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Hands on with Mailbird, a fast, slick, Sparrow-inspired email client for Windows

Ian Paul | April 3, 2013
Windows users pining for a mail client similar to Sparrow for OS X have had their wishes granted courtesy of Mailbird, a new email client for the Windows desktop.

Mailbird's main window is divided into three columns. The far left pane is for navigation with options to view your inbox, starred items, drafts, sent items, the important label, as well as your customized labels. Towards the bottom of the navigation pane you can access Mailbird's Apps menu, which we'll talk about later.

The middle panel includes a list of your messages with the sender's Facebook profile photo (if available), the sender's name in bold, and the message's subject line. Hovering over someone's profile photo or icon reveals a quick action menu with options to archive, reply, forward, label as important, star, mark as unread, mark as spam, and delete. Double-clicking on a contact's icon will initiate a search for all messages from that person, a very nice touch.

You can also use a number of Gmail keyboard shortcuts in Mailbird, including using the j and k keys for moving backward and forward through your message list, or Ctrl + n to start a new message. Gmail's keyboard shortcuts aren't universally supported, though; for example, you can't press g then i to head to your inbox. To view all of Mailbird's keyboard shortcuts, tap the question mark key or click on the main menu.

The larger window to the right of the list pane displays your messages, which Mailbird shows in a Gmail-like collapsed conversation view by default. Unlike Gmail, however, the newest message in Mailbird is shown at the top with previous messages condensed in separate sections below that.

When you have a new message open, the top right corner of the message includes links to reply to the email or view message details such as sender, recipients and so on. There's also a button in the top right that lets you add message labels with just a few clicks.

Composing


Mailbird's compose window: Simplicity at its most simple.

Mailbird's compose window maintains the ethos of simplicity seen in the rest of the app, save for the slightly cheesy airmail strip at the top of the window. You can add attachments with a simple drag-and-drop, or by clicking the attachment icon in the bottom left corner. The app also supports basic features you'd expect in a rich text email editor such as adding links, changing font and background colors, and adjusting font size. Mailbird currently supports five fonts: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, and Verdana.

Apps


Mailbird's calendar view is a straight-up web wrap of Google Calendar.

If you want to take Mailbird's functionality beyond a basic email client, you can add "apps" to increase functionality. Some of these so-called apps include calendars, contacts, and access to Google Drive. The apps section may one day feature third-party apps from developers, but for the beta period the app selection is pretty thin, offering twelve different apps at this writing.

 

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