Kiwi for Gmail 2 review: A better way to experience G Suite on your Mac

Transforms Gmail and all of the G Suite apps into a sophisticated, full-powered desktop client.

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At a Glance

As an iCloud user, Gmail isn’t my primary email service, but millions of others faithfully depend on it. Although Google created a capable mobile app for smartphone and tablet users, the search giant has long neglected the desktop, where Gmail fans must settle for the inherent limitations of traditional IMAP client software or a second-class, web-based experience. Or do they?

What do you get when you extract the Google experience from a web browser and integrate it into a standalone app? Kiwi for Gmail 2.0, the closest we’ll likely ever come to a native Gmail client for macOS. At first glance, Kiwi looks like little more than the web-based G Suite disguised as an application—which it technically is—but small details make a big difference.

kiwi for gmail 2 inbox view IDG

Kiwi delivers the Gmail experience you know and love without the inherent limitations of a web browser.

Goodbye web browser

For starters, Kiwi manages up to six different accounts, each with its own color theme from 10 available choices. And not just Gmail: G Suite accounts are supported too, with one-click access to Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides from separate windows. Because Kiwi logins are persistent, you can quickly hop between accounts using shortcut icons across the top of the main window, or via optional menubar which provides one-click access for composing messages in a new window like a real email client, plus a convenient Do Not Disturb toggle when it’s time to get work done.

New messages or calendar events can also be created via custom global keyboard shortcuts, which work anytime Kiwi is open, even when using other apps. You can drag and drop attachments into the compose window, with file sizes up to 25MB each, and even larger (1TB) with Google Drive integration. But the pièce de résistance is that you can configure Kiwi to launch at startup as the default mail client, a nice touch since Apple Mail provides a barebones Gmail experience.

The little things

Kiwi for Gmail’s thoughtful integration with macOS doesn’t end there. The app features a sidebar along the left side of the window for quickly switching between Gmail, Google Calendar, or Contacts, as well as shortcuts to create a new message, event, document, spreadsheet, or slideshow.

kiwi for gmail 2 focus filter inbox expanded Zive

Kiwi’s Focus Filter Inbox view displays only incoming messages from the last one, two, three, four, or seven days.

Once your Gmail account becomes overrun with new messages, it’s Kiwi to the rescue with Focus Filtered Inbox. In a single click, users can view only messages received during the last one, two, three, four, or seven days; everything else remains hidden until this option is disabled. However, Kiwi never lets you forget the number of unread messages; they’re displayed along the top of the main window, and optionally the menubar and dock icon, as well. Kiwi sends push notifications for incoming messages flagged as Important, with an option to set discrete alert sounds for each account. (Sadly, notifications aren’t color-coded by account, but clicking one does open that message in the correct window.)

kiwi for gmail 2 menubar shortcuts IDG

The optional menubar in Kiwi for Gmail makes it easy to compose a new message from any account, or toggle on Do Not Disturb mode when it’s time to get some work done.

Kiwi 2.0 introduces support for Gmail plugins starting with Boomerang, a popular productivity tool for scheduling messages to be sent at a later date, tracking responses, or hitting the pause button on incoming emails. Boomerang includes an AI-powered feature called Respondable to help Gmail users compose better messages and improve your odds of getting a response. (A host of other plugins are also in the pipeline.)

There are a few limitations: Kiwi integrates with Google Contacts rather than those in macOS, and—not surprisingly—there is no support for rival email services like Outlook, iCloud, or Yahoo. Otherwise, this affordable app makes Gmail a lot more bearable for Mac owners.

Bottom line

Break Gmail free of the web browser with Kiwi, the closest thing there is to a native desktop macOS app.

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At a Glance
  • Kiwi for Gmail 2.0 transforms Gmail and all of the G Suite apps into a sophisticated, full-powered desktop client that thoroughly integrates up to six accounts into your macOS experience in ways that aren’t possible from the browser alone.

    Pros

    • Use Gmail, G Suite as a native macOS application
    • Supports up to six color-coded accounts with Focus Filtered Inbox
    • Global custom keyboard shortcuts, default email client option

    Cons

    • Requires active internet connection, no offline mode
    • No integration with macOS Contacts
    • Notifications don’t reflect per-account color theme
    • No support for other email services
  
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