Migrating from Spark

Shortwave is the best Spark Mail alternative, offering a snappy, beautifully designed app with the world's smartest AI Assistant. Shortwave's focus on speed, efficiency, and minimalistic design, coupled with powerful AI, helps you stay on top of your inbox and save valuable time each week.

We make the switch from Spark to Shortwave easy, with all of your most important information, habits, and workflows syncing seamlessly between the two. Learn how to transition your Spark Mail data and workflow to Shortwave without missing a beat.

Note: Currently, Shortwave only supports Gmail & Google Workspace accounts.

Import your data and settings

Shortwave is built on top of Gmail, which in turn syncs with Spark, so we keep your data synced between all platforms:

Folders, labels, and filters

Spark folders are based on Gmail labels, which are automatically imported into Shortwave when you sign up. Any changes made to labels in Shortwave are immediately synced back to Spark. This means you can take full advantage of Shortwave's Smart Labels knowing your Spark inbox will be kept in the loop.

Smart Labels work similarly to Spark’s old smart folders features, letting you create auto-apply rules based on senders. You can create filters in Gmail to apply labels based on more advanced criteria such as domain, keyword, or recipients.

Note that since Gmail filters sync back to Shortwave, this means that filters causing threads to skip your Spark inbox will cause the threads to also skip your Shortwave inbox. Skipped threads can be found in Shortwave via search. But if you want them to always enter your Shortwave inbox, modify your Smart folder rules or manage filters in Gmail's filter settings page.

Additionally, changes made to a folder in Spark or Gmail, such as creating a new folder, or edits to a label's name or color, are synced to Shortwave daily. To force Shortwave to fetch your latest label changes immediately, click the Refresh Gmail data button from Shortwave Settings > Support. Note that this does not apply when adding or removing a label from a message, which will always sync instantly between Spark Mail and Shortwave.

Pins

Pinning emails in Spark is useful for quickly categorizing emails, but pins lack the flexibility and organization needed for managing a large number of tasks effectively. With Shortwave’s stars and todos, you can categorize emails more dynamically—stars for quick tasks and todos for complex tasks.

There are 3 settings you can configure to customize how stars behave and tailor things to suit your workflow. If you want stars to behave similarly to pinning in Spark, we recommend the following configurations via Setting > Inbox > Stars:

Star settings – Pin

  1. Disable Show “Starred” section
  2. Disable Unstar when marking done
  3. View all starred threads on the Starred page

Priority

Marking items as priority in Spark is useful for temporarily highlighting emails, but it can be a time-consuming action to flag every email manually. In Shortwave, you can mark threads as “important” and view them in a dedicated, reorderable split, so you have a clear and focused list to tackle whenever you’re ready.

Additionally marking threads as important teaches Shortwave what types of emails and senders matter most to you. This helps Shortwave more accurately flag important emails so you never miss a critical message.

Alternatively, if you don’t use the pin feature in Spark, you can instead configure Shortwave stars to behave like Spark’s priority emails following this setup via Setting > Inbox > Stars:

Star settings – Priority

  1. Enable Show “Starred” section
  2. Set “Starred” section size to 25 threads
  3. Disable Unstar when marking done

With this configuration, just like marking as priority in Spark, starring a thread in Shortwave will move it to the top of your inbox in a dedicated, reorderable “Starred” section for lightweight tasks that you need to keep top of mind.

Signatures

Shortwave currently syncs your default Gmail signature. If you have created a custom signature in Spark Mail, copy it over to your Gmail signature so that you may apply it to your outgoing emails from Shortwave.

If you opt to enable a signature, you will see a signature icon at the bottom of the compose box. Clicking it will allow you to toggle between including or removing your signature for individual messages.

If you want to modify your signature, you can make edits from your Gmail settings. After doing so, sync these changes to Shortwave immediately via the Refresh Gmail data button from Shortwave Settings > Support.

Aliases

On sign-in, Shortwave syncs any aliases associated with your Gmail account. Just like in Spark, you can configure your alias preferences to always reply from your default address, or from the same address the message was sent to via Settings > Compose > Aliases. When sending an email, you can also choose to change the sending alias by clicking the reply arrow in the top left of the compose box.

To update your default address, you'll have to edit your account settings from Gmail.

Shortwave automatically imports your last 90 days of email history on sign in. Find out how to import your full Gmail history.

Transition your workflow

Supporting done, multiple inbox layouts, and custom bundles to group related emails, Shortwave makes it easy to migrate your inbox triage practice regardless of your Spark Mail settings.

