Mailbox App First Impressions

Mailbox App

Cleanest inbox ever!

Are you drowning in email? Do you use your inbox as a rolling to-do list? Do you constantly leave emails unread so you remember to answer them later? Mailbox aims to change all that. In case your Twitter feed didn’t explode with people reserving their access to the app, Mailbox is an email app for the iPhone that forces more organized email habits. The goal of the app is to get to Inbox Zero, either by archiving emails, moving them to lists for future reference, or setting a timer to pop them back into your inbox when you have time to respond. In theory, it should allow you to quickly get your email under control and clean. I’ve had access for a day or so, and my first impressions went from “meh” to “how did I survive without this?” very quickly!

I think part of the issue was the wait. Downloading an app and waiting two weeks to access it is hard. I know the company was letting people in slowly to scale their servers, but it led to a lot of built up anticipation. When I finally got access I had issues getting my gmail account set up, and since “Mailbox” is a pretty generic name, it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize I had to go to their website to figure out my error. Then there is the immediate change in long-standing habits that is introduced by Mailbox. It’s a rather big change to go from hanging onto every email you receive in your inbox one day to archiving everything the next. Inbox Zero sounded so great, but it required letting go of a pack rat instinct that, for me, did not go down without a fight.

The actual act of using Mailbox is fairly easy. Swipe right to archive, left to set a timer to move the email out of your inbox and back in at a later time. A longer swipe right deletes, and a longer left swipe lets you move the email to a list (effectively similar to a GMail label). Once I started moving emails to lists, and setting timers for later, I realized how amazing this app will be for my workflow. Here’s an example- Sarah and I were emailing about a recipe we want to try this weekend. When we decided what day to make it, I set a timer in Mailbox to move the email back into my inbox that day. Same thing with a follow up email to our realtor about our upcoming home purchase, and emails from friends that I didn’t have time to answer right away. I don’t have to worry about forgetting important emails, or leaving emails unread until I can get to them. I was won over rather quickly.

There are a few downsides to Mailbox that I have identified so far. It’s a bit slow at times. As a result emails sometimes get delayed. I know Mailbox is still working on getting stabilized and rolling out, but, at least right now, you might want to keep your mail app handy as a fallback. In addition, there is a bug that results in attachments not always coming along when forwarded. On the upside, the company was very quick at responding and letting me know the issue would be resolved in the next update. In addition, the app is GMail-only. That’s a bummer for those who have email from other domains. Finally, it is worth noting that everything Mailbox does could theoretically be done with a series of labels and folders and some discipline. Mailbox just automates it for you, quite smoothly.

Yesterday Mailbox seemed cool but a novelty. By midday today it had replaced my regular mail app on my homescreen. By the end of the day I found myself wishing Outlook would behave like Mailbox. I’m hooked. It’s too early to know if this is just a novelty or a serious change to how I handle email, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

Interested? Reserve yours here! Are you trying Mailbox? Share your tips in the comments, and stay tuned for a full review soon!

Categories: Reviews


10 replies

  1. I just cleared the waitlist an hour ago. I like to keep my inbox clean, but here are some read things I prefer to keep in my inbox; seeing the badge in double-digits (as the badge counts *ALL* threads, read or not) is agonizing to me.

  2. I just cleared the waitlist an hour ago. I like to keep my inbox clean, but here are some read things I prefer to keep in my inbox; seeing the badge in double-digits (as the badge counts *ALL* threads, read or not) is agonizing to me. One thing, though: “In addition, the app is GMail-only. That’s a bummer for those who have email from other domains.” This is mostly but not entirely true. If you have mail on your own domain but powered by Google Apps, it also works.

    (I keep forgetting that deleting a comment just makes it anonymous and not actually go away D: Accidentally hit return before I was done writing my comment; sorry!)

    • Yea, bad phrasing on my part. I meant anything not powered by GMail or Google, our Gear Diary mail uses Google Apps and it works great.

      I had the same issue with the unread counts. I am trying to see if it really does help to have every email organized away, so I have been making tons of lists. But the first time it loaded and was archiving, and informed me I had 17,000+ emails I was a bit concerned.

  3. Only ~11,000 more to go and I’m in like Flynn! :) Can’t wait!

  4. I’ve still got 209K more to go … so maybe by the time I get in they will have worked out all of the kinks. =P

  5. I’ve had it a couple of days now and so far I really like it. I just wonder what it is doing with my spam folder on Gmail, though. I like to check this every day or so just to make sure there isn’t something I have missed. I also would like to be able to put stuff in my gmail folders. I haven’t seen an option for this.

    • I think it’s ignoring the spam folder-you probably need to check that manually. It’s pulling from GMail so I would assume spam is still be flagged and filed there before hitting Mailbox.

      As far as Gmail folders, I would recreate them in Lists on mailbox. You can add emails to the mailbox lists in gmail too, so they effectively replace folders, if that makes sense.

      Personally I am finding Mailbox works great as a companion to gmail. I use mailbox for new mail and to-be-dealt-with mail, and then I can duck into gmail for older archived stuff. —
      Sent from Mailbox for iPhone


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