Over 100 million people are using Gmail. Having grown over 40% last year, it seems to be hot on the heels of Yahoo, AOL (really?) and Hotmail, and it’s no wonder, considering the unique “conversation-style” way to group email exchanges, labels instead of folders, 2GBs of free storage, the search capabilities and highly-tuned spam filters.

But enough about that. Even with the inclusion of themes and other preferences, Gmail still lacked some of the features that make me hold Apple Mail so dear, such as offline access (for when I need to read/find/compose an email without internet), the ability to drag an attachment directly into my email (because I’m lazy efficient) and the personalization options that come with desktop applications (hey, I like to customize my stuff!), among other things.

Mailplane, an application designed to “bring Gmail to your Mac desktop,” takes what is already great about Gmail and makes it better.

Here’s what Mailplane adds to Gmail (in their own words):

Drag ‘n’ Drop Attachments
Attaching files and folders has never been easier. Drag ‘n’ drop your files and folders to Mailplane. Watch as they attach to the message and instantly upload.

Send Optimized Photos
Picture-sending made simple. Mailplane automatically resizes and optimizes your pics to reduce the size of your message.

Instantly Send Screenshots
With Mailplane, capture your screenshot and attach it to your message in a single click.

iPhoto Plugin
With Mailplane’s iPhoto plugin, sending pics from iPhoto is as simple as selecting your photos and pressing the email button.

Unlimited Gmail Accounts
Add unlimited Gmail accounts (or Google apps for domain accounts), and switch between them without restarting Mailplane. And there’s no need re-enter passwords every two weeks. Mailplane store them safely in your Mac’s Keychain.

Download Features
Download attachments and then reveal them in Finder. Or, if the attachment is a photo or .ZIP file containing pictures, you can directly import to iPhoto.

Get Notified
Mailplane lets you know when new mail arrives—by playing a sound, displaying your unread messages in the application icon, or by the Growl notification system. Plus: Monitor all your accounts using the Accounts Drawer or the Status Item.

Talk with your Buddies
Mailplane shows a Growl notification when someone wants to chat. The Google Talk Gadget (displayed in separate window) offers Video/Photo Preview and other nice features.*

*Sidenote: Growl is awesome. More on this next week…

Extras
Full keyboard-control of Google Mail using Mac keystrokes, flexible and customizable toolbar; mail-sending from address book, safari or any application showing “mailto” URLs and more.

Gmail is not my primary account since I have a MobileMe membership, but I use it for all email that doesn’t directly come from friends or family (i.e. newsletters, contests, etc.). However, with Mailplane and Google’s added integration and other services (see above!), it may just win out as my main mail client yet…

If you’re not using Gmail already, Mailplane just might change that. And you know what they say about Gmail users…

Mailplane is $24.95 for a single license, and $15 per license for 2 or more. It requires Mac OS X v10.4.11 or higher.

Read more about Mailplane.
Watch screencasts on how to use Mailplane.
Download Mailplane.

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