Inbox layouts

You can customize your Shortwave experience to match with three inbox layout options via Settings > Appearance > Layout:

  • Split view: Like Classic Spark, see your email list and the selected email side-by-side
  • Fullscreen: Like Spark Desktop, focus on one email at a time with a distraction-free view
  • Default: Shortwave’s dynamic view with multiple panes for bundles and reading

Managing multiple inboxes

Shortwave makes it easy to sign into multiple accounts on each device and quickly switch between them. While there is no option to view a unified inbox like Spark, you can easily jump to another inbox using the keyboard shortcut CTRL 1, 2, 3, etc. On the mobile apps, switching accounts is as simple as swiping your account avatar.

Having separate inboxes for your accounts helps reduce context switching, as checking work emails vs personal emails requires different mental effort and can disrupt your focus when trying to get deep work done. See our guide on how to manage multiple accounts as well as unified inbox workarounds.

Group senders, newsletters, and notifications

While Spark categorizes your emails based on people, newsletters, and notifications, Shortwave not only allows you to set up the same configurations, but also lets you customize things further with bundles based on your preferences.

Bundles group related threads and senders together so you can easily take bulk actions and triage emails with less context switching. You can configure similar bundles via Shortwave Settings > Inbox > Bundles & schedules:

Group by sender — bundle emails from preferred senders for easy access

Newsletters

Notifications

Maintain your routine

Years of using the same email client comes with muscle memory that's hard to overcome. Luckily, switching from Spark Mail to Shortwave means you can keep all of your email habits intact, from using keyboard shortcuts, to writing with AI, to having a dedicated app in your dock, and everything in between.

AI compose & AI Assistant

Between instant AI replies, improving your drafts with AI, and having a built-in AI Assistant for natural language search, Shortwave ensures that you have the right tool for every situation. Compared to Spark +AI features, Shortwave’s robust AI Assitant and AI writing tools offer more accurate and personal sounding results thanks to Shortwave’s custom cutting-edge AI technology.

See our guides for more information on how to get the most out of the AI Assistant and how to write emails using Shortwave’s AI.

Keyboard shortcuts

Shortwave supports many of the Spark and Gmail keyboard shortcuts you're used to, plus a whole lot more—including shortcuts for thread actions, email formatting, and navigation. Like Spark, a blue highlight indicates what thread or section keyboard shortcuts will affect.

To reference Shortwave's primary shortcuts from the app, press

Ctrl

/ (Ctrl / on Windows) to open the help box. You can also read a full list of support keyboard shortcuts in our Shortcuts guide.

Download the desktop & mobile app

While Shortwave works in a web browser, if you’re looking for a dedicated email app to keep pinned to your dock like Spark, Shortwave is available on Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS. See our downloads page for instructions on how to install Shortwave on all of your devices.

Set aside & email focus schedule

Spark’s handful of features for dealing with email in batches at a specific time is something we’ve built as a streamlined workflow in Shortwave. In lieu of creating an email focus schedule, or deciding to use set aside vs. snooze, Shortwave lets you set delivery schedules so you can defer when different types of emails arrive in your inbox. You can enable delivery schedules via Settings > Inbox > Bundles & schedules.

And for those emails that you never want to see? Set the delivery schedule to “Never” to automatically mark these emails as done on arrival.

Gatekeeper

Like Spark’s Gatekeeper, you can easily guard your inbox against clutter by blocking unwanted senders and noisy marketing emails. In Shortwave, new senders have a banner at the top of the email thread with a one-click option to block and unsubscribe. Blocked messages will be immediately sent to your trash, keeping your inbox permanently cleaner going forward.

Command center

Shortwave’s command palette replaces Spark's command center for navigating and taking actions across the app, no matter where you are. Use the shortcut you’re already familiar with:

Ctrl

K (Ctrl K on Windows) to pull up the command palette and start typing. See our guide for a full list of commands.

FAQ

  1. What happens if I snooze a thread in Shortwave?

    Snoozed threads in Shortwave don't show up as snoozed in Spark Mail. Instead, they get temporarily archived. However, rest assured that a thread snoozed in Shortwave will still show up in both your Spark and Shortwave inboxes at the exact same time when it un-snoozes or a scheduled delivery arrives.

  2. What happens if I schedule a message in Shortwave?

    Messages scheduled to send in Shortwave won't show up as scheduled messages in Spark Mail. However, you can view these via the Sent page in Shortwave to edit, delete, or send messages ahead of their scheduled time. Once sent, threads will show up as sent in both Spark and Shortwave.