SmallCubed Software's MailSuite is a $60 collection of plug-ins for Apple's mail app designed to help you organize and manage your mail. The suite consists of four components: MailTags, Mail Act-On, Mail Perspectives, and SigPro, each of which previously lived as standalone plug-ins you could purchase individually and which are now sold as a single package. Each of these plugins is an enhancement to Apple's Mail app. You have the option of choosing to install them all or you can select only those plug-ins you want to use.
A fully working version of MailSuite can be downloaded and tested at no charge for 60 days. This is a generous test period and should give you more than enough time to determine whether or not this is a valuable tool for you to use. I used the trial version for this review.
- MailTags provides excellent message management and action tools
- Setup of the plug-ins is made easy because of an excellent installation tool
- Nearly non-existent documentation
- Non-responsive tech support
- Difficult-to-discover features
As MailSuite is a collection of plug-ins for Mail, you'll need to do a little bit of setup before you can put MailSuite to work. The initial installation is easy and the installer app provides excellent instructions on the changes you'll need to make so the app has access to the information it needs in order to work properly. This includes changes to the Security and Privacy System Preference, enabling full disk access for MailSuite, and enabling the plug-in in the Mail app so it can make changes to and track messages in Mail. MailSuite smoothly guides you through this process, making it easy to get the suite installed and running.
While setup was friction free, figuring out how to use MailSuite was not nearly so simple. It was at times opaque, confusing, and difficult to discover. Occasionally it was all those things at once. To get started, I tried to find a help document or something along the lines of "Getting Started with MailSuite." There wasn't one. MailSuite does add a MailSuite menu to your Mail app, but this only includes links to enable each of the plug-ins and links to the SmallCubed website. I did finally discover some information on the MailSuite support site, but there was no specific documentation for MailTags or Mail Act-On, and limited documentation for Mail Perspectives and SigPro. In short, I was largely left to my own devices when it came to learning how to use these tools.
I also sent three messages to SmallCube's support site, all with the same support request number. I have, as of publishing, yet to hear anything from support, other than an automatically generated, "We've gotten your message and we'll get back to you."
MailTags is the crown jewel of the SmallCubed MailSuite, with easily discoverable features and a fairly obvious interface. It's also a devilishly simple tool for organizing your email messages and the only one of all the MailSuite plug-ins that I like.
MailTags uses a tagging feature, similar to what you'll find within macOS (opens in new tab), to help you quickly organize your messages and queue them up for some future action. Tagging is an open database format, which means you don't have to create pre-defined tags to make tagging work for you. You can create new tags on the fly as you need them. So, for example, if I was sending an email to my editor about this review, I could tag that email message with iMore, Lory, and Reviews and then I could use any of those tags and Mail's Spotlight search to organize, find, and retrieve those messages in the future. This can eliminate or enhance your use of Smart Mailboxes or folders for organizing mail messages you receive.
You add tags using a modification MailTags makes to the Mail app. Create, view, or reply to a mail message and you'll see a small tag just below the Reply-To: section of that email message. Click the tag icon and a small sheet appears that allows you to add tags and action items, including adding ticklers, notes, and setting priority levels for the message, and this is in addition to the tags you use to organize those messages. All of this adds up to a tool that supercharges your email and has the potential to supercharge your workflow.
And the Other Three
The other three plug-ins hold promise, but a significant lack of documentation results in a lack of clarity on how to configure and make the best use of Mail Perspectives, SigPro, and Mail Act-On. It also wouldn't have hurt if I'd gotten at least one response back from SmallCubed support. So, keep this in mind if you choose to purchase MailSuite. You may have a steep learning curve that consists of digging in and figuring out what each app does and what you have to do to make it work for you, with limited support from SmallCubed.
Mail Perspectives is like QuickLook for your mail messages. Using Mail Perspectives you create "views"—essentially, small floating inboxes —for the email accounts you specify. This allows you to quickly check your email at a glance without having to bring up Mail's main window. You can also view entire messages and reply to them by selecting a message in the View window and hitting the spacebar. You can snap off a new email message using the view window's Compose button. Views are Space aware, so they work well with Mission Control.
