Mailbox gets a native Mac client

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Mailbox, the cult-favorite email application, is coming to the desktop. Starting today, lucky users with an invite — Mailbox is calling them “betacoins” — will be able to download a native Mac version of the formerly mobile-only email client.

The Mac version of Mailbox, which was first announced earlier this year, is a faithful reproduction of its mobile clients. It is a beautifully designed and simple email client for Gmail and iCloud addresses that adds a button to each email allowing the user to “snooze” it for later, when it will reappear at the top of the user’s inbox. The introduction of the new desktop client now allows users to snooze an email to their desktop client from Mailbox on a mobile device, for a more reasoned response when they’re at a keyboard.

Another big improvement in Mailbox for Mac is in the way it saves and syncs drafts. The IMAP protocol doesn’t have explicit methods for handling drafts, and often implementations simply save a new copy, but Mailbox on Mac uses Dropbox syncing to keep unsent emails in order. Mailbox is taking advantage of its corporate overlord, and is using Dropbox to sync settings and data as well: Mailbox is owned by Dropbox after the company bought it in May of 2013.

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Because Mailbox was first developed for mobile devices, there are a few gestures on Mac that don’t directly translate. For instance, swiping a message to the left is the primary way to snooze on mobile, and in the name of consistency, it’s the same way on the Mac. Most Macs are equipped with a big trackpad, but for me, using an old-school three-button mouse, it felt like a foreign movement.

One of my favorite new features is the Mailbox compose window, which is attractively designed like the rest of the app. The composition window is simple, and feels like it’s meant to be used in fullscreen mode.

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Mailbox first rose to prominence when its original iOS beta used a unique waiting list. Like a long line in front of a nightclub or Apple Store, the app told you how many people were on the waiting list ahead of you. Mailbox has not stopped innovating the digital velvet rope: Mailbox users on Apple iOS or Google Android should receive an email with a “betacoin” attachment in the next couple of days which will provide access to the beta. Otherwise, you can sign up for the waiting list at mailboxapp.com.

Gentry Underwood, the co-founder of Mailbox, spoke last year at Gigaom Roadmap on simplicity in Mailbox’s design. Check out the video below.

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