Original author(s)
  • Dominique Leca
  • Đinh Việt Hòa
  • Jean-Marc Denis
  • Jean-Baptiste Bégué
  • Louis Romero
Developer(s)Sparrow SARL
Initial releaseFebruary 9, 2011; 13 years ago (2011-02-09)
Final release
1.6.4 / October 5, 2012; 11 years ago (2012-10-05)
Written inObjective-C
Operating system
Size12.6 MB
Available inEnglish
TypeEmail client
LicenseProprietary commercial software

Sparrow was an email client for OS X and iOS. After a 4-month beta period, Sparrow went on sale in the Mac App Store on February 9, 2011 and became the top paid and top grossing app in less than one day.[1] On July 20, 2012, the company announced that it had been acquired by Google and was ceasing continued development of the application except for critical bug fixes.



Sparrow uses a simplified user interface reminiscent of Twitter clients such as Tweetie,[2][3] as opposed to a more traditional email style such as Apple's Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird. Sparrow currently works with Gmail and Google Apps accounts, along with other IMAP email accounts. It also includes features such as drag-and-drop attachments, Dropbox or support for uploading attachments, Growl support, Gmail labels and keyboard shortcuts,[4] as well as quick replies,[1] threaded replies and easy switching between accounts.[5]

iPhone version

In March 2012, Sparrow for iOS was released in the App Store.[6]

Acquisition by Google

On July 20, 2012, Sparrow and Google jointly announced that Sparrow had been purchased by Google and the company's employees would be added to their Gmail team. Due to this, they also announced that development of both of Sparrow's apps would be ended except for critical bug fixes.[7][8][9]

The purchase and subsequent discontinuation prompted criticism from some tech sites, who were uncertain about the future of the apps. Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica wrote he was concerned for the app's future given Google's previous history of buying out and subsequently abandoning development on other startups such as reMail, Meebo and Quickoffice.[10] Rafe Needleman of CNET wrote that the purchase combined with the ceasing development of Mozilla Thunderbird meant there was a growing lack of quality desktop mail clients.[11] Rob Beschizza of Boing Boing created a satirical video instructing users to prepare for the acquisition by deleting the app from their computer.[12]

However, TIME noted that the acquisition may lead to better apps for Gmail.[8] Adrian Covert of Gizmodo expressed excitement about a possible official desktop client for Gmail.[13]

Related development

In 2014, Google released Inbox by Gmail, an email app with functionality similar to Sparrow. Inbox was shut down by Google on April 2, 2019.


  1. ^ a b Foresman, Chris (February 10, 2011). "Sparrow 1.0 hands-on: smooth, highly usable e-mail for the Mac". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
  2. ^ Siegler, M. G. (5 October 2010). "Sparrow Is Like Tweetie For Mac Plus Gmail. It's Beautiful, But A Bit Slow". TechCrunch. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  3. ^ Cormier, Jeff (4 October 2010). "Sparrow. A Mac Mail client fluttering aimlessly with little originality". TNW. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  4. ^ Pash, Adam (October 5, 2010). "Sparrow Is an Attractive, Minimal Email Client". Lifehacker. Gawker Media. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  5. ^ Cormier, Josh (October 4, 2010). "Sparrow. A Mac Mail client fluttering aimlessly with little originality". The Next Web. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Hamburger, Ellis (March 14, 2012). "Sparrow takes flight: how a startup built the Gmail app Google couldn't". The Verge. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  7. ^ Cunningham, Andrew (July 20, 2012). "Google acquires Sparrow, integrates it into the Gmail team". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  8. ^ a b McCracken, Harry (July 20, 2012). "Uh Oh: Google Is Buying Sparrow". TIME. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  9. ^ Albanesius, Chloe (July 20, 2012). "Google Acquires Email Client Sparrow". PC Magazine. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  10. ^ Gallagher, Sean (July 20, 2012). "You shall know Google by its trail of dead—a Sparrow user's lament". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  11. ^ Needleman, Rafe (July 20, 2012). "First Thunderbird, now Sparrow? We need e-mail clients, please". CNET. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  12. ^ Beschizza, Rob (July 20, 2012). "How to prepare for Google's acquisition of Sparrow". Boing Boing. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  13. ^ Covert, Adrian (July 20, 2012). "Sparrow's Awesome Email Clients Are Now Property of Google". Gizmodo. Retrieved July 21, 2012.