I’ve always wanted a functional email client for my Gmail account. The web-based interface is just slow and clunky, highly inefficient in when you need to jump right in, look for something, and get right back to work.

Lion’s Mail.app isn’t of much help, as with any other mail client. Gmail’s IMAP access comes with some idiosyncrasies, where the delete function archives your mail, leaving you with tones of useless trash archived without a way to really delete them.

For Gmail’s IMAP access to be usable, a email client needs to be designed with Gmail in mind to take advantage or workaround Gmail’s unorthodox IMAP implementation. Thankfully, such a solution now exists.

I’ve been using Sparrow Mail for a few days and have been thoroughly impressed by the design and the attention to detail the developers have. Instead of the usual delete button in email clients, Sparrow comes with both Archive and Delete buttons, perfect for Gmail. The message list is also collapsable and expendable, allowing it to look like your Twitter client or act like a full-blown Mail.app.

For US$9.99, I think it’s a good steal for a minimalistic and flexible Gmail desktop mail client. Best of all, it supports multiple (and non-Gmail) IMAP accounts, including ShortMail. Take a peak at Sparrow Tips and observe some cool things that it can do.

However, do note that the Sparrow Lite (free) version available in the Mac App Store is a few versions behind and is not fully compatible with Lion. Sparrow Mail, on the other hand, works perfectly.