If you like K-9 Mail, you're gonna love this email app

In the never-ending quest to find the perfect email client, Jack Wallen stumbles across K-@ Mail and is impressed with what he sees. Could this be your next email client?

K-@ Mail

Email is a crucial aspect of the Android platform. For many, the built-in email client is just enough to get them by. Others, however, want more from the software they use as their primary means of communication. Thankfully, with the Android platform, there are a number of options. One of those options is a new take on the already popular K-9 email.

K-@ Mail (pronounced Kat Mail) offers the same features of K-9, but with an improved interface. Here are some of the features you'll find with this email app:

  • Much-improved user interface
  • Automatic setup for many popular email services, including Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail
  • Support for IMAP, POP3 and/or SMTP (Exchange support coming)
  • Split-screen views on tablet-sized screens
  • Advanced email widget
  • Rich-text editor
  • Swipe messages to delete, archive, or mark as spam
  • Text-to-speech notifications based on user activity (such as driving, cycling, and walking)
  • Localized in more than 20 different languages
  • Encryption and signatures (PGP in conjunction with APG)
  • Integration with DashClock widget, Nova, and Apex Launcher
  • Highly configurable and customizable

There is a Free and Pro version -- the free version includes a K-@ Mail signature at the bottom of every mail, and the paid version has more options available for the rich-text editor. The Pro version will set you back $4.95 (USD).

Let's get to know this new take on K-9 Mail by way of installation and setup. In later posts, I'll tackle specific features and how-to information. For now, let's see what this app has to offer.


As you've come to expect, the installation of K-@ Mail is quite simple. We'll install the free version (you can then decide if this email app is worth an upgrade to the Pro version). Just follow these steps:

  1. From your Android smartphone, open the Google Play Store app
  2. Search for k-@ mail
  3. Locate and tap the entry for K-@ Mail by 1gravity
  4. Tap Install
  5. Tap Accept
  6. Allow the installation to complete

That's it. You're now ready to run the app and set up your email account.

Set up

When you run K-@ Mail for the first time, you'll be presented with an account setup wizard. By default, it will most likely pick up the Gmail address you've configured for your device. You can use that account (K-@ Mail has outstanding support for Gmail), or you can set up a POP or IMAP account. If possible, always opt for IMAP to ensure that you retain email on all devices that use the account).

Let's assume you want to set up an IMAP account. Here are the steps involved:

  1. On the first screen (Figure A), erase the Gmail address and enter the IMAP address and password to be used, and then tap Next
    Figure A
    Figure A
  2. Tap the IMAP button
  3. In the resulting screen, check to make sure your incoming settings are correct (IMAP server, security type, authentication, port, etc., as shown in Figure B)
    Figure B
    Figure B
  4. Tap Next
  5. If applicable, accept the certificate by tapping Accept Key
  6. Tap Next again
  7. Check the settings for the outgoing server (SMTP server, security, port, require sign-in, authentication, credentials)
  8. Tap Next
  9. Accept the certificate (if applicable) by tapping Accept Key
  10. Tap Next again
  11. Check the Account options (Figure C) for poll frequency and number of messages to display
    Figure C
    Figure C
  12. Tap Next
  13. Enter a name to be displayed on outgoing messages
  14. Tap Done

At this point, K-@ Mail will begin downloading email and folders (if you've set the account up as IMAP). You should now see the K-@ Mail Accounts window (Figure D). Here you can either open a combined inbox (if you have multiple accounts set up), or you can open up an individual account inbox by tapping on the account in the lower pane.

Figure D

Figure D
The K-@ Mail Accounts window.

From the Inbox screen (Figure E), you can open up the various folders by tapping the bottom left icon, search your emails by tapping the search icon (second from left), compose an email by tapping the center icon, refresh your inbox by tapping the refresh icon (second from right), or open the menu by tapping the far right icon.

Figure E

Figure E
The K-@ Mail Inbox window.

The menu associated with the Inbox window offers the following options:

  • Sort by...
  • Group by...
  • Select all
  • Send messages
  • Expunge messages
  • Settings

The Group by option allows you to group by:

  • Date
  • Arrival
  • Subject
  • Sender
  • Star
  • Read/unread
  • Attachments

Grouping by Subject effectively allows you to do threaded viewing. Although it sounds similar, the difference between, say, a Sort by Sender and Group by Sender is subtle. If you Group by Sender, all emails from the sender will be grouped under the name (Figure F). If you Sort by Sender, the emails will simply be listed according to name of sender.

Figure F

Figure F
K-@ Mail Group by Sender.

If you're a fan of K-9 Mail, but you wish it had a better interface, wish no more. With K-@ Mail, you get the best of both worlds (plenty of configuration options and an easy-to-use interface).

What do you think? Does this sound like the ideal email client, or is there still something missing for your needs? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....