Last week we helped you identify some of the best alternatives for Google Reader. Google has made some significant changes to the Gmail interface in the past few months – all which lineup with their direction towards a more “Google+” type of world.
Google has introduced their new, more simplified interface for Gmail which they have been toying with for a while now. Some people love it. And of course, some people can’t stand it. I tend to be somewhere in the middle because as a geek I usually don’t do too well with change but don’t overreact.
The new Gmail interface is intended to provide the user with a simplified experience. You can even choose how you want your line spacing (“display density”) to be – Comfortable, Cozy, or Compact. And, heck, you can even “temporarily” revert back to the Gmail’s old look.
So, instead of keeping up with Google’s relentless quest to change everything that you are use to in the name of G+ and the word “temporarily” scares you, here are some alternate interfaces (mail clients) you can use with Gmail.
If you are a “won-over” Gmail user and you use a Mac, then Sparrow is probably something you have checked out, if not changed to as your email interface of choice.
Sparrow provides the user with a clean interface as well as all of the awesome Gmail shortcuts that you’ve come to know and love. The thing I like about Sparrow is just how easy it is to setup and use. Just take a peak at the preferences pane and you will find that it isn’t bloated at all.
There is a free trial, but if you want to use it after that it will set you back $9.99 (a small price to pay for native Gmail client perfection on the Mac).
Thunderbird has been around for while and it’s maintained by the Mozilla foundation, the same people that give you Firefox web browser. Thunderbird is a standard IMAP and POP email client that can be setup for just about any email address including your Gmail account.
Thunderbird is free and open source. It’s a decent, simple, and with some of the latest iterations, quite attractive (at least on the Mac). Also, setting up Gmail with Thunderbird is as easy as signing in with your Gmail credentials and then telling Thunderbird to use IMAP. Thunderbird is a cross-platform mail client available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
Ahh, Microsoft Outlook. The one app that I love and hate all at once.
I’m not a Windows user at home but I do use Windows 8 hours a day at work and during that time Outlook is always running. For using simply as a Gmail interface, Outlook may be a tad bit expensive and sort of overkill. But, if you’re on Windows and you want a good integrated experience as well as some nice calendaring and mail rule features, then Microsoft Outlook may be a good application to look at.
There is one thing that I do like about Outlook quite a bit though; you can integrate your email, calendaring, and tasks all in a single app.
Mail.app is the default mail application that ships with the Mac OS X. Since the new Lion 10.7 update, Mail has taken on a new form (a new form that has made some Apple users quite upset). Once again, if you’re an avid Gmail user, you may find some of the new features of Mail make you feel like you’re right at home.
You can archive messages (about time), view messages in conversation form, flag messages, etc. There’s also better searching which was something that Mail has needed for a while. In my opinion, Mail.app for Lion is a great upgrade to that of Mail.app in Snow Leopard.
Another nice thing about Mail.app is that you can use any email settings, not just Gmail.
The Evolution mail client is available for Linux and there is even some builds out there for Mac and Windows (for all you hacker types). This is the email client that was default with Ubuntu, but appears that it has been replaced by Thunderbird mentioned above.
Evolution is simple and has many features that you would come to expect from an email client. Evolution can support IMAP and POP and integrates mail, calendar, address book, to-do lists and memos.
Evolution is open source and of course free.
Opera Mail “ships” with the much loved Opera browser and is super easy to set up to work with Gmail and other email providers.
One thing that I don’t quite like about Opera Mail is that it is integrated into my browsing experience (that is if I used Opera for my default browser). I like to have a clean seperation of my email and everything else.
Regardless, Opera Mail can be used inside of Opera and has offline support, great searching capabilities, a cool “attachments section” that allows you to see all of your attachements in one place, and good folder/label support.
What’s awesome about today’s technology is that we have a bunch of options. This is a good thing, especially when something you use like an email interface can be such a vital part of your workflow. If you are not happy with Gmail’s recent changes or just want a new way of viewing your email, the above email interface options are the best to date.
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