E-mail app Postbox adds tighter integration with OS X

For Mac e-mail software, Apple Mail is good enough, but barely just. Microsoft Entourage has retail polish and bloat, while Mozilla Thunderbird is clearly a product of open source software.

There’s room for something in between, and Postbox might be it.

Version 1.1.1, which was released by Postbox Monday, feels a little more at home on Mac OS X. It features the ability to use Spotlight to search for messages and attachments in Postbox and full integration with Mac OS X’s very own Address Book. Setting Postbox as your default e-mail client will open the door for two-way communication with iCal for notifications and events, and allow you to easily transfer photos from iPhoto. Just like many other Mac apps, Postbox can now look up words in Dictionary with a right click, and allows you to create new messages by dragging and dropping files on its Dock icon.

Built by former Mozilla staff, Postbox runs on Mozilla’s Gecko engine, the same technology behind Firefox, Camino, Songbird, and Thunderbird. Apart from sharing the same foundation as other Mozilla-derived software, it has a few business-friendly features that should appeal to former Outlook users. E-mail can be filed into a variety of topics, like folders and filters in Outlook. For people on a tight schedule, Postbox can create brand new items for a to-do list or transform individual e-mails into to-do items.

Most impressively, Postbox picks out some of the most important bits out of your e-mail. On the right-hand side of every e-mail you view, you’ll see lists containing every address mentioned with links to Google Maps, attachments with image previews, links to every Website found, and a tiny card with the sender’s contact information pulled from your address book. In addition, there’s a wealth of search options, filters and organized lists featuring all the recent messages, files, images, and links you’ve sent and received, as demonstrated by this video.

Postbox has to spend a few minutes indexing all your mail before these helpful search options and lists become available, and the iPhoto, Facebook and Twitter integration features feel a bit superfluous to me. Nitpicking aside, the latest version of Postbox promises to be a great e-mail client that the folks behind Letters.app could learn a thing or two from.

Postbox costs $40 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

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