(Free?) Alternative to Sanebox?


I am sure Sanebox is great, but it is an overkill for me.

Is there a free, possibly even local, alternative I could use fir sorting email? I am using the iCloud filtering rules, but these are tedious to setup and maintain.

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You might try SparkMail. It’s free and might work for you.

Thanks - looks interesting, but I would very much like to stay with the out-of-the-box Apple mail clients - because I actually like them.

If you want Apple Mail, there is only SaneBox as far as I know.

What is it you are trying to achieve?

If you want to move emails around, I think you can have free options that are manual (i.e. the rules you are creating) or you can have something with some amount of intelligence to read your emails, which requires a server to process your emails and therefore wouldn’t be free.

The only other option would be using something like Gmail which can move/tag Mailing Lists and the like.

If it helps, try to elevate your rules as much as possible so you have as few rules as possible. For example, don’t move emails from ABC mailing list, but find something consistent with all the mailing lists and use that (e.g. I use the word “Unsubscribe” to move mailing lists, as mentioned by @ismh on one of the episodes, rather than doing them one by one).


Yes - I want to sort them based on certain criteria, which should be adaptable based on moving my emails.

As I said, I would not mind running it locally from my home server - that one could be on 24/7 and do the sorting. Also, there was MailHub which worked as a plugin for Mail to do this (not 24 7, though).

I like this - never have thought about it from this way.

Thanks, Rainer

Some mail providers offer sorting rules. I use Berlin based provider mailbox.org and I configured a bunch of rules in their web interface. Without these rules my inbox feels totally broken. However, it is not possible to emulate things like SaneReminder afaik.


How do you do this in iCloud, or do you have a filter in Apple Mail?

It’s a Gmail rule for me.

I can’t see a way to do it on iCloud, but the option is indeed there on the Mail Mac app, but it means you need to have Mail running all the time to apply the rules as it doesn’t look like they replicate to run server side (unlike Outlook and Exchange, for example).

Such a lack of an important feature would be enough for me to move to another service. If you wanted to do this (might be extreme depending on the problem you’re trying to solve), you can forward all your emails to a new email provider that allows you to do what you need.

I wish SB would let you specify what senders you’d like attachments saved from instead of saving every single one and cluttering up your DropBox.

I find that standard Gmail, used in a browser, is very good for ‘intelligent’ email management and has some similar features to SB. Over the years Google has improved Gmail a lot and it seems to be great at identifying my important mail and providing nudges when I need them. Worth looking at if you are not a user.

I have a gmail adress, and I used their filtering - it works nicely.


I am moving away from google due to privacy issues - I do not feel comfortable to entrust my mail to a company which is making their money from targeted advertising. I could pay for the account, but the sour feeling remains.

That is why I moved to iCloud (and I needed the 2TB tier anyway for family sharing (photos, backups of multiple devices (gosh - at least two per user…) ) etc.

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I know I may sound like a broken record. But as I have been telling my users, superiors, and friends for decades, email cannot be kept private.

Multiple copies of every message you have in your account also exist in the accounts of those with whom you communicate. When you send an email it is forever out of your control.

IMO, you should choose an major email provider that has the features, price, etc. you need. And don’t worry about losing privacy that doesn’t exist.


I completely agree with these statements. But I think there is a difference between this unavoidable loss of privacy and giving a company which is making it’s money from advertising your email collection including your email address, browser ID, other personal info.

So - that was my part of google bashing for the day.

Anybody mentioned Microsoft Teams🤯 ?

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In early 2020 Google had 1.8 billion users out of a worldwide total of 3.8 billion. At that time they were the worlds largest email provider with 43% of the market. Yahoo had 26% and Outlook had 6%. Currently Google has over 2 billion users and is continuing to outgrow its competition.

With those kind of numbers it is possible (likely?) that at least half of all the emails you send to individuals, and a significant percentage of those you send to businesses, end up on Google servers.

Of the unavoidable things of life like death & taxes, it might be time to add Google to the list. Just saying.

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One thing I’ve been considering is FastMail. Does anybody have experience with the rules and filtering in FastMail?

I think gmail and g suite filtering is really strong

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Fastmail has an excellent reputation, but I’ve only used Gmail, G Suite, and my corporate mail systems “since the turn of the century” :grinning:

I’m sure someone else will assist you soon.

You may be able to “talk” with SB to get a lower priced package based on your usage, either by reaching out to them directly or starting the cancellation process. I did that. Still not free, but saves me a fair amount of time.

If your email is on an imap server , I’d recommend imapfilter https://github.com/lefcha/imapfilter

It is based on Lua , but the sample config provided is good enough to get you started .
I’ve been using it to filter email for the past several years .

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