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Apple Mail plugins: Navigating Apple Mail’s transition

Explore the world of Apple Mail plugins in this guide. Learn their benefits, popular options, potential issues, and future trends.

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    By James

    James has seven years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.

    Email communication remains a cornerstone of both personal and professional communication.

    Apple Mail, the default email client for all Apple devices, serves millions of users worldwide, providing a user-friendly platform for email management.

    However, while Apple Mail's native features cover a broad spectrum of user needs, they don't cater to every user's unique requirements. This is where Mail plugins come in. These are software components that add new functionalities and features to existing software.

    Integrating these plugins with Apple Mail can significantly improve its capabilities, offering a more personalized and efficient email experience. This article aims to guide you through the benefits, implementation, and future trends of Apple Mail plugins.

    What are Apple Mail plugins?

    In the SaaS world, plugins are akin to Swiss army knives. They are additional software components that extend and enhance the functionality of a base software application.

    In this context, plugins for Apple Mail introduce customizable features that aren't present in the email client. They're particularly useful for streamlining certain tasks, providing better email management, and ultimately helping to save you valuable time, hence boosting productivity.

    Benefits of using Apple Mail plugins

    Using the right plugin can prove transformative for Apple Mail users. To start with, these plugins significantly enhance email productivity. They do this by automating routine tasks, like sorting emails, tagging important messages, and managing spam. They save users time and effort, which can be directed to more critical tasks.

    Secondly, they can create a better, more pleasant user experience. Some plugins offer functionalities such as email tracking, providing read receipts, and encryption, ensuring that your messages are safe.

    Lastly, plugins bring a level of personalization to your email client. Each user can tailor their Apple Mail to their specific needs and preferences.

    Popular Apple Mail plugins

    popular Apple Mail plugins

    Here are some popular plugins that you can use in Apple Mail:

    • Mailbutler: This plugin is your personal AI assistant for Apple Mail. It comes with features like Smart Compose, Smart Respond, and email scheduling, which lets you compose an email and schedule it to be sent at a later time. Mailbutler also offers advanced email tracking, which lets you know when your email has been opened. The plugin's template creation feature also allows you to create and use Apple Mail templates for recurring email formats, saving you the trouble of typing out the same email repeatedly.
    • SpamSieve: If you're troubled by a cluttered inbox, SpamSieve might be the solution for you. This plugin employs advanced statistical algorithms to separate spam emails from legitimate ones, ensuring that your inbox stays clean.
    • Mail Act-On: This plugin allows you to define rules and commands so you can manage your inbox more effectively. For example, you can set a rule to move all emails from a particular sender to a designated folder. Such automation capabilities can save you a significant amount of time.
    • GPG Mail: This plugin offers encryption capabilities, ensuring that your sensitive emails can only be read by the intended recipient.

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    How to install and use Apple Mail plugins

    To use an Apple Mail plugin, you need to first download it from the provider's website. After downloading, install the plugin and then enable it within Apple Mail. The exact process may vary slightly from one plugin to another.

    Once the plugin is enabled, you may need to adjust your Apple Mail settings to optimize the use of your newly installed plugin. Some plugins may require permissions, or you might need to set up specific rules or templates to use them fully.

    It's a good idea to go through the user guide or tutorial provided by the plugin developer so you properly understand the installation and usage process.

    Potential issues with using Mail plugins and solutions

    Despite the numerous benefits that plugins bring, users may occasionally face issues. One common problem is compatibility issues with Apple Mail updates. Sometimes, a plugin might not work as expected after an Apple Mail update, requiring the user to wait for the plugin developer to release an update.

    In some cases, using multiple plugins can slow down the email client. To avoid this, try to keep only the most useful plugins and uninstall those not frequently used.

    Another concern with third-party plugins is privacy. As plugins can access your emails, there is a potential risk of sensitive information being misused. Therefore, it's essential to use plugins from trusted developers and always read the privacy policy before installation.

    The future of plugins with Apple Mail

    As with any technology, the world of plugins is continually evolving. With the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) in tech solutions, we can expect future Apple Mail plugins to offer even more intelligent features. However, they will be called Apple Mail extensions.

