The idea of having zero unread emails in your account is a nearly impossible goal to attain, and an even harder one to maintain, and that probably explains the number of programs and apps that promise a better way of handling email.

Mailbox is the latest and possibly best app for this, and it’s available for free right now. The catch is that they are only letting a few users at a time join the app, so there’s a waiting list of thousands. This has gotten a little worse lately because of the buzz Mailbox is generating, but our number came up recently, and after having used it a little, we’d suggest you get in the queue.

Your first view of Mailbox is a very annoying countdown timer that lets you know how many people are ahead of you in the queue, but once you finally get started, you’ll see that it’s a combination of to-do list and email inbox.

The app makes scheduling so simple that it’s great for dealing with a large load of emails, and it’s also much more readable than the default email application.

Mailbox might not bring you to inbox zero, but if you get a lot of mails that you don’t need to respond to urgently, this is a good bet. In case you don’t want to wait in line, there are other great options too, on all platforms. Our picks:

MailDroid

Android

Setting up your email is simple enough, and the ability to set up email rules is really powerful. This isn’t for everyone, but for power users who are happy to tinker around with the settings, particularly if you get a lot of work-related mail. The average user who just wants a nicer-looking, smoother mail interface is better served with the Gmail app that comes on the phone, but if you need to set up auto-responders, mail forwarding and rule-based filtering, MailDroid delivers. The app is free with ads. If you don’t want ads, it costs 1,021.

Inky

Mac, Windows

One feature that everyone will love is that its smart filters can also take smart actions if you want. Everyone gets a lot of unsolicited newsletters—Inky filters them all into a “smart view", and can even dig through the mails and find the unsubscribe links for you!

Like Gmail, Inky also scans mail and tries to learn what’s important, and provide an inbox view with important mails on top, though like Gmail’s Important mails, this one is a little hit-and-miss. Overall, with its stylish interface and smart filters, Inky is a PC must-have.

Sparrow

iOS

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