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Mac Gems: Inky offers a fresh, human take on email

Nathan Alderman | Feb. 4, 2013
I'd never found an email client that might woo me away from Apple's Mail () until I came across Arcode's free Inky. This cleverly designed app seems built around the way most people use email every day.

From the Settings screen--Inky has no conventional Preferences window--you can turn on Smart Views. Inky will recognize messages from folks in your address book; social networks; daily-deal sites such as Groupon; any messages that offer you the option to unsubscribe; notifications of packages en route to you; notes you've sent to yourself; or messages containing mappable addresses. You can toggle separate views for each of these categories at will. In my tests, this feature worked flawlessly.

Inky also provides relevance rankings. Over time, the program learns which messages you care about most, and can display those at the top of your list. For example, it knows that a message from your parents likely takes priority over a coupon for two-for-one falafels. An accompanying water-drop icon grows more vivid or faint as a message grows or diminishes in relevance. You can also manually tell Inky which messages matter more or less to you, and the program will remember your choices. Right out of the box, Inky did a respectable job of guessing which messages were likely the most important to me.

Inky does its best to lay out all these options in a clear, eye-pleasing manner. Help tags and an initial guided tour help steer you around. Though I didn't instantly grasp every facet of Inky's interface, I rarely suffered more than a few seconds of confusion. Inky has no help system, but the program is well-designed enough to compensate for that omission.

Aside from occasional mild sluggishness in showing a message, my only real complaint about Inky involves its self-promotion. By default, it appends a tiny text ad for itself to all outgoing messages, although you can delete this signature in Settings. It also periodically bugs you to tell your friends about Inky; if you accept, it leads you to a slick, built-in messaging engine that uses your address book. I suppose it's not quite fair to complain about these occasional intrusions, since Arcode's giving Inky away for free.

Inky has no calendar, to-do lists, or other auxiliary features, which likely makes it less than ideal for business use. But its sharp design, smart features, and overall plucky cheerfulness won me over. Mac email users should definitely give this fun, full-featured, and free program a try.


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