Email Life After Mailbox

tl;dr: This shows how to use & setup “Custom Mailboxes” to emulate Mailbox’s “Lists” with their “To Do”‘s taking care of Scheduling reminders.

The let down.

Here we go again. If you’re anything like me, you may have simply adored The elegant, fast, minimal & workflow based email client bought by Dropbox in March of 2013, an announced about being put in it’s own grave in just a few short months. Same story different quarter with ‘giants’ acquiring wonderful software, only to fill them with false dreams and bury their hopes when magically the status quo isn’t met in board meetings years later. This really pissed me off, for multiple reasons which I won’t go into much on (maybe a little), yet for thousands of geeks and fans we’re now on our own to find a way to live without it. 


Multiple blogs & collections have begun popping up helping us weary wanderers find our way to the best replacement. Yet until today found myself still crying inside since I was losing the workflow I adapted and loved by design with Mailbox. I’m a Multiple inbox, sort it first, prioritize it second and power through it when possible kind of guy. Mailbox’s lists made that simple and incredibly effective, yet there’s no other mail client to my knowledge that acted the same. After trying Outlook, native Mail (heh), CloudMagic, Inbox, Spark and others again I was ready to give up and claim email bankruptcy until I remembered how much I enjoyed Boxer before I found Mailbox.   

This is not a review blog and I’m not in the business of selling anyone on why any software is better than another. My goal here is to share my findings on pseudo Mailbox software parity nirvana.


The config is not too bad, give yourself about 20 minutes depending on your personal email needs:

  • Install and setup all your email accounts in, easy stuff.
  • Settings -> More -> Label/Move messages: Set to “Move”
  • Settings -> More -> Swipe Actions (my config):
    • Left Short Swipe: Archive
    • Left Long Swipe: Delete
    • Right Short Swipe: Move/Label
    • Right Long Swipe: Actions
  • Note with the above, assigning “To Do” to one of them will put you in a good place for Mailbox’s “Schedule” 
  • For each of your email accounts (YMMV, mine are all IMAP & iCloud), rename your “[Mailbox]” folders to “Go” or something similar to keep it simple and splashy.
  • Force/Full quit Boxer and re-open it to have it pull a fresh sync of your folders, you’ll now see these in the category tree for each account.
  • If you used to have a label (like me) for simple To Do’s, now is a great time to batch them all into Boxer’s “To Do” to get used to it and have it create it’s own folder (which stays hidden from the category tree). 
  • At the top right of the inside fly-out menu, there’s an “Edit” link next to “Combined”. Tap it and now at the bottom you can “Add custom box”
  • For each account that shares the list you want Boxer to understand (across all) and group, select that label in each account and give it a name. It picks the first one you select to keep it simple. 
  • Repeat this for every “List” you want to create and then order as you like.


Lists are now grouped smart mailboxes and functional!
Lists are now grouped smart mailboxes and functional!

It’s not perfect but pretty close. Now you have custom groups that simulate your lists, and a working “to do” section that is capable of scheduling and reminding you with priority.

Here’s how that looks for me, you can see with the option to sort them how you like they become very useful and quick to work with. Each smart folder gives you full swipe & bulk actions. The only bummer I’ve found is you can’t move messages from multiple accounts at the same time, yet still having the ability to select and group actions is a step up that wasn’t available in Mailbox. 

I’m giving this a solid run to see how life is like in the post Mailbox era. Reach out and share your thoughts with how it works for you if you use the same method or find any new tricks.  

* Cover photo by Gilles Lambert

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