Review: Sparrow

A shiny new Mail client for OS X has been making the rounds recently — Sparrow for Mac.

Sparrow first caught a lot of attention last year when the initial public beta was released. I have to admit, I was quite skeptical after a first look: it seemed like a weird rip-off of Tweetie for Mac combined with everything I disliked about the Gmail web interface.

But the final 1.0 release has really won me over. Sparrow gets rid of the visual clutter caused by lists of folders, unread count badges etc. and puts your email front and center.

Thanks to its robust support for Gmail’s ‘labels that kind of work like folders’ system, label-fans as well as users that prefer a more traditional organization with folders will feel right at home.

The quick reply feature shows a small reply box just above a message, instead of opening a new window. By encouraging users to bang out quick one and two line replies, I found myself clearing emails from my inbox faster and getting distractions out of the way.
 
I currently use Sparrow for all of my private and blog emails, however for work emails I currently still rely on Mail.app. Part of the reason that Sparrow works so well is probably because so much of the heavy lifting is taken care of by Gmail: It has all my filters, labels, aliases all set up. It’ll be interesting to see how well Sparrow fares with regular IMAP accounts that require the email client app to offer more in terms of email management.

Likes

– Clean, no-fuss interface
– Encourages quick, immediate replies
– Growl integration
– Support for multiple Gmail aliases

Caveats

– Only supports Gmail accounts at the moment (although full IMAP support is promised for March)
– “Missing” features such as automatic image resizing, client-side filtering, multiple signatures, etc. (could also be seen as a feature)

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a full-featured, kitchen-sink type email client, Sparrow probably isn’t for you. But if you want something to use with Gmail, that gets out of the way and lets you get your inbox cleaned up, Sparrow is definitely worth checking out! The Sparrow development blog also has more information on the future feature roadmap, including support for non-Gmail accounts.