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Ask HN: Whats the best alternative to Inbox?
67 points by softinio 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments
This week I read google are closing down Inbox by gmail. Curious to see what alternative everyone are considering or is everyone simply going to use gmail.

I love how Inbox just mostly hides emails I'm not bothered by.

For example, right now in Inbox I see two bold email subjects within the promos section - very minimal, makes it look like everything has been read.

Whereas in Gmail, I have four bold emails spread across the page making my inbox look messy and that I may have missed something important (I haven't).

I know I can change the inbox type to improve it, but just out of the box Inbox does such a great job at hiding it whilst still letting you know it's there.

This doesn't answer OP's question.

And neither do all the other replies saying "use fastmail" or "use gmail"

At least this one is furthering discussion

Shutting down Inbox was the last drop in an already full bucket of Google failures that pushed me to start migrating everything Google that I am using currently to other services. For email/calendar/contacts, I am currently evaluating Fastmail. I like it for now, simple and fast and I like the multiple domains and aliases feature that I need. I also like how they represent them, they are just providing service for the money, nothing else is happening with our data, no ads, etc..

I migrated to Fastmail from Google Apps a couple years ago. When Inbox came around, I moved everything back to google. While Fastmail is a wonderful service, I don’t think it has the features that Inbox provides. so I’m not sure it’d be a good alternative to Inbox.

What will you do now when Inbox is dead?

Not sure. I’m like everybody else looking for good alternatives here :)

I went from Inbox to Fastmail about six months ago, more due to data privacy concerns, but that's not necessarily important here.

Fastmail is a great service that I'm very happy with so far, but you will have to set up your own "bundling" if you want that feature. I have found the Fastmail rules configurator to be easy enough to use and set up. For example, anything from '*@amazon.com' goes into "Purchases", anything from 'mom@email.com' goes into "Family", various mailing lists go into "Newsletters", etc. All the other stuff gets archived. The rules configurator is much more comprehensive than this, but I haven't found a need to filter by much more than domain name yet.

Their stance on privacy is great, their phone app is slick, their calendars and file storage get the job done and are at least as good as their Google counterparts. It's very easy to set up forwarding and replies from your gmail address as well. I am happy to pay for their service and plan to keep using it for the foreseeable future.

There is some old saying about eggs and a basket that I think is appropriate here... but I'de have to google it.

I suspect I'm in the minority but the biggest draw of Inbox for me is the UI. I have used gmail with Stylish rules to eliminate most of the default UI, but it breaks periodically with CSS changes (not to mention Google banned Stylish recently, I have yet to look into alternatives).

IMO the Inbox UI is miles ahead of default gmail, and all of the other graphical email clients I've found on web and desktop mimic the traditional email UI.

It seems like I'm left with changing gmail's CSS or using a terminal email client, but I'm not relishing it as it seems like a step backward when all I'd like is a simple webmail client with a nice UI.

Stylus is a fork that (supposedly) doesn't track you.

I am using Spark for a while now, https://sparkmailapp.com. I like the Smart Inbox and notification feature. You should try once before moving to anything else.

Only for Apple devices, no web client

It looks like this is the best alternative. But what is their business model? I just gave them access to iCloud and FastMail and gmail. Are they now scanning everything and selling it?

Their Privacy Policy says

You have a wide array of rights that we respect. Among those the right to:

- Require access to your personal data;

- Require rectification of your personal data (this is less relevant since otherwise we could not provide you with the service);

- Require erasure of your personal data;

- Withdraw consent to processing of your personal data, where applicable;

- Lodge a complaint with your national supervisory authority (in the EEA) if you believe that your privacy rights have been breached.


I host my own postfix server on FreeBSD and use the Evolution IMAP client on Linux. I haven't been in a situation where I need web access to mail in years so for me it's equivalent.

I started out about 6 months ago with this great guide:


The cost of a convenience like having a free email account is participating in the demise of the protocol-based networks that we have replaced with centralized products. There's many other great IMAP clients and maybe some of the features of Gmail/Inbox can be recreated using server side rules and scripts.

While this is still email, this arguably stretches credibility as a suggested alternative for someone looking to replace Google’s Inbox app!

Classic hacker news “just roll your own email server”...

Every time an email client is mentioned here there's this classic and repetitive comment thread under it that goes like this:

- I run my own postfix, dovecot, mutt, emacs, gnupg, gpg, pfsense yadda yadda (on OpenBSD!) works great ...

- Email is too tricky to run yourself nowadays

- Works fine for me for the past 100 years (OpenBSD vry stble, much solid)

- ...

That's not an alternative to Inbox at all. That's an alternative to Gmail, which is clearly not what the op asked

I've been using https://superhuman.com/ for a while. It really is as fast as they say and with their focus on keyboard shortcuts, you can fly through your inbox(s).

It's not free but then again, that's a good thing I hope. Implies they plan to be around for a while!

