Big Mail

I can’t help but be fascinated when new email clients drop. Like I want to be convinced. Email is such a big part of my life, I both want these things:

  1. to mix things up and keep the job of doing email feeling fresh
  2. to not upset the current bar of productivity

So if it’s not fairly obvious fairly quickly that a new email client will quite literally make me more productive, I just end up reverting back to the old muscle memory of the client I already use.

The latest hot email client that I’ve come across is Big Mail. Looks like the big promise is AI-based categorization of emails. I don’t know that I need that? But hey maybe? I don’t wanna be afraid of new ideas. Then there are sorta dangerous ideas mixed in here, like The Bouncer. Emails from new senders appear in here before you see them in your inbox, so you have to manually approve them. I think that’s how Hey works too. That might be really neat for a brand new email account, but dangerous for someone not expecting or used to that feature who’s had this public email address for decades.

See? I’m already looking for reasons to not like it. I don’t wanna be like that, but alas. Just minutes after setting it up…

  • It would show me emails in my inbox, but show a seemingly infinite loading spinner awkwardly placed.
  • After the email did load, several of them had so much white space at the top of them, I had to scroll super far down to read the email. Same email not like that in any other client.
  • I can’t configure the shortcuts, so my muscle memory is already shattered.
  • Some emails that are rolled up together and treated as one in my main client are split into multiple emails in here.

Ugh — that’s enough for me. I don’t hate it, I just don’t even get a whiff of why this would benefit me. I suspect it’s best for those people with massive unweildly inboxes, where a smart computer sifting through thousands of unmanaged emails actually will help organize them and uncover important things.

Dan Moren of Six Colors experienced a similar vibe. He found some interesting things, but also some difficult hurdles, especially for someone dipping their toes into switching:

There’s another sticky wicket with Big Mail’s approach: while I appreciate that it doesn’t touch my email account’s organizational hierarchy so that if I do pop over to another email client, my messages haven’t been moved into weird folders and whatnot, it also means that those ignored messages…well, they are literally ignored, meaning that they will sit in your inbox, unread. Seemingly forever.

And ultimately I agree with the take:

Look, I get that a lot of these are things that can be chalked up to my personal usage of email. But the very longevity of email’s existence makes it by definition personal. Many people have been dealing with email for decades, and we all have our own systems—there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

The trick to email is finding a client that jives with you and building up your strategy over the long term. The strategy is more important than the client, so the long as the client doesn’t get in your way.

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