Review: Mailbox App

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I gave it the old college try. For the last 3 weeks I have been using Mailbox on my iPhone. It’s a fantastic app, but it’s not for me.

The Mailbox App team have had a very interesting ride. I remember seeing their initial video about the app months before it was actually released and I thought it looked revolutionary and awesome. Then it was released in a way to garner as much hype as possible while allowing them to properly manage the roll-out. Since this is email, I thought that bit was pretty awesome, especially since email has moved into the category of “always has to work”.

So I signed up and waited. Luckily, I joined early and only had to wait a little more than a week for my reservation to kick in. The app itself is very nice. The interface makes sense and the controls, once you actually figure it out, also makes sense. I had a minor issue with my reservation, however. Nothing that they weren’t able to correct via their Twitter account and support email.

So far, so good. I’m beyond impressed at this point.

After playing with Mailbox (and archiving my inbox), I put my phone down and do what I always do. Opened mailplane to work on email.

Mailbox only works with Gmail, and for it to work, it actually gets into your Gmail inbox and takes over for you, adding labels and archiving messages. It’s the way it worked and on the phone, it’s pretty awesome.

But my phone isn’t my primary email device. My phone is where I triage email. Sure, I reply to some messages via mobile, but those are the quick hit replies to answer an easy question. Anything with any substance, I want a keyboard. Same goes for creating new messages. I almost never send an email from my phone. It’s not part of my work flow.

I also don’t practice inbox zero in the strictest sense. Instead of going for zero messages, I shoot for zero _unread_ messages. When I hit that, I color myself done and about once a quarter I’ll archive my inbox to produce true inbox zero.

Finally, if I had to pick on Mailbox for anything, it’s the lack of search. While I seldom do this mobile, I do need this feature.

I’m not saying this is a bad app. I’m saying it’s a bad app for me. It’s a fantastic app and I’m sure it will continue to be even more fantasticer since Dropbox bought them. In fact, as long as you don’t mind a 3rd party having unfettered access to your Gmail account, use your phone as your primary email device (or don’t mind the changes it makes to your inbox) and are ok not having search (for now I would almost bet), I would very much recommend Mailbox.

By Don

Lead bottle washer at, host at and tech guru for the MotoringFile family of sites.


  1. Thank you for this. After waiting for almost 3 weeks, I found out yesterday that it was ‘my time’ to use Mailbox. I too was intrigued by the possibilites shown by the launch video, but I have no desire to allow the app to take over my Inbox to the point of archiving items, etc.
    …much appreciated.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Mark!

    Yea, the first thing someone tweeted to me when I initially posted about Mailbox App was that it got all into your Gmail. Unlike, apparently every other person on the planet, I’m not paranoid enough to care about stuff like that.

  3. Same thought. Got it a while back, used it for about 8 min and decided I didn’t really see what the big deal was.. I mostly don’t like the fact they are all up in my mail doing stuff with it..

    Long story short. Interesting idea, but in a world where we use multiple devices A LOT side by side, if all of them don’t act the same, it causes more issues than it fixes.

    It kind of just seems like an app for people that don’t have a handle on their email and want a way to pretend like they have it under control.

    1. Those that think an app will cure their lot in life and fix everything that is broken. That’s exactly who this app is for. Didn’t even think of that.

      Thanks Jason!

  4. I’ve had it for a week and I also love it but…I’m confused about how it links to my Mail account on iPhone. Should I have to delete emails in BOTH places? It seems I should be able to deal with the messages in Mailbox and they also disappear from Apple’s Mail app. I also have other non Gmail accounts so it’s not going to work for me either. But I do love the concept.

  5. Waited for a long time to get the app and haven’t used it.
    I have hotmail and not about to go to gmail..

    1. Everything that I read about this app told me that it was Gmail only. Did they change some of the text on the site so that part is harder to find?

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