Gmail users: how well do the "nudge" and reply reminders work? (and your general opinion on the service)

This email thread about Spark got me thinking long and hard again at how I use email and how I could improve it all.

I have been trying to love Airmail but it didn’t let me; I have tried the new Newton but it’s still buggy; I’m currently using Spark, which works. But I’m not satisfied with the way their smart inbox works, and I don’t think their server plays well with Sanebox, so I don’t use both at the same time.

I use

  • Send Later extensively
  • Quite a lot of Snoozing (which I currently find more effective than creating tasks in OmniFocus. In practice, I never come back to those tasks)
  • Smart inboxes (used to use Sanebox, currently using Spark’s smart inbox which is meh)
  • Reply reminders (which work well in Spark)

Now, many of these features (Send Later and Snooze) require having a server somewhere which has access to your email credentials, be it Airmail, Spark, Sanebox and so on.

I have therefore been thinking, well, isn’t the devil you know (Google) better than the devil you don’t? At least I know Google has ironclad security against hackers, and if I buy a Google Workspace account, I will even be ad-free. I’m paying for Fastmail anyway at the moment, and that’s roughly the same price.

Now I know Gmail does:

  • Send Later natively
  • Snooze natively
  • Smart inboxes natively

My question would then be on Reply reminders. I know there is a relatively new “nudge” feature that is supposed to nudge you into replying to emails but what I’m most interested in is how well do the Reply reminders work for you for emails you send to other people? I am used to putting one in Spark and forget about it until the email surfaces again, but I’m wary of any supposedly “intelligent” feature that works without me deciding on it. I wouldn’t want things to fall through the cracks.

Have you been using this feature and is it reliable? Is there a way to turn it on manually and tell Gmail: “I don’t care what you think, this is important, keep track of it?”

Also, any opinions about how happy you are with the service at the moment are very welcomed (I used to use Gmail extensively for years, I even used Inbox for some time, but moved away from all things Google about 5 years ago).

I still own a Mailplane license and will use that on my Mac, while resorting to the native Gmail apps on iOS if I switch. I cringe at the Google design but I think that if I want the power features I look for, I will have to deal with it.


1 Like

Maybe this article is for you. :slight_smile:

Thank you but I’m curious about the other part of the feature: how it reminds you of people that haven’t answered your emails, not how it reminds you of emails you haven’t answered yourself (which I will probably turn off). :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

I use G Suite a lot at work. Follow-up judges appear reliably, I think, three days after your send if you’ve received no reply. If it can be configured I haven’t seen how.

I think they work fine when I leave something in my inbox, but I still prefer to snooze threads when I absolutely need to follow up. That’s probably just my hangup, but I like the certainty as well as the ability to set the exact date.

When I see a nudge come up, I find myself weighing whether to follow up because it’s not something I committed to ahead of time, which is good if the situation has changed and bad if I just need to bug someone and quickly move on with the day. Again, that’s partly just me, but because the feature is automatic, the indecision feels built into the design because it’s just not something I’m going to robotically obey.

Thinking about the Slate article, I guess there’s something in the AI that stops every email thread from being a nonstop reply chain, because I don’t get prompted to reply to every email–hardly any email, really. So I don’t find it stressful at all.


Urgh, three days. I’m never bugging someone after three days, I always give at least ten. So I think I will end up doing exactly what you do, which is snoozing threads. I’m totally okay with this, it’s the Spark way and it’s a lesser evil (and still more fluid than OmniFocussing the heck out of the inbox). Thank you for your experience :slight_smile:

I’m eager to try it out. I’ve set a forward from my regular email provider to my old Gmail, set up aliases and I will see how that works. If it doesn’t, I won’t have a ton of archives to bring back to Fastmail.


Post back how it goes!

If you end up finding snooze useful, please visit and ask for it to be supported in the Gmail API so excellent clients like Mimestream can use it. (


I definitely will, especially if I find great workflows.

For Mimestream, I have starred the issue right away (I really dislike Gmail’s design, I would much rather have a native app on my Mac indeed).


Okay I have to say, this experience might turn out quite short as, after living in the beautiful land of Jony Ive for a few years, I find Gmail almost ugly to use to an almost unbearable point and the iOS Gmail app is stupidly limited in so many dumbfounding ways (no autoadvance? no syncing of custom symbols? And people think Apple Mail is lagging behind?)

