My Dream GTD Email App

This morning I was thinking about email and imagined a GTD email app that would work exactly how I’d want it to.

Basically, the app would have two completely different views. One would be the inbox, which receives all new messages and is regularly processed to zero. The other would be the archive, which would be all messages not in the inbox (and any folders you might have put emails into, etc.). Basically everything an email program does without the constant accumulation of emails.

So, I can do this already, actually, with my email program, Mailmate. Regularly, I check email then take my accounts offline, which basically gives me this functionality albeit in a hacky way.

But my dream email app isn’t offline. And when I’m looking at any message in my archive, the app tells me if there are messages in my inbox by the same person or with the same subject line. It lists them and I can click on those specific messages, and see the new relevant content, without being distracted by other things that have accumulated in my inbox.

If you use GTD, what would your dream email app do?

1 Like

I completely agree. I was able to create your Archive view in Apple Mail by making a smart mailbox using criteria “Message is not in mailbox” “Inbox”

Conversation view shows me related messages from the inbox without showing the whole inbox.

Thanks for this post. I have wanted this ability for a while and your post gave me the push to try to create it

1 Like

Please let us know what you come up with!

I don’t think there is an ideal email app. The best we can hope for are apps that allow you to tweak them so you will be able to create an ideal app for you. I think Mailmate, Keyboard Maestro and Hazel can do almost anything regarding ones email workflow.

I’m going to try MailMate later this year, I’ve heard that it’s a pretty bombproof app that doesn’t have the privacy issues of Spark or Edison Mail.

I’m enjoying UniBox for reading my Gmail (which isn’t my main mail account.) It breaks up everything by sender and then conversation, which is a novel and useful design. Unfortunately, I am unable to connect it to my Yahoo Mail account and my entreaties to the dev for assistance with this were unanswered, so I cannot recommend anyone purchase the app.

I can highly recommend MailMate. It’s not cheap for an email application, but it’s been rock-solid for me for the two or so years I’ve been using it. If you’re using Gmail with it, follow the instructions carefully at - Gmail’s fake IMAP implementation make configuring MailMate to work with it non-trivial.

What I like:

  • Plain interface - means you get in and out of email as quickly as possible.
  • Markdown editing - just like these forums!
  • Automatable - I recently used their command line interface to automate sending a bunch of emails, which was amazing! See for documentation.
  • Integration with other productivity apps, including OmniFocus, BusyCal, Fantastical, etc.
  • Use of default message:// links, rather than proprietary links like spark:// or airmail://.

Some sort of by person smart mailboxes would do this for you, though it wouldn’t be the aggregate Active Conversation interface you’re looking for.

As a follow-on to this message, I wanted to report that I reached out to the developer of Mailmate and have altered my setup so I can get some of this functionality.

With the “correspondence view” turned on and a default smart mailbox (I called this “unbox”)that excludes anything in my inboxes or sane later box, I can click on a message in the unbox and see in the correspondence view if there are newer messages. It’s not perfect yet, but some progress towards this goal.