Thank you!

We're here to stay — the world doesn't need another email app to come and go :)

Is it Gmail only?

Yep, Gmail and G Suite for now at least

I think so.

Just finished obsessing over the same question for the last few days. I'm switching over to gmail (in the hope that some of the features will migrate someday), and adding Todoist (https://todoist.com) as a replacement for the reminders system.

But I'm still angry.

How do you find todoist vs other to do list products? I've been looking around for a while for one to settle on. What is your usage like?

It's simple, elegant, it works fast, and available on both Mac and Android.

I depend on reminders for those tiny pieces of information that I don't want to forget, and I need them to jump back at me at a predefined time - so that's what it's going to replace.

I have like ~50 items going on at any given moment.

I tried every todo app on the planet Earth. I settled for 2DO. Todoist has several limitations that I dislike and 2DO is one time payment vs monthly.

Interesting. What do you find to be todoist's limitations? I'll check out 2DO

Left Gmail for FastMail a few years ago and never looked back. Well worth the money.

UI wise, for me it is the much more responsive interface, especially in Firefox. I always had the feeling that GMail was especially slow/laggy in Firefox.

What do you like about it, besides just not being Google?

Much faster interface than gmail. No tracking, no ads. Actual support.

What support have you required? Will they tell me why an email for marked as spam? Because it marks my domain which clears all ham tests as spam...

Yes, our support can help with that. In most cases, what we’ll do is actually something that you can do yourself: the spam filtering goes through SpamAssassin, with the standard rules and a few extra ones of our own, so you can normally do a good job of figuring it out by looking at the X-Spam-hits header, though figuring out what an obscure rule actually is can sometimes be tricky—the documentation of them is often quite poor. That will commonly lead to things like: “the sender is in this blacklist, and the IP address lacks RDNS, and the message didn’t include a meaningful text/plain part, and the text/html part lacked the <html> and <body> tags (which spammers often omit but real senders almost never do), and it did this other weird thing that spammers commonly do; and if you fixed one or two of them it’d stop being classified as spam”.

DKIM problems were my only contact with support. It's mostly about having them available when needed.

I’m just going back to Gmail. It has most of Inbox’s best features.

Honestly they are doing a great job with Gmail.

I was one of the sandy people about losing Inbox too, but the sunset date is several months out and they have coordinated the timing of the EOL announcement for Inbox with the rollout of all the new Gmail features to people with Gmail via Gapps or whatever they're calling it now.

I have two institutional Gmail accounts and I've been using all of my Gmails with Inbox. They've both (institutional accounts) finally sent an opt-in notice inviting me to try the new Gmail (which looks intended to replace Inbox), and offered to convert me over or let me keep the old Gmail.

Hopefully everyone else is getting this new Gmail too. I'd suggest to try it, if you've been holding out. A lot of the innovations pioneered in Inbox have already been ported over[1]. I was one of the strongest supporters of Inbox to my friends, and I didn't convince very many people to try it, (so I've got that going for me, at least I'm not likely to have to answer this question a hundred times...)

I liked Inbox's implementation of a few of the features better, but there's also a few of them I can't put a finger on. I'll probably switch back and forth several times over the next 6 months. I'm sure I'll be able to articulate it better by then. (In that respect, they've really done a fine and decent thing here, for the betterment of Email at large, so I can't be too sandy about it I guess.)

Notably in all of this, I haven't heard anyone complaining about "this new Gmail and how much crappier it is than the old Gmail." That must mean it's better than the old Gmail. So the experiment is going well, at least a naïve eye might infer that...

[1]: and you're still not losing access to Inbox for 6 months, so you'll have plenty of time to whine about whatever you like most from Inbox that still hasn't made it to Gmail. I'm looking at you, travel bundles...

I was never a big fan of Inbox, made the switch to Gmail a long time ago, works great!

Apparently, Bundles will be added as well to Gmail.

Do you have a source for that? I would quit most of my whining if I knew that was to be the case.

Your own mailserver running on your own hardware on your own premises routing to your own domain with an MX backup routed to someone you trust who is on another provider - you can do the same for them. Add a web mail client if you want to have web access (Roundcube has served me well for many years now, the Nextcloud/Owncloud mail client also works but lacks some features). Do this and you never have to worry about being left out to hang because of some company dropping a product or going bankrupt. Maintaining a mail server takes about 8 hrs/year which - if translated into billable hours - might be more expensive than using a commercial alternative but it also gives you far more flexibility and freedom in how to handle your mail. Make sure to route outgoing mail through a reliable smart host to avoid it being blackholed by the likes of Google and Microsoft.

Source: personal experience, I've done this for about 23 years now. There are many others who have detailed their experience running their own mail servers on this site...


...and elsewhere.

Sure, let us just replicate yours 23 years of experience and knowledge in a few days..

