Managing emails has never been easy, and over the years I’ve switched and used a half dozen mail clients to make processing emails easier and less time-consuming. No doubt, I’ll try a few more mail clients as they get released, but for now I think the new 3.0 version of Spark is a fresh application that I look forward to using.
What is Spark 3.0 Mail Client?
A few years ago, I started using Spark 2.0 (reviewed here) because it contains features I couldn’t find in Apple Mail. Those features included
- The ability to snooze emails
- Canned quick email replies and templates
- The filtering of newsletters and personal emails
- A built-in calendar
- A option to pin emails
- And dark mode
After maybe a year with Spark, I started using Spike Mail because of its cleaner user interface and ability to hide Read emails, an essential feature in my view.
But the other day, I downloaded Spark 3.0 and was instantly engaged. Upon opening it, I could immediately see its redesign. The new version contains a clean user interface and features, encouraging users to spend less time managing emails.
Spark 3.0 contains many of the features in 2.0, but some features, like dark mode, quick replies, and two-column view, are not in the new version, yet. Note: version 2.0 is still available and will be supported until Readdle, the developers, think that version 3 reaches “feature parity with the Original Spark on Mac.”
Readdle lists goals for 3.0, but I’m most impressed by its current features.
New Smart Inbox
This feature separates newsletter and notification emails from personal emails, which makes it easier to process them.
Accept or Block
When you receive an email from a new sender or email address, you can choose to Block or Accept future emails (see above screenshot) from that address.
Spark provides four ways to sort and manage emails:
- Done: when you mark an email as Done, it gets marked as read, i.e. archived. It’s still available for review and search, but it’s hidden from the Inbox. I especially like that Done emails get put into a Hidden session which helps keep my Inbox clean.
- Set Aside or Pin: Set aside emails show up as buttons on the bottom-left of the Inbox, waiting for your to review later. You can also pin emails for later review.
- Snooze: Snoozed emails will reappear in your Inbox until you’re ready to see them again. Spark provides some preset days and times for snoozing, or you can choose a specific day and time.
- Priority: Emails marked as priority get placed at the top of your Inbox to get the attention they need.
Pleasant Home Screen
The most significant change in 3.0 is the welcome Home Screen. This feature aims to greet you with a clutter-less email experience and encourage you to check your email during your scheduled times of the day.
My scheduled times are 11 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm. Though I also get Spark email notifications on my phone, I check emails on my desktop about three or four times a day, according to my schedule. However, with enough practice and focus I could get that number down to two times a day.
As you can see in the above screenshot, you can also process unread emails without opening the Inbox; however, when the clear emails from the home screen they still appear in your Inbox. It would be great if you can mark delete or mark emails as Done right from the Home Screen.
Other Useful Features
- Groups: you can select to have Spark group your email by Notifications, Newsletters and Pinned, or you can have them presented chronologically
- Colored-coded Accounts: you can color-code email accounts to recognize them easily.
- Signatures: You can create multiple signatures and assign a default signature for each account. You can also change the signature in the Compose editor. Spark accepts HTML signatures.
- Compose Emails: you can compose new emails from the Home Screen or in the Inbox. Spark provides a clean service for writing; however, I wish the font size could be increased for reading and writing emails.
Spark’s search feature is excellent, so I shouldn’t have to worry too much about labeling and filing emails. I especially like how recent searches are saved for reuse. I can, for example, click the saved Zoom search and quickly get a list of Zoom meeting emails.
Readdle is working on adding features, like Dark Mode, Email Templates, and Quick Replies, that exists in its legacy version. But I think the main goal is to keep the email experience clean without distractions.
Some users complain the Sidebar is hidden and there’s no option to keep it open. Frankly, I haven’t opened the sidebar much. I don’t waste time sorting emails into a folder or labeling them if I don’t have to. I keep separate email accounts for clients and three other accounts for personal, blogging, and organizations.
Shortcuts and Navigating Spark
As with other well-developed applications, Spark contains keyboard shortcuts for all its features.
Some shortcuts, such as Delete, R for Reply, and S for Snooze, are easy to remember, while others are not, like G for Set Aside and E for Accept and Done.
Another way to perform actions on emails is to use Spark’s Command Center. Pressing ⌘+K or clicking on the three vertical dots on the right side of an email will bring up a list of actions for a selected email. This way, you can quickly delete, reply to, or forward emails without ever having to open them.
BetterTouchTool Finger Gestures
If you follow this site, you know I use BetterTouchTool finger gestures for all my desktop applications.
Because my right hand is mostly on my Magic trackpad while perusing emails, I can use finger gestures to delete, archive or snooze individual emails and quickly return to the Inbox or Home Screen.
If you don’t know about BetterTouchTool, check out my introductory article.
Why I’m Switching to Spark 3.0
I’ve highlighted the features I like about Spark, and some of them should make it clear why I’m switching to the new version.
But I’m also making the switch because I agree with the general philosophy and concept of Spark 3.0. Because I spend some much time on my computer throughout the day, a clean and appealing user interface of an application is essential as the features and actions an application can perform.
As a website designer and someone who admires minimal design, I find Spark attractive and minimalistic, which means less clutter in my computer experience.
The Spark developers explain the reason for the redesign:
Our aim with the new Spark was to hone your focus, and protect your attention, which is why certain design choices were made – such as a hidden navigation bar and a single pane email window. Please read more about the thinking behind the new Spark here.
Spark and similar mail clients look outdated and intrusive in the three-column version. I feel I’m doing more work in thems than I have to.
Readdle wants users to manage email with less clutter, and I appreciate what they are trying to do.
I look forward to the features Readdle is developing or adding into Spark 3.0, but the existing features are enough for me to pay the premium subscription for Spark.
Let me know what you think of Spark 3.0. You can download it for a seven-day trial and keep using its core features for free.
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