Experimentin' with Mail

Thunderbird and Mail.app icons Let’s get down to it, I like Thunderbird, having used it since it’s early beta period, but my will has been overcome by the siren song of Apple’s Mail.app. The loudest and clearest voice in the chorus emanates from Hawk Wings, a site dedicated to Mail, its plugins and tips that will improve the experience.

So, a week and a half ago I pulled Thunderbird from the Dock, forcing myself into full time usage. I like it. The shift isn’t drastic, and I don’t recommend that people change on a whim unless, like me, they like to tinker with apps, diving into the details that most people don’t think (nor care) about.

I do have one gripe so far: I lost a few of my outgoing messages as Mail didn’t detect the existing Sent folders, nor did it create a new one for its use. So, until I figured out that I could specify a folder to act as the Sent box, my messages went out, but were not copied to an archive for my later reference.
In an effort to sort all of this out for myself, and possibly provide a useful, though small resource for others, I’m writing up my experiences with Mail and documenting the changes I’ve made, the plugins I’ve installed or uninstalled and my general thoughts on the matter. There isn’t a lot of detail yet, but this entry will expand as time allows.

My Setup

OS: 10.4
Platform: Intel (MacBook Pro)
Mail Version: 2.1.1 (752.3) – at time of writing
Account Type: IMAP – this is important as it directly impacts some core functionality as all of my mail stays on the server.

Modifications

Stamp icons for Mail.app

Configuration Changes

Plugins

  • Letterbox provides a three pane view for Mail, much like Outlooks layout.
  • IMAP-IDLE adds the ability for Mail to communicate with the mailserver so it can be told when new mail has arrived instead of connecting with the server ever N minutes to check. Efficiency is a good thing.
  • MailActOn makes it easy to set up simple or complex chains of commands available at the touch of a key. I haven’t put this to any real test yet, but I think it will be a core component of how I use Mail. Works with MailTags.
  • MailTags provides the ability to assign keywords, priorities and other meta data to messages. Combine it with MailActOn for even more powerful capabilities.

Wishes

I’d be even happier if Mail would:

  • automatically set up or detect and use an existing ‘Sent’ folder for my IMAP account, and
  • allow me to define how long a message should be viewed before it is marked as ‘read’, allowing me to quickly arrow through messages to find the one I want without losing the unread status of the others, and
  • allow me to dock the activity viewer, or provide a small status bar.

I’ll expand this as I learn more, and welcome any feedback, suggestions or questions that you may have!

Thunderbird 1.0 Takes to the Skies

As reported on mozilla.org, Thunderbird 1.0 has been officially released! This is great news!

I expect I will be installing it on several family machines over the upcoming month. Why? Because it has been a solid e-mail client throughout its beta period, and has gotten easier to use with every release. It also provides a wealth of great features, including:

  • Adaptive spam filters – “Thunderbird’s junk mail controls learn and improve from emails that you receive to stop spam.”
  • “Saved search folders and search bar – To help you find emails faster you can save common searches in virtual folders and find emails with the search bar.”
  • Extensions (just like Firefox)
  • Simple migration from other e-mail clients
  • Message grouping (I haven’t used this much, but plan to soon)
  • Cross-platform support – You can use it on a Mac, PC or *Nix without any problem

Download your copy today!