• apps • 10 Mins Read

    Emailing with Spark

Emails, to some of us, are like a plague. They spread rapidly, infect you until you’re covered in sores and can’t do anything useful, and ultimately fill the streets with corpses.

Ok, maybe emails aren’t exactly like the plague.

But they do give us a crippling sense of overwhelm. From notifications to newsletters to work emails to unsolicited offers from rich princes in Nigeria, we are drowning in email after email after email…

This emailpocalypse has inspired a number of apps and services aimed at helping us deal with them. These include Gmail, Apple Mail, Spark, Airmail and Edison Mail. They all offer a veritable assortment of features both freely and paid via subscriptions.

Spark is my favourite of these apps. It’s a freemium cross-platform email app that enhances the email experience with a number of features, such as customisable swipe gestures, a smart unified inbox, email snoozing, customisable notifications and email pinning, among others.

As per their tagline, Spark aims to help you love your email again. It does this by simplifying the email workflow from viewing to composing to tracking important emails via pinning or snoozing. It’s available for iOS, iPadOS, macOS and Android. A Windows app is also in the works.

Let’s have a closer look at it and it’s features.

Inbox

The main screen is a list of your emails currently in Inbox. It’s divided into sections, depending on whether you have Smart Inbox enabled or not.

Smart Inbox & Normal Inbox views.

When Smart Inbox is enables, the list is divided into:

  • People
  • Notifications
  • Newsletters
  • Pins
  • Seen

These categories can be enabled in Settings under Smart Inbox. When Smart Inbox is disabled, you have:

  • Today
  • Yesterday
  • Last 7 Days
  • Monthly view

This view is also used in the sidebar folders.

Email View

Tapping an email opens it with the title front and center, with buttons for adding a team member and pinning the email at the top right. A pinned email is displayed prominently at the top in the Smart Inbox view and under the pinned folder in the sidebar.

Left: Open email view. Right: Email view with collapsed toolbar.

The toolbar at the bottom is customisable with the following buttons:

Toolbar buttons.

You can create a link to the email and share it with anyone, giving them access to the email without forwarding it to them. Snoozing an email removes it from the Inbox and returns it at the time of your choosing across all your devices, with optional notifications when this happens. This can be useful when you receive an important email you’d like to handle later.

Email menu and email snoozing.

You can also send an email to other apps using the Services menu. For instance, you can convert an email to a Things task with a link that takes you back to the email in Spark when clicked. Spark offers integration with services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Trello, Todoist, Asana and OneNote.

Lastly, you can Resend an already sent email to another recipient without composing it anew.

Composing Emails

Composing emails is done by tapping the big blue button at the bottom right corner. This opens a window with a cancel button, the email you’re sending from at the top, and a send button. The sending email address can be changed by tapping the email address and selecting from any of your currently logged in addresses. Tapping the close button provides a menu for minimising, saving or deleting the draft.

New email composing screen and dismiss options.

The toolbar at the bottom has 6 buttons:

  • Attachment: You can attach photos and documents via the Files app. Spark provides a carousel of recent photos at the top for easy attaching. You can also take a photo from this screen and attach it to the email.
  • Templates: Templates make composing emails a breeze. You just select the template from the list and fill in the missing info.

Left: Add attachements to email. Right: Use a template for quick email creation.

  • Text Editor: This provides editing options such as bold, italic, font size & colour, changing font, creating lists and adding links.
  • Set a Reminder: This gives you the option of setting a reminder to a sent email for following up later on.
  • Send Later: This allows you to schedule an email for sending later if your email server supports it.
  • Invite Teammate: Spark offers Team collaboration features that allow you to share emails with your team members. You can use this button to invite your team members to the email thread.

Email reminder and send later function.

Sidebar & Calendar

The sidebar displays all your email accounts and their associated folders. Like almost everything in Spark, the folder list is highly customisable. You can add and remove folders such as Pinned, Archive, Sent and Spam, as well as rearrange them to suit your needs.

