Although this sounds like a title for some science fiction book or movie, it is in fact a way to see your ProtonMail in mail clients such as Apple Mail.

A Review by James Ormiston

For those who don’t know ProtonMail is a secure, encrypted, open source, email service based in Switzerland and has a variety of free and paid options. It offers mobile apps and a web client for desktops.

Using iOS, it’s very simple to see emails sent and received via the ProtonMail app, but on macOS the only way, until now, was to use a web browser login page. This worked fine on the whole, but it wasn’t as convenient as with most other dedicated mail apps. Now, that has all changed with the release of the ProtonMail Bridge… with one small caveat.

That caveat is this; you needed to have a paid up account with ProtonMail for the Bridge to work as the free accounts are not allowed to use this feature. At just over £4 per month (there is a yearly pricing option that can save you money over the monthly payments) it’s not that expensive, especially if it lets you see your email in the Apple Mail application. Setting up was relatively simple but I did find that I had to refer to the online help pages. It wasn’t clear during the installation what I needed to do next, but once I read the help, the Bridge worked fine.

Mail now shows the ProtonMail emails in a folder below the Mail email account and are easy to deal with. The only real problem with using this way to see ProtonMail email is you lose the security of the web browser, as you need to use your password to access them in the browser. I haven’t seen a way to have this email password protected via the Mail app but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to do that in Bridge… maybe you know how?

The Bridge is an application that runs in the background, one that I added to the list of applications to open when my Mac starts up, and it seems to be trouble free. I did find updates a bit of a problem with this app, when I clicked on the update, and downloaded it, I had to try a few times before it installed OK because I couldn’t at first get Bridge to close before the update installation… operator error maybe, but I don’t know.

So now I can just open up Mail and see my ProtonMail email alongside my other email all in one place and, apart for the previously mentioned loss of security reading email this way, I do feel OK as I no longer need to open a browser first to see them.

My only wish is for ProtonMail to add more email apps to the list of supported ones (Outlook, Mail and Thunderbird appear to be the only applications supported at this time) as it would be handy if Spark and Airmail could be added too. One good thing about using Mail as the way to see ProtonMail email is if you have SpamSieve installed. As far as I can see, SpamSieve works just as well as it does with Mail email, sifting out the spam (although I don’t currently suffer spam with my ProtonMail).

I still run Mail in the background while using Spark as my main email application, as SpamSieve doesn’t work with Spark currently. I could be tempted to go back to Mail full time as it works better in High Sierra now.

Another advantage of having a paid version of ProtonMail is the ability to have your own sign off on your email in ProtonMail. With the free version, you were unable to remove the message added to the bottom of all emails sent which advertised that you had sent it via the app and web browser page. Now, I have removed this advert and made my own sign off, adding some personalisation to my emails. Another advantage is you get more features with this payment. You go from 500MB storage to 5GBs, from 150 to 1,000 emails per day, you get Labels, Custom Filters, and Folders, you can send encrypted messages to external recipients, use your own domain (eg: john@smith.com), have up to 5 email aliases and get access to “Priority Customer Support”. Well worth the €5 a month (or €48 per year if you pay annually) in my opinion.

So if you’re looking for a secure email client which just works, the free version may be enough for you (the iOS version doesn’t currently have a print option however). Adding a paid account though, depending on the features you need, and the cost you wish to pay, may be a good way to go. If you have a business, this might be the only email service you would want to use… safe, secure and end to end encrypted for just €6.25/month per user.

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