    Apple announced at its 2023 WWDC event a shift from plugins to extensions for the Mail app, beginning with the macOS Monterey release. This change is possible through a new framework called MailKit, which allows developers to create extensions for tasks like content blocking, message actions, and security enhancements.

    The extensions, which can be integrated into existing Mac apps and distributed through the Mac App Store, will fall into four categories: Compose, Actions, Content Blocking, and Message Security.

    However, this feature is exclusive to macOS and won't be available on iOS or iPadOS. Apple also revealed that older Mail app plugins will cease to function in the macOS Sonoma release.

    The shift from plugins to extensions aligns with the broader trend in software development, favoring extensions with more secure, stable, and isolated functionality.

    While extensions offer some benefits like reduced crash risks and security vulnerabilities, the transition might pose challenges. Developers will have to update or rewrite their existing plugins to fit the new MailKit framework, and users may experience changes or temporary loss in functionality.

    Despite these potential obstacles, the move towards extensions in Apple Mail represents a significant advancement in enhancing the app's versatility, security, and overall user experience.

    Alternatives to Apple Mail plugins

    Alternatives to Apple Mail plugins

    There are several other email clients and standalone apps with built-in features that you might find useful. Here are a few:

    • Mailbutler: Get ready for a new and improved Mailbutler! Your favorite Apple Mail plugin is becoming its own extension. This move means that it will work even better with the upcoming macOS Sonoma that will happen on the 26th of September. The change will make Mailbutler easier to access, and faster. Plus we will have a new feature - Email Tags.
    • Microsoft Outlook: This is a part of Microsoft's Office Suite and includes integrated calendar, task management, and contact management features. It offers a wide array of customization options and supports plugins of its own.
    • Thunderbird: This free, open-source email client from Mozilla offers a wide range of features and supports a vast library of add-ons. It is also highly customizable.
    • Spark: Available for macOS and iOS, Spark has a nice inbox feature that categorizes your emails, and it also supports team collaboration with features like shared drafts and comments.
    • Airmail: This is a mail client for Mac that supports iCloud, Exchange, Gmail, and other email systems. It has a wide range of features and is highly customizable.
    • Postbox: This is an email client that's packed with advanced features and customization options. It supports a variety of email systems and offers a simple, clean interface.
    • eM Client: This is an all-in-one email client that also includes a calendar, tasks, contacts, and chat. It supports all major services and offers a modern and easy-to-use interface.
    • MailTags: MailTags was a popular email tool for tagging your emails in Apple Mail, with the new macOS Sonoma update, it will stop working. So if you are looking for a reliable alternative to MailTags you can check out Mailbutler's Tags feature.


    Apple Mail plugins can be powerful tools to upgrade your email experience. By understanding their benefits, and being savvy about how to install and use them, you can turn your Apple Mail client from a simple email application into a robust personal assistant for email management.

    Apple Mail Plugins FAQs

    Can Apple Mail work without plugins?

    Yes, Apple Mail functions perfectly without plugins. Plugins merely serve to enhance the functionality of the email client according to your needs.

    Are Apple Mail plugins safe?

    Most Apple Mail plugins are safe, especially those developed by reputable companies. However, users should always be mindful of privacy policies and only download plugins from trusted sources.

    Do I have to pay for Apple Mail plugins?

    The pricing for Apple Mail plugins varies. Some plugins are free, while others may require a one-time purchase or subscription. Make sure to always verify the payment model before downloading.

    Can I use multiple plugins with Apple Mail?

    Yes, you can use multiple plugins with Apple Mail. However, be aware that using too many plugins simultaneously might slow down the email client or cause compatibility issues. It's advisable to only use the plugins that you find most beneficial.

    What happens if a plugin causes issues with my Apple Mail?

    If a plugin is causing issues, try disabling it temporarily to see if the problem persists. If disabling the plugin solves the issue, you may need to contact the plugin's developer for support or wait for an update that resolves the issue.

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    1. I’m glad to see Apple Mail moving away from plugins and extensions. This makes the email client more consistent with other Apple products, and makes it easier to learn and use.

      10 Sep 2023

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