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Spark for macOS Adds Email Management Features

The hallmark feature of Readdle’s Spark email client for macOS is its Smart Inbox, which is designed to surface important email messages intelligently. That feature, along with a unified inbox and swipe gestures for common actions, goes a long way to simplifying email management. Nonetheless, email is one of those areas where personal preferences matter a lot. People are particular about how their email is organized, an area that was underserved by Spark. With version 1.2 for macOS, Readdle has begun to tackle email organization, which should make Spark a more attractive option for people who like Spark’s approach to email but want a little more control over how their messages are managed.

Spark 1.2 supports labels for Gmail accounts for the first time. Gmail labels already applied to your messages now show up horizontally along the top of each message. Additional labels can be added and created by clicking the plus button next to the other labels. Searching based on a label is a simple matter of clicking on a label.

By applying multiple labels to a message, you can effectively place a message in two or more folders at once, which is exactly how Spark treats labels. There is no meaningful difference between folders that reside in the sidebar and the labels lined up along the top of a message. For instance, clicking on my @SaneNews label above a message caused @SaneNews to show up in the sidebar as a ‘Recent’ folder. Folders and labels are just two sides of the same coin that let you access and organize your messages in slightly different contexts.

Folders (left) and labels (right) are equivalent in Spark.

Folders (left) and labels (right) are equivalent in Spark.

Folder management is also more flexible in Spark 1.2 than it was previously. Folders in the sidebar can be color-coded with one of 24 colors. There are also dedicated Recent and Favorite areas for folders. Within each section, folders can be dragged into whatever order you want. I love the ability to reorder folders as I see fit, but the need to mark a folder as a favorite for it to be displayed in the sidebar is perplexing. Maybe it’s just semantics, but I’d like to include folders in the sidebar regardless of whether they are marked as Favorites. Instead, the only way to access every folder is by clicking ‘More’ and picking a folder from the menu that appears. It’s a choice that simplifies the sidebar but at the expense of user control.

Spark 1.2 also adds Smart Folders, which are like saved searches. Using natural language syntax like 'email from Federico with attachments,’ I can save a folder as a favorite in the sidebar that collects just those messages that Federico sends me that include attachments. Smart Folders are a nice addition to Spark and in my tests were fast and reliable.

Spark 1.2 adds a few other small, but welcome, refinements. Message counts for unread or all messages can now be set in preferences to be displayed in the sidebar for each folder. Also, searches support 'or' and 'and' operators for greater search flexibility and draft messages can be manually saved now.

The updates to Spark don't approach the levels of customization available in some other macOS email clients, but if Spark's simpler approach to email appeals to you, that isn’t necessary. Spark already takes most of the pain out of email management for you. The addition of labels and folder management gives users more flexibility without compromising Spark’s simplicity. Although I prefer more control over folders and other email client features and think there is still room for Spark to improve in this area, today’s update makes it more versatile, which should appeal to more users than ever.

Spark 1.2 is a free update to existing customers and is available on the Mac App Store.

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