Mailbox App

mb_iconA few weeks ago, possibly longer, I signed up for the waiting list for the then not yet released Mailbox service. Last Saturday, my wait ended and I was able to start using the service via the Mailbox iPhone app (the only interface thus far).

So, what is it? Primarily, it offers functionality that I’ve been wanting for almost as long as I’ve had email. Or, at least, it seems that I have. Specifically, it allows me to defer any email until a later time I choose, which hides the email from my inbox until that time.


Deferral Options

The interface is very nice with a quick swipe to the left on the email (or clicking the clock icon when viewing the email) bringing up the dialog above. These options are configurable in settings, either explicitly for “Later Today” and “Someday”, or implicitly for the others by defining start and end times for days. “Pick Date” also allows for picking the time that you want the email to come back.

I should note that Mailbox only works with Gmail. As I mentioned, the iPhone app is currently the only interface available, though you can continue to use any other interface to your Gmail, just without the ability to defer emails. You can still view the deferred emails via the [Mailbox]/Later label, and they will still return to the inbox as scheduled since this is handled on the server side (I believe). In fact, you actually can defer emails without the Mailbox app, but only for “Someday”, by simply moving them to the [Mailbox]/Later label.

An important caveat, though not a show-stopper for me, is that Mailbox currently does not provide any support for generic Gmail labels. You can create Mailbox-specific labels under the [Mailbox] label, but that’s it. Theoretically, you could move any existing Gmail labels into the [Mailbox] label, but I’m not doing that at this point. Mailbox does let you view and search All Mail, though it doesn’t seem to work well for non-recent email. For now, I still use the Gmail app for searching old email.

When you have archived or deferred all of the mail in your inbox, Mailbox rewards you:


Tapping the image reveals the full version

The image changes every day.

This has been working so well for me that I’m tempted to move my normal ToDo items into my email and just let this manage them. I’m not, yet, due to lack of an easy method for handling repeating items, which is what almost all of my ToDo items are.

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  1. #1 by Kevin Spencer on February 22, 2013 - 8:21 am

    When I read about Mailbox a couple of weeks ago it sounded really really interesting. Now that I read it doesn’t have support for Gmail labels I’m slightly less interested in it as I have almost all my mail auto-labeled and it would be nice to point Mailbox at one “set” of emails instead of everything. I still might give it a whirl regardless.


    • #2 by Ren on February 22, 2013 - 10:01 am

      My use of labels might differ from yours, so this comment may not fully apply. I’m treating Mailbox as my mobile inbox handler. Filters that I have to auto-label emails typically skip the inbox as well specifically because I don’t want to be bothered by them when mobile.

      For exceptions to this, you can restructure those labels to be within the [Mailbox] label and you will still be able to manage them from Mailbox. I haven’t tried this yet as the label I most likely would have done this with has instead been obsoleted by the deferral function. That is, I had a label that I used for reservations and such so that I could quickly find them without having to remember the appropriate search words. With Mailbox, I now just deferred all such emails until the date where I’ll need them. If I need them early, they are still collected in Mailbox’s Later label.

      Mailbox comes preset with three of its own labels: To Buy, To Read, and To Watch. The idea is that this is for deferrals that aren’t time related. I get it, though only after a Twitter conversation with @mailbox, but I don’t currently find such a need.


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