Spark is so pleasing by comparison, it’s almost unbelievable.


It’s rough. You can see why I use Mimestream for as much as possible, as much as I like the Mailplane app and will continue to buy their upgrades.


That is Google’s way of trying to make you switch to Android. :stuck_out_tongue:

At least they have a mediocre widget in iOS 14.

Enjoy Google Workspace!

1 Like

Also having to keep my contacts in Google separately from iCloud makes me very uncomfortable.
There’s a good likelihood I’m not going to stay in Gmail, but using it made me realise what things it really does right and how I could emulate that in other systems.

1 Like

Just to update on that little experiment –

The Gmail design is really too rough and material design on iOS is making my eyes sore, as well as the stupid lack of parity between web and mobile. Decided I didn’t want my contacts in Google to be able to use my email, and that I was happy being Google free.

However, the automatic filtering is very good, and that showed me how much more granular I could be with email.

So, I have finally cleaned all my systems to converge all to Fastmail the proper way (with IMAP import instead of forwards), I am back to Spark, with Sanebox reactivated, the whole providing three levels or urgency: SaneLater, regular inbox, pinned emails.

It’s by no means perfect, my dream would be Airmail that finally works, but it’s the best setup available at this moment with my requirements.

1 Like

Is Google’s design language really that bad?

I might be a matter of taste but one thing is sure, I work with text all day and Google’s typography is not only ugly as hell, it makes no damn sense. It irks me as well that an iOS app tries so hard to look Android. I’ve used that enough, thank you. Microsoft makes a much better job at keeping their identity while leaning into the aesthetics of Apple platforms.

1 Like

IMO, it’s a case of “eye of the beholder”.

I’ve considered some really ugly programs beautiful because they worked well and made my job easier. I been using email a long time and Gmail/G Suite is my all time favorite service. I use the web interface or Mailplane on the Mac and the Gmail app on IOS because they do the job.

But that’s me. At some point, PCs, Macs, and most other platforms became just tools to get things done. I prefer some (Macs) over the others but then, like @MacSparky says, “There’s a certain amount of delight that comes with using the iPad.”

I hope Spark & Sanebox works well for you. :+1:

1 Like

I am more than ready to use something that’s not enticing to the eye but highly powerful - among my daily drivers are OmniFocus, DEVONthink and Obsidian which, while not plain ugly, and not the sexiest of apps (Things seduces a lot of customers on appearance alone). But Material Design… nah. Google apps feel way too Googly but, above all, Gmail is not providing me with the level of power that would be worth using such an eye sore. (Typography! For a text app! Come on!)

I left Windows for the delight I found in the Apple ecosystem and since I spend most of my waking hours on devices, it’s true I want to enjoy my tools to some extent, not just get things done with them (would have stayed on Windows otherwise)

Thanks for your wishes - Spark promises « lots of features to come », I’m excited for a potential v. 3.0!


Curious about your comment re: typography. Can you expand on this?

I find both Apple Mail and iOS Mail very pleasing to the eye but when it comes to search I have a terrible find emails.

That’s why I use Gmail on the web on the laptop and Gmail app on my iPhone.

Every once in a while i go back to native Mail apps and as soon as I can’t find an email I jump ship back to Gmail. Happens all the time.

Could be Gmail not playing nice with other third party apps like Mail or it could be search on native Mail sucks.

I have only have a Gmail account so I can’t speak for Fastmail or Outlook Mail.


I have deleted the apps so I don’t have screenshots but my main gripes are

  • The Google brand font has atrocious legibility; it’s fine for branding, but refrain from using it in the apps for some regular text
  • The main font of the text is both extremely small and wastes whitespace around it. All other apps on iOS use system fonts which are perfectly fine and actually designed for the device

Nope, happens with Fastmail too. Spark is the best third-party app I’ve tested at finding stuff as long as it’s recent (must be in cache), Airmail sucks (as with most things they deliver but barely work). I have an Alfred custom search to fall back directly on searching directly on the Fastmail server when I can’t find something I know exists. Gmail definitely is king in that area.

1 Like

Not to sound like a broken record, but native Mac UI with Gmail’s search quality is essentially the use case for Mimestream. It’s in beta but functional, and you might find it prevents some of that switching back and forth, or at least lets you load a performant native app for your searches.