Customisable sidebar and inbuilt Calendar view.

The Calendar screen displays the calendar entries from your currently logged in accounts. So if you have a Gmail account with calendar entries, they’ll appear here. You can also create entries using natural language processing and sync them to your calendar.

Settings

You can customise a ton of things in the settings screen.

Spark settings.

Email Accounts

This displays your currently logged in email accounts, a button for adding new accounts and settings one as default. You can also color code your accounts to view them easily in the unified inbox.

Email Viewer

This offers a number of useful features such as customising the viewer toolbar, what to do when an email is archived or deleted and whether to show contact avatars.

Left: Email accounts. Right: Email viewer options.

Services

One of Spark’s unique features is integration with multiple 3rd party services for processing your emails. You can send them to online file storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive as well as task management systems like Asana, Trello, Things and Todoist.

Available email services.

Smart Inbox

You can enable what categories are shown in the Smart Inbox view.

Appearance

Spark supports light and dark themes that can be synchronised to the devices dark theme settings.

Smart Inbox options and appearance settings.

Swipes

This provides swipe actions on emails. You can mark as read/unread, delete, archive, move, pin, snooze, move to spam as well as send to your 3rd party integrations.

Inbox swipe settings.

Signature

You can add your plain text or HTML based email signatures and restrict them to specific email accounts. Signatures can be changed easily when composing emails via left or right swipe gestures.

Left: Email signature options. Right: Notifications settings.

Notifications

One of the best features of Spark, this gives you granular control of how your notifications appear, whether they’re grouped or not, which ones you get, and what actions to perform on them directly from the notification. You can further customise the notification type to display:

  • All notifications from an account
  • Smart notifications, which mutes strangers and automated emails
  • No notifications

The flexible notification features enable you to decide how to get your email notifications and whether their contents are shown in the lock screen, going a long way in helping you know when those butt clenching emails from your boss get into your inbox.

Email Templates

Spark offers templates for quickly composing repetitive emails. Other than composing the body text of the template, you can also:

  • Name the template.
  • Add a subject.
  • Add an attachment.

Security

Spark offers the following 3 security features:

  • You can choose to enable/disable loading of photos embedded in emails.
  • Protected notification actions.
  • Passkey lock to prevent unauthorised access to the app and your emails.

What’s New?

This page gives you an overview of the latest features added to Spark.

Left: Email security settings. Right: What's New info screen.

Spark for Teams

Spark offers collaborative features that allow teams to:

  • Create emails together.
  • Discuss email content privately, in-line with the actual email, via inline comments.
  • Create templates that can be used by all your teammates.
  • Delegate emails to teammates.
  • Keep everyone in the loop without resorting to CC and BCC.
  • Share attachments with the team.

There are 3 payment options for these features:

  • Free: This offers 5GB storage for the whole team, 5 templates per team, 2 collaborators on a shared email drafts and 10 email delegations per team.
  • Premium: You get 10GB storage per team member, unlimited collaborators, unlimited templates and unlimited delegation with this plan. The cost for this is $6.39 per active user per month.
  • Enterprise: This covers large teams that need additional features offered by the premium plan.

If you work in a team and email is your main way of communication then the free tier will work nicely as a way of testing the team features offered by Spark. You can then upgrade later as necessary.

Additional Features

Inbox Zero

Once you reach inbox zero Spark displays a neat graphic and a tweet button to share your incredible achievement.

Spark offers powerful search capabilities with the option of saving searches for later.

Inbox Zero & Search.

Conclusion

Spark has enough features to handle all your emailing needs. It gets updated with new features regularly, it’s completely free to use with as many email addresses as you’d like, you can get it on iPhone, iPad, macOS and Android, it offers great team collaboration features, it’s highly customisable plus it just looks good. Visit the official site, download it to your devices and start loving your emails again.

"Email is the way of the past, present and future."