How to Setup Push for Sparrow for iPhone with Boxcar


Last night, Sparrow for iPhone hit the App Store for $2.99, but the highly anticipated email client was released without one major feature–push notifications. If you’re shaking your head, you’re not alone. Push was included in its beta versions for testers, but pulled by Apple because the Sparrow team was caught using an API reserved for VoIP apps.

As explained on their blog:

The difference between the Mac and the iPhone is the Mac version is awake at all times. On the iPhone, iOS systematically suspends all apps activity after 10 minutes maximum making it impossible to send you notifications.

However, Apple provides an API that allows an app to be woken up in case of a network event meaning it is virtually connected at all times like Sparrow on the Mac. For example, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) apps take advantages of this specific API so you can receive calls even when the app isn’t opened.

This solution is the most secure because Sparrow iPhone will be directly communicating with your mail providers via secured protocols.

We submitted a first version of Sparrow iPhone using this API but it was rejected.

Okay, so this is a glaring omission as part of the initial launch, and many people are disappointed–but there’s still hope.

Remember when Tweetbot did not ship with push, but used Boxcar for push instead? Well, you can now do the same with Sparrow for iPhone. Boxcar has updated their mail client list with Sparrow so it’ll open the app when you receive push alerts.

Sparrow has created a quick tutorial on how to add push via Boxcar: 

While Sparrow does not do push, you can do the following:

  • Install Boxcar,
  • Create your Boxcar account or sign in,
  • Add a service “Email Account”,
  • In settings of the service “Email Account” on the iPhone application, choose “Opens”, select “Sparrow”.
  • Now, forward your emails to the email address provided by Boxcar.

If you are on Gmail, you’ll receive a verification email with a code that you will find on the Boxcar iPhone application.

Still not sure how to set this up? Watch Macworld editor, Jason Snell show you how:

Once you’ve setup Boxcar here, don’t forget to install the beta version for Mac. When it is working, it’s pretty awesome. Let me know how this works for you!


  • Christian

    Installed Sparrow last night and I have to say that the UI is amazing. Thinking about installing the desktop version now too. Would like to see them eventually add a calendar app that syncs up with Google Calendar.

  • Anonymous

    The easiest way to get push notifications is to just leave the accounts enabled in on the iPhone so that it polls for changes and you get notified just like usual. In Notifications, under Mail, make sure Notification Center is on, select Banners and View in Lock screen. Turn off Badge App Icon and set Show Preview to whatever you prefer.

    The good part of this is that it notifies you just like it always does. The somewhat annoying part is that if you swipe to unlock right after receiving the notification it will open This can be prevented by turning of View in Lock Screen.

    Seems simpler than using Boxcar and forwarding.

  • Yup that works too, but with the Boxcar setup it’s nice that it opens Sparrow instead of Mail.

  • Christian

    This was really handy. Thanks for sharing.

  • apintoL

    It’s a really nice “How to” but I have a question. It is necessary create a filter? I want push notifications of all my incoming e-mails