What a silly remark, with that attitude you'd never start anything 'new'. Of course you do not need to 'replicate 23 years of experience ... in a few days' to run a mail server. There is plenty of information on the 'net on the subject of running one of these, it is far from rocket science and something which I assume the average HN reader can handle with ease. Don't take my word on it, just read around a bit and ignore those who decry the foolishness of doing something yourself when you can pay people to do it for you.

That's a lot of assumption, there. You assume we all have an extra box lying around to serve. You assume we all have the DIY attitude--or the time--to set one up. You assume that all E-mail users are smart enough to do this. And you assume (for my case, at least) that setting up AND maintaining a premise e-mail server is something we all WANT to do (after, you know, a long day of tending to company servers and equipment). And, finally, there's the assumption that the irrelevance of this avenue (as it IS outside the scope of the OP's question) is warranted or welcomed feedback.

I switched back to Gmail a few months ago. Used boomerang for snoozing until Gmail added the feature itself. The biggest benefit for me is the auto filtering of primary/social/updates/forums. I've yet to find an alternative that does that. Otherwise I'd love to use something like FastMail. Not sure how I'd get through my inbox otherwise without this filtering.

You'll need to be specific about what features you are looking for. For me - Inbox bundles are the killer feature although it's part of a complete workflow so there's probably some other aspects that I'm (ahem) bundling together that are also key.

Your use-case might be different so something that's an adequate replacement for you might not be for me.

If you're after an android email client, try FairEmail[1]. It has some inbox-like features, plus it's open source.


I would be interested to know if there are any free alternatives to g-suite/custom domain email. I'm not sure what Inbox was, but I've been using gmail/g-suite for many years without any real issues. I'm only using it because it's been free, however the free edition is no longer available to new signups. I've been recommending FastMail or Office 365 depending on who's asking me for advice, and I really would like to have a free option as many people I talk to are non-profit, charity, or simply resource limited.

I just use my domain providers email forwarding service to forward to Gmail (or whatever) and then change the from and reply to addresses to my domain email address. Should work with just about any service to get your own domain email and be able to move on to another provider at a moment's notice.

Zoho Mail

I'm using paid accounts on both Fastmail and Protonmail. I have settled on Fastmail now for primary use.

Its not as feature rich as some services, but it covers what I need. Multiple account fetch, simple identity management for sending from those accounts, and a basic calendar to aggregate work and personal schedules make it just handy enough.

The idea behind Protonmail is interesting, but Fastmail was just a bit more convenient. The calendar is a differentiator for me.

I'm apparently one of the few that did not prefer Inbox.

I dumped Inbox for ordinary Gmail, because Inbox felt just smart enough to be neat, but dumb enough to screw up a lot. Most of the mail I receive is not in English, which may be part of the problem for Inbox.

Later I completely dumped Gmail for a reputable hosting provider and a personal domain name. Full cPanel setup and Roundcube webmail does what I need.

I receive mail in English, Spanish - and occasionally French - and I've been so impressed by the categorisation, and even auto-reply suggestions in both English and Spanish (too small a sample to say on the auto-replies with French). Maybe there are other languages it's not hot with, but these at least I'm happy with. On the plus side, this is a feature that's made it to Gmail already, so if they can handle hiding non-critical messages till the morning, I'll be happy to switch back.

Danish probably isn't a huge priority for Google, unlike world languages like French or Spanish :-)

My personal choice, personal email hosted by a well-know provider (around 20 euro/years) sync-ed locally via mbsync and sync-ed to my desktops via muchsync (to sync tags&c). For webui Roundcube or Mailpile.

IMVHO the era of "free" mails is ended.

Centask is a task manager integrated with Gmail inbox. You can hide emails by scheduling them you can also group emails, to-dos, links and files under the same task.

funny enough after posting this I went to gmail after a long time of not using it to see what its like. Got prompted to upgrade to a new UI early. I said yes and most of the inbox features I used are there. Just not as nice looking. So now I understand why they want to shut it down as most features added to gmail and I wouldnt be surprised if the rest of the features move over too.

Zoho suite is a very robust alternative to GSuite. They have all services that GSuite provides and then some more.

Thunderbird on desktop, K9 on Android.

The only time I ever use webmail is you search for an old message.

Are there any open source email clients that are as polished as GMail?

Roundcube [1] does a good attempt of mimicking the likes of Thunderbird, Rainloop [2] has a more 'modern' look and might appeal more to those looking for such.

[1] https://roundcube.net/

[2] https://www.rainloop.net/

Fastmail, hushmail, and ProtonMail are among the better Gmail alternatives.

I'm not sure anything out there strictly replicates the exact feature set that Inbox or Gmail had/have


I was going to switch to this, but they don't have integrations for my companies email. I really can't wait to try this out though.

Can you give out referrals?

Yes. It's Gmail.

For multiple users: Anyone use Kolab? Zimbra per-chance?

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