Ten Days of Spark Email - Day 1

January 24, 2021

The next email client I am trialling is Spark. I no longer remember how I became aware of Spark, but I do know that I briefly used it in May 2018.

Features

Spark has several noteworthy features. It offers a combined inbox, like many other email clients, with a twist — it automatically categorizes incoming emails, making it easy to see what is unread. Spark offers a classic inbox too, if you prefer to see your emails without the category groupings.

Spark also offers smart notifications. With smart notifications turned on you won’t be notified for mails from strangers or automated emails. You can control this notification filter per account, making it easy to see only the notifications that are important to you.

There’s a natural language search feature that allows you to search for “attachments from David” or “links sent yesterday”

And like nearly all modern email clients, Spark offers the ability to snooze emails.

Perhaps the nicest feature is the availability of Spark on mobile platforms too. I can have Spark on my macOS desktop or laptop, and on my iPhone or iPad.

Spark also offers a set of collaboration tools for teams.

Caveat

Spark uses a “Spark account” to synchronize your email accounts across devices. This allows you personalizations and settings to be quickly setup on a new device. The Apple App Store Privacy report for Spark shows that Spark has contact info, user content, and identifiers linked to you, while they don’t track usage data or any diagnostics.

Look and Feel

Spark doesn’t offer any themes other than a light or dark mode. Dark mode looks good, but I personally don’t like dark mode for things like web browsing or email. Having white content starkly outlined by dark windows and controls is not an appealing look for me.

You can assign a color to each email account. This color appears as a small vertical line just ahead of each email’s subject. When you are viewing the combined inbox this makes it a little easier to see which emails are from which accounts.

There is also a mail preview feature that allows you to see a 1, 2, or 3 line preview of the mail’s content in the list of mails. You can also show an avatar for each email, based off the sender.

Instead of a global setting for the font used when composing, there is a formatting option in the composition window. Changing the compose font there is sticky — meaning once set it stays set — but it wasn’t obvious that was the case until I played with it.

One nice feature is being able to choose the set of keyboard shortcuts you prefer. You can have Spark’s shortcuts, the Gmail ones, the Apple Mail ones, or you can create a custom set for yourself.

Signatures support plain text or HTML formatting.

There is no encryption support.

Operating Systems

Currently Spark is available on macOS, iOS and Android mobile support. Work is underway for a Windows client.

First Impression

I like many of the features that Spark has. I do like that I can have the same tool on all my devices. On the whole Spark is fairly low key. It has a simple elegance that is appealing.

I haven’t yet decided if I’ll use it for my work email or not. At first glance it doesn’t look like you can turn accounts on or off per device. I don’t like to have my work email on my personal computers, although I do have it on my iPhone. I could setup a second Spark account that only had my work account in it for use on my work computers. That wouldn’t make getting both personal and work email on my phone easy. That will bear some further investigation.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.