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Mailplane Stops Selling Licenses

Mailplane About box

For many years, my preferred way of reading email was through the Gmail-specific client Mailplane. It wraps Gmail’s Web interface in a native Mac app that provides additional features and Mac-native niceties. Although I’ve been using betas of Mimestream recently, whenever I need to do something that Mimestream can’t yet accomplish, I drop back to Mailplane.

Unfortunately, Google has started blocking embedded browsers from its login page in an effort to protect users against man-in-the-middle attacks. For the last 6 months, Mailplane developers Lars Steiger and Ruben Bakker have tried to find an official solution with Google, but without success. Although they have a workaround in place and plan to keep Mailplane running for existing customers as long as possible, there’s no telling how long that will be.

As such, they’ve now announced that they are no longer selling licenses to Mailplane, and anyone who has purchased Mailplane in the last 60 days can contact them for a refund. That must have been a tremendously hard decision to make, and kudos to them for doing the decent thing. I’ve enjoyed corresponding with Lars and Ruben over the years, and they’ve always been highly responsive, aided in part by their customer service system Replies.

Although Mailplane users can keep running the app as long as it continues to work and can always fall back on using Gmail in a Web browser, there may be other options. I have no experience with them, but several other Gmail-specific mail clients work like Mailplane, notably Boxysuite and Kiwi for Gmail. Their developers haven’t commented on the Google authentication problem, so perhaps the apps are architected in such a way as to enable an official solution. Or they’re just not as concerned about unofficial workarounds breaking. Personally, I’ll stick with Mimestream for now. Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviewed it last year in “Mimestream Brings Gmail Features to a Mac Email App” (25 September 2020), but note that it has improved significantly in the intervening months. I can see why—Mimestream’s developer, Neil Jhaveri, has been highly responsive to even my suggestions about subtle user experience changes.

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Comments About Mailplane Stops Selling Licenses

Notable Replies

  1. What do you use now? I still use Mailplane, and guess I need to start deciding what to do when it disappears.

  2. I just use the Mail app, and will use Safari when I need or want to use the web interface.

  3. I assume Kiwi for Gmail might also be killed by this new Google policy.

    I’m trying Mimestream, which looks nice, but nothing seems to have the feature I most used in Mailplane - being able to log in to multiple Gmail accounts separately and use the web interface.

  4. I hope Mailplane survives long enough for me to learn all the ins and outs of Mailmate. It looks like a good choice for multiple Gmail accounts. At least I hope proves to be.

  5. I don’t understand. The Gmail API opens a special url in the browser and then the app gets a response.

  6. As I understand it, Mailplane doesn’t use the Gmail API—it’s just pretending to be a normal Web browser.

  7. Exactly. Mailplane doesn’t use the API. It’s essentially a browser in an app-wrapper, which is what Google does not like, and apparently they were unable to find a way to make it work.

    The way I read the announcement, it doesn’t sound like they got a lot of help from Google which should surprise literally no one, but I can’t say that for sure.

  8. Now I understand.

  9. There seem to be quite a few ways to wrap websites as Mac apps. e.g. Fluid, Unite, Flotato, Wavebox. Maybe they could be alternatives. I used to use Mailplane, but not recently.

  10. There are other e-mail clients that are similar to MailPlane in that they are basically front ends for Google’s services.
    So far, none of the others are reporting any problems:

    Boxy ($29/yr)

    Kiwi for Gmail (free/$30)

    Mimestream (free while in beta)

    However, if all of those are discontinued, and for some reason you don’t care for Apple’s Mail, there are a large number of third party e-mail clients for the Macintosh. Here’s a list:

    Macintosh Email Software

  11. Mimestream is completely different. It uses the API, not a web browser.

    Kiwi seems like it is the same idea as Mailplane, so not sure why Mailplane would be doomed and Kiwi would be fine.

    Never used Boxy, so I can’t speak to that.

  12. I’ve been a user of Mailplane since it was first released. But for some reason, a couple of months ago, I decided to give Mimestream a try. It is fantastic. So while I am sad about Mailplane going away, I’m happy to have a great option.

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