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Mailplane: Better Gmail for Your Mac

When we discussed Google applications a couple weeks ago, we mentioned several applications that allowed you to check your Gmail account from your Mac's Desktop. But these are only good insofar as you can see that you have new email messages waiting to be read. To actually read the email messages, you still have to open up a web browser and long into Gmail.

We've also discussed how to use Gmail with Apple's Mail, which works great if you only use your Gmail account on your Mac. But if you work away from home a lot, or if you redirect your other POP3 accounts to your Gmail account, you're going to want to use something else.

If you're dissatisfied with all of those options, you'll want to take Mailplane for a spin. This shareware Mac application (currently free while in Beta testing) brings Gmail to your Mac with a user-friendly interface. You'll need to request an invitation to get Mailplane - it only took us a couple days to get the download link. We'll show you around this great application!

What's It Good For?

We can already hear the skeptics: "Isn't this thing just a glorified web browser?" Well, yes and no. It's true that Mailplane simply loads the Gmail webpage. But there's so much more! First, it's really nice to have Gmail in a dedicated application all by itself - especially one that can automatically log into Gmail.

Check out these other features:

  • Drag and drop files into Mailplane to attach them to email messages.
  • Use the included iPhoto plug-in to quickly attach photos to your messages.
  • Set Mailplane (and Gmail, of course) as your Mac's default email client.
  • Built-in Growl support lets you know when new mail arrives, and the menu-bar icon lets you quickly scan the subject lines of your new messages.
  • Google Talk is built into Mailplane and can be configured to open when you start the application. (Thank goodness for this one!)
  • You can control Gmail with Mac keystrokes.
  • Uses secure connection (https) to keep your messages and account information private.

Mailplane might not be to everyone's tastes, but it is to ours. We dig the clean interface and the balance between Gmail and this new Mac application.

Installing and Using Mailplane

Mailplane is a very Mac-like application. Everything from the installation to the set up feels very natural, and it's all over in a matter of minutes. Here's how to do it:

  1. Since Mailplane is in Beta testing, you'll need an invitation to try the software. Go ahead and request one here. After you receive your invitation, you can download and install the application.

  2. When you first start the application, Mailplane will ask you if you want to it as the default mail application, install the iPhoto plugin, and automatically check for updates.

  3. Next, you'll be asked to enter your Gmail account information. Make sure to select the secure connection checkbox!

  4. And finally, Mailplane will ask you to turn your Keyboard Shortcuts on, if you haven't already. Just follow the directions and you'll be good to go!

That's it! You've now taken Gmail to the next level thanks to Mailplane.

Meet Your Macinstructor

Matthew Cone is a technical writer living and working in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In his free time, he does the desert rat thing and hikes and road bikes around the Southwest. The rest of the time, he studies straw-bale houses, reads Anarchist philosophy, and pretends to not be working. You can email him at:


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