SigPro is a plug-in that allows you to create and use dynamic signatures for all your email addresses. To do this you use drag-and-drop variables and fixed text within a normal Apple Mail signature. Once you define the text and variables, selecting a SigPro-enabled signature can dynamically change your signature to reflect the email address you're sending a message from and can include links to your Skype handle for Skype calls, and information about what you're currently listening to on iTunes.
Mail Act-On is the black hole of the SmallCubed MailSuite. This plug-in is designed to help you perform a variety of tasks on every email message you send. Presumably, you should be able to automatically move messages to archives or inboxes, set dates, and reminders for action items you need to take on a particular message. It appears that some of these features are integrated into MailTags, as there are action items you can take on mail messages within the MailTags sheet. Otherwise, without digging into the Mail Act-On preference, it was really unclear how to use this feature or how to make changes to it and there was nothing that helped me easily discover how to use it.
As it happens, I did dig around a bit, as that's my job, and I finally figured out how to access Mail Act-On within mail, add new actions, create reply templates, and use many of the plug-in's other features. But this plugin really needs documentation and there is absolutely none.
Here's another reality: If you buy a utility like Keyboard Maestro, and you're willing to spend a little bit of time with it, you can do everything that you find in Mail Act-On and SigPro, plus you can use Keyboard Maestro to do a million other things, all with excellent documentation.
Mail It In
MailTags is the only reason you'd want to step into SmallCubed's MailSuite. Of the four plug-ins, it is, as noted above, a powerful tool for organizing and managing your email messages. But $60 is a lot to pay for that one utility. There may be more value in the other plug-ins, but those benefits are not easily discoverable and, with tech support that appears to be non-responsive, it's likely not worth your time or money investing in the entire SmallCubed MailSuite.
Finding the right tools to make managing your email easy can be a challenge. What do you use to make your mail great?
Jeff is a writer, actor, Apple Certified Trainer, and IT consultant, born and raised in A-town and now living in NY. You can often catch him behind the scenes and on stage at County Players, Falls Theatre. Up next? He's stage managing *Cat on a Hot Tin Roof* at the aforementioned County Players.
I'm a happy user of MailSuite so I thought I'd write my own little review in response to the above article. Cost: $60 is quite expensive. I was an owner of MailTags and Mail Act-on when they were sold as separate products so I only paid the $30 upgrade cost for MailSuite. I definitely think MailSuite is worth $30, but I think the regular price should be less than $60. However, once you've used MailSuite it's hard to go back to plain Mail, so $60 isn't totally unreasonable. I won't discuss MailTags because the reviewer already discussed its advantages. Mail Act-On: I really only use one feature of Mail Act-On but it's extremely valuable--outbox rules. The Mail app only allows for inbox rules. But Mail Act-On lets you create rules for outgoing messages. I like to filter my incoming AND outgoing messages into folders and without Mail Act-On, I would be stuck with Mail's ability to only filter incoming emails. I have not used any of the other features of Mail Act-On but the outbox rules are enough for me to find Mail Act-On worth buying. Mail Perspectives: Mail Perspectives is a little confusing. I generally don't use the little windows/views that give you quick access to emails. However, Mail Perspectives has another feature (though it's tied to the views) that I love: you can create "badges" (a little colored shape with a number inside) which show up in your Mac's menubar that will show the number of new emails in a specific folder. And you can create multiple badges, each for a different folder. I love being able to see, with the badges, how many new emails I've received no matter what program I'm using. SigPro: I don't use signatures much so I haven't yet used SigPro. But for some people, being able to create lots of signatures, including some with dynamic content, might be useful. In general, I have found MailSuite to be kind of buggy and I agree the documentation is almost nothing. However, hopefully the documentation will be improved and I have been communicating with the customer support person at Smallcubed and she has been responsive. The author of the review said he hadn't heard from Smallcubed's support, but I have. I think there is only one person providing the support which is why responses aren't always immediate. But I've been reporting some bugs and they've been fixed quite fast. So to sum up: I am happy with MailSuite and I would recommend it for anyone wanting to have a lot more control of their emails.
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