Mailbox – Rethinking Email and Winning The Battle of the Inbox
Editor Note: In December 2015 Dropbox, who purchased Mailbox after this post was published announced that Mailbox was being sunsetted. It will cease to exist in February 2016.
Mailbox went live for the world this past weekend.
If you haven’t heard of Mailbox, you will.
If you haven’t used Mailbox, you will.
It may be the best thing for email since, well, email.
Here’s why.Outlook 2010 For Dummies
The biggest problem with email is we get so much of it. The second biggest problem is we don’t have a means of sorting it meaningfully.
Yes, there are applications or utilities that will allow you to sort by certain criteria, but to me at least, they have always felt like trying to do delicate surgery with a machete.
Sure, you can create folders and rules, but those are not about taking action in a quick fashion. Further, while you can create folders, they are simply a hierarchical view of the same emails that sat in your inbox.
Yes, of course you can flag them. But those flags don’t establish when you want to take the action. That would be another click, or another set of actions.
How Mailbox is Different: The Swipe
Mailbox takes a totally different approach to handling your email. It is an approach you will come to appreciate.
There are four decisions to make when you receive email in your inbox. Read it. Delete it. Archive It. Put it off to later.
At its face, that’s not revolutionary.
But where Mailbox plows new ground is in the “Put it off to later” category. You may be thinking, “That’s what I do by leaving read emails in my inbox.” I confess to doing that for a long long time.
Mailbox makes that approach unnecessary.
The image below is a screen cap from the Mailbox App.
What’s nice about this, as you can see, is that when you put it off, you have choices. Later Today, This Evening, Tomorrow, This Weekend, Next Week, In a Month, and Someday. You can even select a specific date.
The power of this, is that with just a cursory look you can prioritize when you are going to deal with the email. You don’t have to set an alarm, when the “appointed hour” arrives, the email shows up again in your Inbox.
I have found this ability to make a quick decision about when you want to take the action to be a powerful means to deal with the inbox.
You may be wondering how you arrive at the screen you see to the left. To get there, you simply use a swipe of a message from your inbox.
The direction fot he swipe is key. To get this menu, you place your finger on the message in the Inbox and swipe to the left.
The image to the right shows what the Mailbox Inbox looks like. You’ll notice the green box with a check. This means you want to archive the message. The swipe that gets you to that point is a short swipe of the message to the right. If you do a long swipe to the right, the box turns red and there is an “X” to denote you are deleting the message.
So, to recap, with three swipe you can deal with the message in a meaningful way. And this doesn’t require you to actually read the message, since in many instances the Subject line of the email gives you enough information to decide if you even need to read it (you can delete), or if you want to hold on to the message with out reading it, you simply archive it.
You can also decide to read it at a future time, when you can give it your full attention.
But what about actually reading the message? Mailbox won’t disappoint you there either.
What about reading email?
But what about actually reading a message? Mailbox has some special sauce for this too.
The image below lets you see how Mailbox treats your email conversations or threads.
As you can tell, seeing the context of the email you have received (by showing you what has been said so far), gives you a powerful advantage. You don’t simply have to remember what was said, or hunt for it in your email client.
Instead Mailbox presents the thread of the conversation. That makes you better able to give a purposeful response.
So, maybe you are thinking, “It sure would be nice to be able to use the “Read it. Delete it. Archive It. Put it off to later.” stuff I saw in the Inbox view to deal with an email you have just read.
If you will look at the top of the image to the left, you’ll see those very options at the top of the screen. Those are the same actions available via swipes in the message list. You can mark the message you have just read as “Unread”, archive the message, delete the message, or call up the “Put it off to later” menu.
In other words, you can sort your mail just how you need it to be.
The New Message box plows no new ground, so I am not including a screen capture of it. You have the same options as any email client on an iOS device.
I have found Mailbox to be a revolutionary app for managing my mail. Right now it is only available for iPhone, and only works with GMail at present. When it begins working with Exchange server, this app will rule the enterprise.
What about you? Have you used Mailbox yet?