Windows/Mac: Postbox is an email client that helps you re-discover all the photos, attachments, and links buried in your email, as well as organize newer mail. Think of it as Thunderbird with a file-managing fixation.
In fact, Postbox is based on at least a good chunk of Thunderbird‘s code, and most of its company’s founders and lead developers worked on Thunderbird or other email apps at Netscape or Mozilla. If you’re already a user of the open-source bird, Postbox should be strikingly familiar, but Postbox can also be picked up pretty easily by any new user. Let’s take a look around:
Like Thunderbird, Postbox can handle RSS and newsgroup subscriptions in addition to email, but the mail is what it’s really all about. You’ll want to have an email account with IMAP abilities to get the most from Postbox—in other words, to get back through your mail history and grab pictures, attachments, and the like. Gmail and Yahoo Plus users get automated setups, but any account will do:
After filling in the usual address/user/pass details, Postbox will connect and start acting like a normal desktop mail client. By default, it will only connect to your mail server and start downloading and indexing mail when your system is idle, but you can head to Tools, then Index All Messages to get the rich search ball rolling. If you’ve been using a webmail account that discourages deletion, be prepared for a bit of a wait:
Whichever indexing route you go, Postbox looks pretty familiar in its standard inbox view. Notable, though, are the easily tabbed views, the “Topics” (like labels for Gmail), and an integrated search bar that supports Firefox-like plugins:
Your search options are pretty robust in Postbox, letting you combine multiple criteria to search on any folder:
When composing, replying, or forwarding mail, you assign topics from a keyboard shorcut or the prominent button. It auto-completes, suggests your most-used topics, and lets you automatically add a topic to your “Favorites” sidebar:
Postbox doesn’t gather your mail in a Gmail-like “conversation” view by default, but offers a “Gather” button that can search through every folder and topic in your account with a related reply and string it together. The “Annotate” button lets you edit the message subject or add your own note for greater search-ability or memory boosting. The To-Do button lets you add a message to, well, a built-in To-Do list, and offers a neat, GTD-friendly “Pending” option that marks a message as needing a reply. On the right-hand side of a message, you’ll also see all the links included throughout the message for easy reference:
Okay, onto the neat stuff. Once it has run through some or all of your account’s messages, Postbox gives you some pretty powerful search options. Choose a folder, topic, or account, click one of the media type buttons—Images, Attachments, Links, or Contacts—and enter some search juice into the upper-right bar. In Images mode, you can sort by relevance or date, scale the thumbnail sizes a la Picasa, upload selected pictures to Picasa Web Albums, and, of course, save and send what you find. For those with inboxes that stretch many years, Postbox can be a time-sucking memory trip:
The view’s much the same for attachments:
And links and contacts:
Right-clicking on a search result also offers contextual upload options, as noted:
My one complaint, at the moment, is that I literally can’t find a way to see more results from a particular image/attachment/link/contact search—I get one page of results, and I have to find what I’m looking for there, or get really, really refined.
Postbox features a lot more than what’s posted here, but there are the basics.
Are you giving Postbox a try as your desktop email client? Intrigued by its attachment-managing powers? Figuring Gmail/Yahoo search gives you the same features online? Tell us your take in the comments.
Postbox is a free download in public beta at the moment, available for Windows and Mac systems.