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I need a single app that replaces both the functionality of Apple Mail and Address Book/Contacts. Or I need a brower extension that integrates Gmail/Contacts. I run OSX but I'm open to alternatives, either web based or Windows based (run in virtual box).

I'm looking for a Email/Gmail client that really understands gmail labels, and has a tighter interface to the address book, or it's own address book.

Here's my dilemma: I've got 6000 contacts, including my 'other' bunch. These are split between forums, friends, and business. Conversations are labeled in Gmail. But this information is not reflected in contact groups.

I don't need full blown CRM with sales reports, etc. Indeed, none of the CRM packages I've examined can do any of the email/address book integration I'm looking for.

Ideally I'd like this to run as a browser extension for either firefox or chrome.

A: I want 'smart contact groups'

  • I want to be able to make a list consisting of anyone who has participated in conversation where any message has been labled with a given label. E.g. group of all people who participated in a conversation where at least one message was labeled "Lilacs"
  • I want to make a group that I've not had contact with for N days/months/years.

  • If I can filter on it, I want to be able to make a group for it, or pull a list of addresses from it. E.g. label:lilacs after:1-Jan-2012

  • Show me all contacts with addresses in the From: To: or CC: fields in messages with Subject:[mailplaneapp]]

B: One click access to conversation history.

I want a way to show all conversations (threaded messages) that this address participated in either as From: or To: but optionally ignore BCC and CC. This gives a quick way to sort people into groups, and to make up the notes field. An email client called Unibox works something like this. It does not handle conversations with multiple people well

C: Simultaneous view of contact card and email.

Lots of these contacts are email address only. They are especially hard. But even with a name, it's difficult. I want an address book that allows me to edit the card, and view the relevant email at the same time. Looking at the address I've usually no clue who it is.

To do this in Gmail contacts, I have to:

  • Mouse over the contact in the list
  • Pause while the summary card shows up.
  • Click on "show recent emails".
  • Usually open one or more emails to figure out what/who this person is.(Sometimes the subjects/labels are sufficient)
  • Try to find out what addtional information I can extract (name, phone,)
  • Keep all of this in my head, or do a bunch cut and paste to a separate window.
  • Go back to contacts.
  • Find the address again.
  • Edit the card
  • Assign the card to one or more group lists.

After: Since I have a three screen setup, I run one browser window with Contacts, and one with Gmail, doing a search for each contact in the mail window. More efficient than above, but it takes two monitors, and either typing or cut and paste the email address from one window to the other.

D: I want an address book that shows what groups the contact is a member of.

This can be done in multiple ways: Having a text field formatted as [group1] [group2]... would be sufficient.

E: I want an address book that show what labels have been applied to this person's messages.

A good label system or a good group system can make up for lack of the other. In essence I'm blurring the line between labels and groups. I want to be able to associate labels with contacts, and use them as a source for making groups.


F: Labelling consistency OR additional conversation label operators:

I want the ability to 'relabel' so that if a label applies to one message in a conversation, it applies to all of them.

Labels in Gmail apply to messages, not conversations, which 90% of the time is a PITA, as it makes negative searches impossible. (E.g. finding all conversations labelled "Foo" is easy. Finding conversations that do not contain "Bar" is difficult, because if one message in a conversation is unlabelled, then the search evaluates true.

This could also be done with additional conversation operators, such as threadLabel:Foo. I have put this in as a feature request with Google.

G: Additional sort methods.

I also want to be able to sort and filter messages and contacts by things other than first or last name.

Examples: * Show me members of group Lilacs who I've had no contact with in the last year. Sort the members of group Lily by the number of emails they have written to me.
* Find me addresses of people I've emailed three times since their last email to me.

H: I want smart merge.

People's addresses change. If you had one contact on your phone and one on your computer, too often they become two different entries on merge.

One program I trialed lost all list information when you merged two contacts. I want it to be smart enough to do the right thing most of the time, based on timestamps.

I: Labels/List by filter:

I want to add people to certain lists on the basis of filters run on incoming mail. This falls out naturally if smart lists understand gmail labels.

J: Regex pattern matching.

I'd like the program to be smart enough to be taught patterns.

E.g. A kiiji response is in a certain format. If there is a name, it is likely on the last line of the quoted response made on the kiiji web site. I'd like it to be smart enough to spot things like, "My number is 780 555 1212" or Call me at…

This intelligence needs to be able to cough up the snippet on demand, so that I can see it in context.


It doesn't have to be Gmail. I will start over with a new client.

I'm open to alternate ways to do things. The terms above are fluid. The key items:

  • Thread based search tools. (or choice of thread/message based)
  • If I can search for it, I can make a list for it.
  • Edit contents of contact card while viewing mail.
  • Can add searchable fields for contacts card.

I'm willing to change email providers if need be.


Addition 1 May:

Gmail Label integration is no longer required. Rather than label integration, a better approach is to be able to have a good freeform notes field as part of each contact's card, or even better the possibility of adding extra fields to the contact form.

A close possibility is Streak. Streak integrates with the gmail web interface very tightly. Streak has the concept of pipelines. A pipelines have 'boxes'. An email conversation can be assigned to a box, along with google docs. A box can be in any of several stages.

This covers most of my day to day needs for tracking customers, but it doesn't have the data-mining capability I'm looking for.


A second possibility is to roll my own using FileMaker Pro. FMP has add-ons that understand IMAP. This is a several month project. I'd prefer an existing solution.


Paring requirements to the minimum, can anyone suggest an email program that allows one to QUICKLY (one click) see all email that involves that person, AND present it in a way that is threaded?

  • For what platform would you need this? "Apple Mail" suggests you are using a Mac, right? – Angelo Fuchs Apr 14 '14 at 8:34
  • Correct. Although I am open to alternatives, either web based or winsnooze based (run in virtual box.) – Sherwood Botsford Apr 15 '14 at 19:41
  • Old question but curious as to how yousolved this. MS Outlook can do your paired down requirement... – Z Z Dec 14 '18 at 13:34

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