive Gmail and all its features. I also love its simplicity – giving you one simple interface, largely being able to do everything in one single window, and allowing additional options for people that need more.

Not For Everyone

While Sparrow will work very well for most casual users, I feel that the app is not for everyone. It lacks a certain set of features that will prevent me from allow it to replace Gmail’s already excellent web interface. First, there is no spam folder in the utility pane off to the left, although there are panes for starred mail, sent mail, drafts, and trash. It’s not a simple and intuitive process to read through your spam folder, although it is a simple matter to mark a message as spam.

Further, it doesn’t support viewing and editing Gmail’s advanced settings, such as rules, filters, forwarding, and so forth. Since I use these features frequently, and require them to be at hand, I cannot move into a program that does not include interfaces for these functions.

Closing Thoughts

Sparrow is a beautiful, well-designed, and extremely functional app, and I really enjoy the interface, and how well the implemented features function in my favor. I think casual users will find this to be a compelling interface to replace Gmail’s web interface.

To be truly useful for a large segment, however, they need to include better means for viewing other accounts besides Gmail, fuller support, and more advanced features.

Conclusion

While Sparrow won’t be replacing Gmail’s web interface, much less my mail client, I do feel they deserve a nod for their design, for the ease of use, and for the very compelling and friendly nature of their program.

At $9.99, Sparrow (App Store Link) does come at a cost, and many people may not find it worth it when their Mac already comes with an excellent free client (that supports Gmail fairly well), Mail.app.

For more information, visit Sparrow’s website. Sparrow can be through the Mac App Store. I really liked Sparrow, but felt it could do more and incorporate more features. For its merits, I grant it a 4 out of 5.

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