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For years I couldn’t find a suitable alternative to Apple’s Mail. Each time I tried a new application I eventually returned to Mail; that is, until I started using Spark.
Spark includes features like snooze emails, signature and email templates, reminders, and the ability to collaborate with a team of other Spark users.
While there are features in Mail that are not present in Spark, such as advance smart rules, I still prefer Spark for it modern design and keyboard shortcuts, which I trigger using BetterTouchTool and Keyboard Maestro.
Spark Automation Features
Spark contains dozens of great features, but in this article I mainly highlight its nifty automation and shortcut features that save mouse clicking and help with productivity.
When I used Apple Mail, I also paid a subscription to SaneBox, because I wanted a way to snooze important emails for a later time or day. Spark’s snooze feature enabled me to end my SaneBox subscription.
The snooze feature doesn’t require a complicated set up, or the need to send emails to special email addresses for snoozing. Just trigger the Snooze keyboard shortcut and up pops a window to select a day and time when you want the selected email to automatically appear back in your inbox.
You can set your default Snooze days and times in Spark’s preferences > Scheduling. The Snooze feature also acts a reminder for upcoming online events or things you want to get done. Being able to snooze my emails means I can process my emails faster and not worry about remembering to following up particular emails. This feature should already be in Apple’s Mail.
Mail and Signature Templates
Another subscription-saving feature in Spark is the ability to create HTML signatures, email templates, and quick replies.
Though there several services for creating and using graphic email signatures, all the services I know about our subscription-based. We should haven’t to pay extra for such a feature.
You can easily create multiple one or two line signatures for each of your different email addresses, but HTML signatures can include an image, and links to your website or social media pages. HTML signatures can’t be created in Spark, but the developers provide instructions for creating HTML signatures using other online services and then copying and pasting the HTML code into a Spark signature template, found in Spark preferences. Note: I used this free HubSpot signature generator to create my graphic signatures.
Similarly, you can also create email templates and what’s called Quick Reply messages in Spark. I have a few email templates for people who write and ask me to review their app or write a guest blog post. I use a template to reply to their queries and customize a template message as needed.
But even better is Spark’s Quick Reply feature. You know how you sometimes type quick replies to a personal email, to simply say, “Awesome, thank you,” “Thanks, I got it,” or “Sorry, I can’t make it.”? Well with Spark, you can set up multiple quick replies, and when select one of them, the reply automatically gets sent in a reply email to the recipient.
Spark includes a set of basic quick replies, but you will want to create the kind of responses that fit your needs and writing style. When I found myself typing a quick reply, I added it to my Quick Reply library to use again later. I of course can’t use a quick reply with all emails, but it’s a handy feature for occasions when it’s applicable.
Other Spark Features
Besides the features you find in most email clients, such as mailbox folders, a spam folder, and the ability to add multiple email accounts, Spark actually includes a built-in calendar which makes it easier to add calendar events without opening Apple’s Calendar.
There’s also a feature for sending emails out at a later time or date. Your computer has to be awake to send saved emails, but this feature is handy if you don’t want to send an email late at night, or don’t want to forget to send an email the following day.
Similarly, you can add a reminder to a personal email to let you know if the recipient hasn’t emailed you back. I often forget to use this feature, but it’s great to know it’s there.
As I do with all the applications I regularly use, I have created several BetterTouchTool finger gesture triggers for Spark that save me the trouble of punching keyboard shortcuts.
Move To Folder Shortcut
For example, as with all email clients, Spark allows you to move email messages to another folder. What’s better about Spark’s version of moving emails to folders is that you can trigger a shortcut in which a folders window pops up so that you can select the folder you want to move the selected email to.
I use a BetterTouchTool Spread with Thumb and 2 Fingers gesture to trigger the Message > Move menu shortcut to open the folders window.
If Spark recognizes that you have sent previous emails with the same email as the currently selected one, the folder for that email will automatically appear at the top of the folder structure.
I have like 40 or more folders, so the pop-up window is pretty long. And for a while I was using the search box to locate the folder I wanted. But as I was writing this article, I discovered that if you simply type the name of the folder in the pop-up window, Spark will select it, as long as it’s not a child folder.
Because my hand is usually on my trackpad when I’m navigating emails in Spark, BetterTouchTool triggers like this one come in super handy because I don’t have to move my right hand back to my keyboard in order to punch a keyboard shortcut.
Other finger gestures and actions I use:
- 3 Finger Click to send an email to the trash.
- 3 Finger Clickswipe Left to reply to an email.
- 3 Finger Swipe Left to snooze an email.
- 3 Finger Swipe Up to create a new email.
- Single Finger Force Click to open a designated website
- 4 Finger Swipe Up to link an email as a Todoist task
Note: you can change the shortcuts for all of Spark’s main menu items, and you can even change the swiping actions for deleting, moving, snoozing and archiving emails. I don’t use the latter actions because I use BetterTouchTool.
Check out my BetterTouchTool Finger Gesture Course to learn learn all you need to know about using the application.
Keyboard Maestro Trigger
The main Keyboard Maestro automation I use with Spark is a string trigger macro that automatically sends an email after I type the letters “sendm”. I use the string trigger because it’s faster than lifting my fingers off the main keys in order to punch the assigned keyboard shortcut for sending an email.
For individual users, the macOS version of Spark is FREE! So be sure to give the developers some love with a positive comment in the App Store.
So far I have stuck with Spark much longer than I have with any other third-party email client I’ve used. Though I’m sure there may be other email clients out there with a few useful features not found in Spark, I’m dedicated to sticking with Spark.
Spark is beautifully designed with dozens of settings and connected app services including the ability to link or export emails to Todoist, 2Do, Thinks, Bear, OmniFocus, Asana, Zoom, Evernote, and much more.
As you might expect, there’s also the iOS and Apple Watch versions of Spark, and if you’re running macOS Mojave, you can select dark mode.
As great as Spark is, there are a few features that I would actually pay for. They include, the ability to add a note to emails, like you can in a calendar event. Smart rules for filtering emails would also be useful, as well as the ability to tag emails.
If you’re searching for an alternative email client, I highly recommend checking out Spark. And if you’re using different an email client, feel free to write about it in the comment section below and describe why you prefer it over Apple Mail or another email client.
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