The state of Mac email

by Giles Turnbull

Brent Simmons strikes a chord with his summary of Mac email software failings:

Email is, or ought to be, a keyboard thing--it's about reading and writing. I'm not drawing anything or applying gradients or moving shapes around--I should be able to set the mouse aside.

Since getting an iPhone, complete with IMAP support, Brent’s been hunting for a new desktop mail client, since his previous favorite, MailSmith, doesn’t do IMAP. But Mail lacks features Brent insists on, and no other product quite offers all of them.

It’s a situation a lot of people (myself included) will sympathize with. I’ve spent many long hours comparing email clients, trying to find something that had everything I wanted. Like Brent, keyboard control and IMAP were must-haves for a long time.

I haven’t solved the problem - I reached the same impasse that Brent did. I suspect a lot of other people are in the same boat.


2007-07-05 06:12:28
I eventually gave up on pretty and went for function... and I use mutt. It has every feature I've ever seen, configurable any way I can imagine. It has a huge learning curve, but the community is very helpful.
2007-07-05 06:58:01
The problem with email is that everyone uses it differently. While reading the comments in the linked entry, they were generally contradicting each other in the end. One geek's useless feature is another geek's lifesaver. It seems to me that there simply can't be a mail client that pleases everyone. If MailSmith and Entourage, purchased applications both, can't please everyone, then how can we expect the free ones to accomplish the same impossible task? It's not like these apps are bad, it's just that they just don't meet a population segment's (very) particular need. Yes, snippets would be nice, but fewer beachballs is more important.

2007-07-05 11:26:02
i think philip is one email client will satisfy everyone...i think gruber says the same in his reference to the simmons article. i hate Mail b/c it's slow and has a habit of losing keychain info and stalling...but it plays nice with address book, iphoto, and has IMAP (i want to use mailsmith, too, but need IMAP).
Phill Kenoyer
2007-07-05 12:53:29
I would love to see a Cocoa version of Mutt.
2007-07-06 01:34:10
Mulberry is certainly not for everyone, but for some it works pretty well. Especially for those IMAP users with a server-side search index, server-side filtering rules and server-side spam filtering.
2007-07-07 00:07:28
Briefly, I'd be satisfied with an OS X mail client that's kind of a hybrid of:

Apple Mail (Cocoa UI; OS integration) + Mulberry (stability; mature IMAP) + mutt (features; customizability; keyboard-only usability) + Gmail ("folderless" mailstore)

With features like:

• Virtual mailboxes
• Diverse viewing styles, e.g. a combination of Gmail conversations and traditional threading

... and many that are obvious and some that are relatively unique.

2007-07-10 13:18:06
Thunderdird is OK. But as a switcher I'm used to apps that don't look OSXish ...

Has the most important extensions, namely Nostalgy (filing messages to folder with bash like completion) and Quicktype.

Well you'll trade the extensibility of XUL for OSXish-look and OS X integration.

Vincent Danen
2007-07-10 14:04:57
mutt.. the one and only. Tried them all, hated something about them all. mutt is the only one that does everything I need and does it right. A GUI interface to mutt would rock, but I live in terminal anyways so it doesn't matter much.