The perfect email app is a bit of a unicorn. Countless companies and startups have tried, and many have failed, to perfect the inbox experience and make peace with email and its soul-crushing inevitability in our modern digital lives. The goal is to make email feel manageable or, at the very least, to give you a pretty piece of mobile or desktop software you enjoy using. We may never achieve a sense of perfection when it comes to email, but many services come close.
On desktop, there’s lots of great options, from the esteemed Airmail on Mac, which costs $9.99, to the Google Inbox-like Spark. For the longest time, I had settled for the free app WMail, which takes the standard web Gmail experience and wrapped it up as a pleasant-looking piece of standalone Mac software.
Similar to how Slack, Spotify, and many other companies develop desktop apps, WMail is built using GitHub’s Electron framework and powered using Chromium, the open source foundation behind Google Chrome. Effectively, these tools allow developers to take web apps and transform them into standalone desktop ones that function in identical ways, but with a few added bits of visual flair and functionality.
In March, the team behind WMail rebranded its app as Wavebox, a new fully-featured email and productivity app that goes well beyond the original idea of an email client. In fact, after using Wavebox for no more than 10 minutes after I first downloaded it earlier this week, I was confident in saying its the most powerful email app for Mac I’ve ever used. It’s available now for free (there are Windows and Linux versions as well), but the company behind it sells a $19.95 annual pro subscription for access to things like unlimited accounts and third-party app integrations.
Wavebox functions very much like its WMail predecessor — it too is built on Chromium and Electron. It lets you add a Gmail account, and then replicates all the very same settings you have on the web versions, including keyboard shortcuts, labels, and so on. It even lets you designate an account as an Inbox one, so you can use Google’s sleek design on, say, your personal email account while keeping the standard web Gmail look for your work one.
Where Wavebox goes above and beyond, however, is its integrations. Where WMail supported only Gmail accounts, Wavebox supports all Google Apps services, productivity service Trello, team comms app Slack, Microsoft Outlook accounts, and Office 365 apps. It even has an option to load any website whatsoever as its own tab within the app. After some minor customization, I set up Wavebox with my work email, calendar, and Google Drive; my personal email, calendar, and Google Photos; my company Trello account; my company Slack channel; and a dedicated tab for The Verge’s homepage. I can even edit Google Doc files right within the app window.
I will concede that Wavebox feels almost tailor-made for my personal work and life setup. We here at The Verge use Trello for tracking projects, communicate over Slack, and use Google Cloud / G Suite for all of our email and web app needs. Though there is support for Windows apps now, I can see why some people’s workflows might not mesh well with what Wavebox has to offer.
And to be fair, this isn’t a minimalist and uncluttered email app — far from it. If you want something a bit more minimal, Airmail is probably your best bet, but I’d also highly recommend the free web app Mailplane, especially if you want the same web Gmail experience replicated as a lightweight Mac app.
But if you’re looking for a robust, multi-purpose email app that can handle a dizzying number of different services, there’s nothing better out there than Wavebox.