I’ve been using a beta version of Sparrow for a while and it is very, very good. In fact, it’s rare for me to get so excited about a new piece of software. I’ve needed a proper offline client for Gmail for a long time. Internet speed & reliability up here in Orkney are not great, mobile internet is GPRS only, so offline is an essential feature for me. I’ve tried using Thunderbird and the built-in Mail client, but neither offer proper support for my favourite feature of Gmail – labels. Sparrow does a great job of handling labels, in fact I’d say it’s better than the gmail website. The user interface is very attractive and efficient to use; I wish my software could muster anything like the same elegance!

Here are some tips for using Sparrow which I would have found helpful when getting started:

  • The little arrow at the bottom right opens up a preview pane with messages organised by thread – this is my preferred view in fact.
  • When you first start it up, Sparrow appears to be doing nothing, but behind the scenes it’s downloading stuff. Choose Window > Activity to see what’s going on.
  • Labels will appear gradually as stuff is downloaded. If, like me, you’ve got several gigabytes of mail, you need to be patient!
  • You can have multiple gmail accounts with different avatar pictures – see Preferences > Accounts.
  • [Edit – 2011/02/09] The context-sensitive menu when composing a message has lots of good stuff in it, like the ability to capture & insert a screenshot, add a hyperlink, etc.
  • [Edit- 2011/02/09] There are keyboard shortcuts which you can read about here.

There are a couple of things it would be nice to see added to Sparrow:

  • Sort conversations in reverse.
  • Add labels when composing a message.

But these are minor things. Sparrow is a really excellent email client which I wholeheartedly recommend. And customer support (http://getsatisfaction.com/sparrow) has so far been very good, in my experience at least.

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