Over the years, the Mac has played host to two weirdly contradictory trends: it has had the nicest, best designed text editors in the world but also some of the worst email apps. Until now, no one had really designed a Mac mail client with the minimalist purity of its dedicated word processors. But CloudMagic, already a popular iOS email app, has arrived on the Mac this month and it’s finally bridging that gap in quality. The Mac’s newest email app is also my new favorite.
The things that make any writing application successful are consistent and predictable. You prefer clarity over clutter, intuitiveness over irritation, and speed over sluggishness. On each of those sliding scales, CloudMagic’s Mac app veers strongly to the positive side. Its interface is almost chromeless, with only the most essential menu buttons on screen. Content is king here, and the way CloudMagic renders emails is impeccably clean and speedy. It’s not just text either, as it handles photos, PDFs, and document files with aplomb as well. I’m a longtime user of Google’s web Gmail client, but everything just looks prettier and nicer in CloudMagic.
It isn’t iA Writer for email, but it’s damn close
It’s a series of little touches that really makes the difference. When composing an email, I see a pared-down view where all the constituent elements of the composition window are identifiable just by their proportions and design. The email title is bold and enlarged. The body of the message is surrounded by white space, and that sparse, spacious look really helps me clear my mind and focus on what I’m writing. It isn’t iA Writer for email, but it’s damn close.
CloudMagic’s keyboard shortcuts are consistent with common desktop standards — Command and B, I, or U to add formatting, or K to add links, plus arrow keys to move between emails and attachments — and work with unfailing quickness. I can also jump between my various inboxes via the keyboard. Hovering over email titles in the inbox brings up a set of commonly used actions like archiving and deleting, and I can use the space bar to select multiple emails. Once you get accustomed to these most basic, but also essential, functions, CloudMagic becomes an incredibly fast and efficient tool for email triage.
This mail client has everything necessary and nothing superfluous. It doesn’t impose some grand vision of how you should handle your email, which is something many others tend to do. CloudMagic refrains from offering email reminders or adding annoying Read It Later or To-Do folders to the user’s account. It just focuses on the fundamentals and nails them, and that includes the speed of things like new email notifications and in-app search.
The few tweakable settings that CloudMagic provides are still quite handy and assistive. If you have more than one account synced with the app, you can color-code each one and then you’ll see small indicator strips on every incoming email to let you know which account it’s been sent to. Like I say, it’s the little touches. I’d have liked to have more granular control over which of my mail folders should trigger a notification and which shouldn’t — at present the only available setting is a global on/off for notifications per email account — but that’s a minor deficiency in an app that’s otherwise checked all my boxes.
Beautiful, fast, efficient, and universal
Also neat is the ability to set everything up on one device and then transfer all your settings and email credentials over to another via a CloudMagic sign-in. Besides my favored Gmail and Google Apps, the app supports Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, and all IMAP accounts. With the accompanying iOS app being almost as good as Outlook, our favorite iPhone mail app, you can easily entrust all your email to CloudMagic across your Apple devices, and you’d only need to set up your various email sources just once. There’s also an Android version and support for both Android Wear and the Apple Watch. It all makes the CloudMagic name feel rather apt.
I can’t deny being smitten with CloudMagic on the Mac. I’d liked the iOS app previously, but felt it was missing a little bit of polish and refinement to be my favorite on that front. Transitioning to the desktop has been an absolute triumph for the company, which has taken its mobile sensibility and built the best desktop email client I’ve yet used. It’s stripped down with absolute precision, lending a feeling of airy sparseness rather than wasted blank space.
CloudMagic has earned a spot on my list of essential apps. It receives email really quickly, allows you to respond to it really quickly, and it looks great while doing it. The company describes its eponymous product as "the email app that's simple, beautiful & blazing fast," and I wholeheartedly agree. CloudMagic is available to buy from the Mac App Store now for $19.99.