*UPDATE* Jul 04, 2007
I *love* the Internet! Two years later there’s still people who get here from tuaw, search engines and so on. Many of the comments over at tuaw make sense, please read them for suggestions. Since when I wrote this rant, the whole Mac platform (which I still use) has become *a lot* faster, and my habits in term of email handling have changed a little bit. But the new setup is material for another post…
Before you all jump at my neck asking why I’m not simply use Thunderbird and stop whining, I’d like you to think about this: if nobody ever expresses his discomfort with things, what will make them better? Why do I want to stick to Mail? It has more advantages to me (integration with the OS) than disadvantages (see above), but there’s… room to grow. :)
That said, here you are:
- it does not have a keyboard shortcut for going to the next unread message. I can understand that my mail setup with server-side filtering may not be typical, anyway any modern mail client MUST support this feature (Thunderbird and Mutt do, just to name two). This is by far the most usage-impairing lack
Update 2006-07-18: thanks to this post on Daring Fireball I see now there is an applescript that you can use together with something like FastScripts to achieve this result. Anyway, beware: it selects the next unread message only in the same folder.
- being unable to switch from unread to unread, an average Joe user like me would expect at least a multi-state label to see only read/unread/flagged/younameit messages of a folder: sorry, you’re out of luck. You’re expected to skim over all the 1400 messages of your inbox to find the unread ones, if sorting by date/from/subject does not help (at a painfully low speed, I’d add)
- it does not support IMAP folder subscribing: yes, I’d like to keep all my old mail online for fast searching and archiving; no, I don’t want you to look inside the 10k messages buried inside that 1999 folder for new messages
- “Smart” folders would sometimes better referenced to as “Dumb” folders: if the software gives me the opportunity to create a folder with a rule that shows messages matching a condition, I’d expect it to update dynamically. For example, for a folder with all and only unread messages, I’d suppose that it gets updated whenever I read one of the messages inside another folder. Instead, it keeps listing it unread even if I changed to folder “foo” and read all the new messages inside
- sometimes (at least in my case, with dovecot as imapd) it just forgets I did already read a message, and as soon as I check mail again, it pops up as unread. It may be a specific imapd problem, but Thunderbird does not exhibit the same behavior
- it is poorly integrated with the Network Preferences: if switching locations enables me to switch over http(s)/ftp proxies, how can it be possible that some of the clever Apple engineers didn’t think that maybe I’d like to switch over SMTP servers too? It’s not 1995 anymore, people don’t relay happily messages from outside their network, and the average traveling user is f**ked waiting his messages not to go through to select another server, for each message waiting to be sent. I solved the problem relaying mail inside a tunnel to my mail server from everywhere, but I wouldn’t call this a solution (nor using tls/ssl authenticated smtp)
- it does not support “sane” indented threads. Yes, it makes its best to group messages by Reference, but it’s just half way between Outlook and a normal email client (again, Thunderbird and even Mutt can properly indent mail subjects inside a thread. Heck, even gmail came out with a clever method)
- it uses an incredible amount of CPU: on my small iBook G4/1.2GHz can easily suck 50/60% (not counting mds/mdsimport, i.e. Spotlight). I know, I should have bought a PowerBook, but a +30% price tag has its power.
it does not support PGP natively. Ok, this would really be a plus, and PGP/GPG can be get working right away with little effort — but it would be nice after all that PGP mail encryption/signing could be supported out-of-the-box, it looks to me they are stable and widespread enough, isn’t it?
*update*: I meant Thunderbird, not Firefox – almost obvious