The Plain Text Editor

MailMate only allows emails to be written using a plain text editor. It is important to understand that this is a feature of MailMate. It might even be its most defining feature. If you are skeptical or simply don’t understand what it means then I ask you to at least read the following to get an idea of what MailMate can do despite what might seem to be a limitation at first.

Plain text is whatever text you can write with your keyboard. This means that you cannot visually emphasize words, create outlines, create links, and insert images within the text editor itself, for example, by clicking buttons. Instead, you can (optionally) use the simple Markdown syntax. This is then automatically converted by MailMate to HTML which is the (unofficial) standard for rich text emails. MailMate automatically shows you a preview of the email and this is what most recipients of your emails are going to see.

Even though MailMate uses plain text in its editor, it can still handle HTML generated by any other email client when replying and forwarding. This is done by embedding the original HTML of the received email without allowing you to edit it. The editor shows you a plain text variant of the HTML within its text editor. Note that if you do try to edit this then MailMate offers you to drop the corresponding HTML. This is useful when the original HTML is not really needed.

The default behavior of MailMate should work well for most users, but there are plenty of options in the Composer preferences pane. Most notably, you can tell MailMate to use a specific theme for styling your outgoing emails. It’s also possible to enable code syntax highlighting and the automatic generation of math expressions. Furthermore, signatures can be configured to have any kind of HTML based variant and you can even bind a specific theme to a signature. In fact, it’s not unlikely, and perhaps a bit ironic, that MailMate is the most HTML capable email client in existence.

Finally, note that MailMate does not restrict you to using the built-in text editor. If you already use a text editor for other purposes then you can also use it to write your emails (see the Bundles preferences pane within MailMate).

Import or Add IMAP Accounts

To get started with MailMate, you need to configure one or more IMAP accounts. If you have any IMAP accounts configured in Apple Mail or Thunderbird then an importer window should open when you first started MailMate. Alternatively, it can be opened manually in the File menu where you can also find the menu item for manually adding an account (“File ▸ Add IMAP Account…”). There is an Activity Viewer (⌥⌘0) to help debug server problems.


The following is a list of things you should try in MailMate. For more information, follow the link in the title of each item. Also note the tips displayed at the bottom of some of the windows in MailMate. Alternatively, there’s a page of screenshots available.

Stay in Touch

Whether or not you decide to use MailMate then you may want to follow future development. Here are some links to make that easier: