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I don't like Microsoft Outlook. I consider it a dinosaur, a bloated productivity-killer that's barely changed in the more than 20 years of its existence. Certainly it offers few tools to cater to modern workflows.
If you feel the same way, you might like Hiri. It's a desktop mail client designed to replace Outlook. In fact, it works only with Microsoft email: Exchange, Office 365, Hotmail, Outlook.com and so on.
That leaves out Gmail and other accounts, meaning it leaves out a lot of potential users. But if you're in the Microsoft ecosystem, there are lots of reasons to consider ditching Outlook for Hiri.
Starting with price: For a limited time, BBH readers can get a lifetime Hiri subscription for $47.60. That's with discount code BusBargain60 (case-sensitive). Regular price: $119.
I've been test-driving it for the past couple weeks, and while I'm not going to write a full-blown review, I will share a few of the things I really like about it:
- It has a unified inbox.
- The interface is a marvel of simplicity. It's uncluttered, intuitive and just plain easy on the eyes. That's in stark contrast to the busy mess that is Outlook.
- Each message in your inbox reveals a small toolbar when you mouse over it. Thus, you can quickly snooze, delete or reply to an email without having to open it. (Outlook offers this as well, though without a snooze option.)
- Speaking of snooze, it doesn't temporarily hide email; it marks it unread and sets an alert for a designated time. I like that, because a hidden email can be a forgotten email. This, to me, is a smarter way to snooze.
- Any email can easily be turned into a task, and your tasks live in a simple checklist on the right side. (Outlook can also do this, but I've always found its to-do manager an incomprehensible mess.)
- It has built-in interface-sizing options that can compensate for ultra-high-resolution screens, which often wreak havoc with third-party software.
Hiri relies on a variety of "skills" that you can enable as needed -- a great way to keep interface bloat to a minimum. The aforementioned snooze option, for example, is actually a skill called Reminders -- and if you don't need it, a simple toggle turns it off.
Then there's Write Better Subject Lines, which moves the subject-line field to the bottom of the compose-mail window. Sounds odd, but there's logic behind the idea: You'll come up with a more effective, more relevant subject after you've written your message.
If there are other Hiri users in your organization, the Delegate Emails skill lets you forward messages to them as action items, complete with specified tasks that get added to their task lists.
What don't I like? The lack of Gmail and IMAP support is a definite bummer for me, and Hiri has a shortcoming common to most mail clients: When you open a message, it's automatically marked as read. I want the option to leave it unread unless I reply to or forward it.
Those gripes aside, I think Hiri has a lot to offer Outlook users who want more productivity features and less bloat. At $47.60 for a lifetime license, it also stands to save you a good chunk of change over the long haul.
If nothing else, take advantage of the free 7-day trial. The discount code should still be active by the time you come back.