I have had a couple of mails recently asking me what I use for an e-mail client and if I like Mail.app and I guess up until yesterday the answer was that I didn’t know! I hadn’t loaded any e-mail client (apart from when I accidentally clicked a mailto: link and Mail launched :).
On Windows, I used GMail web-mail (and GMail tray notifier) for all of my home mail and Outlook 2003 (and Exchange 2003) at work. Previously, I have used Outlook Express, Eudora for Windows (a LONG time ago) and pretty much all versions of Outlook.
I have been thinking recently that it would be nice to have a desktop based mail application for reading my mail (GMail can supply your mail via POP3) so that for example, I can just click those mailto: links :) and these last couple of e-mail’s convinced me I should try it, so I set up Mail.app and let it download my full GMail archive via POP3 (~20,000 messages, yes it took a long time).
So, the short version of the story?
- Q: Am I now using Mail.app to read my mail?
- A: No.
Lack of decent conversation support! This is where GMail has really spoiled me, looking at a conversation in the default view in Mail.app the entire message list view could be filled entirely with the same thread. I found this so unusable after the beautiful conversation model of GMail. It seems like messages from the selected conversation are also highlighted in blue but I actually found this very distracting and it is quite innacurate, often linking things from the same person but with completely different subject lines or missing out half a conversation.
There is a very promising option on the View menu, “Organise by Thread”. This gets close to what is needed in that it collapses each conversation thread to one row in the message panel but then misses by using a tree view style approach that requires me to still look at every message separately.
Of course it wasn’t all bad, I really liked the implementation of smart folders which to me looks like Outlook 2003 search folders (I don’t know who got there first with this feature) but the execution of it in Mail.app is more usable than in Outlook and I managed to set up all of my mailing lists very easily. This feature is more functional than any similar feature I have seen before with the ability to run AppleScript etc on being triggered.
So I am back to GMail for now, I guess the fact that I would still prefer a web mail client over anything available on Windows or Mac shows just how much Google changed e-mail back on April fools day 2004.
Note: I am not 100% pure web-mail, I do use the GPeek widget to let me know when I have new mail. I tried a few widget’s and menu bar thingys for checking GMail and I found GPeek to be the most useful.