I'm currently using Thunderbird for my e-mail needs on OS X. I manage 4 different e-mail accounts, one of which receives a lot of e-mail per day.

As the messages pile up, I notice that Thunderbird is getting more sluggish. Is there an alternative that handles large volumes of e-mail efficiently?

  • 1
    Are you on Thunderbird 3? I have 12 accounts with ~7000 e-mail between them in Thunderbird 3, and it's still really fast. Mozilla completely rewrote the mail-database system in the switch between 2 and 3 (Went from giant MBOX files to a SQL DB).
    – Fake Name
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 0:25
  • I use IMAP and Thunderbird and it is one of the best email clients I have ever used. Mail and Entourage are both bad with IMAP. I have heard good things about MailMate, but I have not tried it yet.
    – neoneye
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 8:31
  • 2
    @neoneye: I've been using Mail and IMAP for about 4 years now. Without any problems. Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


Nobody's mentioned Apple Mail. I love it, particularly the Lion version.

  • Lion's Mail.app is absolutely awesome. The new conversation view especially.
    – Michal M
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 7:12
  • I've been trying it for a while and I'm sold. It's great!
    – Mike42
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 20:42

I've switched full time to Sparrow largely because of how well it handles multiple email accounts. I'm willing to put up with some of its other quirks because of the fast account switching and unified inbox view. Switching between accounts is the fastest I've experienced of any tightly-coupled-to-gmail mail application I've used on any OS and the minimal UI appeals greatly to me. It's support for non-Gmail or non-IMAP accounts is only so-so right now, but if you fall within those use cases it's definitely a contender for a great mail client on OS X.

Sparrow does download your mail to local disk; it's part of what makes account switching so snappy (versus something like MailPlane where it's a UI wrapper around Gmail's web view). Between my 3 main Gmail accounts I've got just under 18,000 email messages for a total of ~3.5 GB of space on disk consumed by messages and their attachments. That should give you a baseline for comparison to your own account volumes and needs.

It stays in lock step with Gmail so I don't worry about backing up my local Sparrow directory with Time Machine -- Gmail has copies of everything and gives me the ability to undo any horrendous mistakes I might make with my mail accounts.

  • 1
    +1 Sparrow is the best Mail app on the Mac, bar none. That may change with Apple Mail on Lion, but for now I have permanently switched to Sparrow. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 2:06
  • 1
    I was using Sparrow on Snow Leopard, but I have removed it from my machine since installing Lion. Mail has improved to the point that I don't feel I need a third party solution.
    – jakeva
    Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 17:05
  • @6NSString I've yet to revisit Mail.app since upgrading to Lion. I might have to check it out.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 15:28
  • I'm using Mail.app in Lion this week and it has definitely improved. Sparrow has been eating CPU on my machine for a few months now. It'll go through periods where it's doing a bunch of disk I/O and using one core heavily for a good 10-15 minutes at a time. So I'm sort of cooled off on Sparrow now.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 14:25

With IMAP it seems that MailMate is extremely fast and powerful, as already suggested. I'd try it out, to see whether it suits your need. I tried it once, but the poor gmail support at the time had made me drop it.

Then there are a plethora of without-GUI apps, like mutt, which is highly praised by the UNIX-folks.

If you need a client with robust Exchange support, you can't go wrong with Outlook:Mac 2011.

But, just for the fun of it, why not trying Mail.app?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .