Hey: A new take on email

Tired of the endless pileup and clutter of your inbox? Wary of the ever more invasive business practices of Big Tech? Just looking for a fresh take on email? Hey offers all of that and more, wrapped up in a charming and well-designed package.

First of all, Hey has beautiful design. Everything is very clear, and there are a lot of little animations that make the app feel alive without taking up too much time. The design makes is very user friendly It’s not like Hey makes it actually fun to clear your inbox—or imbox as Hey calls it, more on that later. But the design is so clean and sharp and so good at giving you little visual cues that it really does feel very engaging to use. It’s also very easy to navigate with the use of keyboard shortcuts and the ability to search past emails by name, email address, or even file format.

Instead of a traditional inbox, Hey provides you with three different destinations for your emails. They are the Imbox (Immediate Inbox), the Feed, and the Paper Trail. The Imbox functions most like a traditional email. The Feed is for things like newsletters, long-form content for reading, and social media updates. You can scroll down it just like a feed on Instagram or Facebook and click on any of the emails to read more. The Paper Trail is for things like receipts, shipping notifications and the like—stuff that you seldom actually need and that tends to clutter your inbox.

After you set up Hey, the first time you get an email from a particular address, it will go to your screener. This allows you to designate which of the three inboxes you want messages from this sender to go to. It’s a bit of a hassle at first, but works brilliantly once you’ve got it up and running. The screening feature takes a way a lot fo the busy work of sorting through your inbox and figuring out what to prioritize. You can switch between Imbox, Feed, and Paper Trail at any time using some hotkeys, or the search menu at the top of the application.

Other useful features include the “Reply Later” function that allows you to put all the emails that you need to respond to in the same page. The format of the compose and reply pages is very minimalistic. You’ll either hate it or be okay with it, but it gets the job done.

Finally, there’s the cost. Hey can be accessed as an application or on the web and works great on mobile as well as your computer. The cost for a personal email is $99/year. This is pretty steep compared to all the free and entirely functional email services out there. One way they justify the cost is through protecting your privacy. Hey, and the company that produces it Basecamp, are very transparent about their data collection policies, which is a definite plus for me.

All around, Hey does email with style and a lot of innovation. Given the yearly subscription, Hey is certainly not for everyone. For most people free emails like Yahoo and Gmail get the job done for a dramatically lower price. That being said, Hey’s usability and workflow have greatly improved the efficiency and overall experience of how I do emails.

Hey is available here.

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