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Mail Frustration

Holy bejeezus this conversion to Mail is painful. In no particular order, some thoughts.

  • I miss categories and their coloring already. I have to constantly confirm what mailbox I'm in by looking to the left.
  • It's weird that Mail has to "load" messages when I click to another mailbox. I can see the list being built.
  • Mail lacks keyboard shortcuts for things like "next unread message" (and the one I used a lot: "delete and open next unread message"). I'll have to investigate making AppleScripts for these types of things.
  • Speaking of AppleScripts, I spent nearly three hours trying to re-create a set of AppleScripts I used all the time in Entourage. They simply changed the account from which I was sending an email. Yeah, I could have just chosen it from the pop up menu, but I prefer binding specific accounts to specific keyboard shortcuts.

More tk…

  • I have the feeling that liking to view my messages in their own windows will make me an odd duck as far as Mail is concerned. I sense that it really wants me to use the three-pane approach.
  • There's no "rewrap selected text" functionality in Mail? Seriously? How do you deal with messy quoted text?
  • Speaking of quoted text, that stupid line system Apple uses annoys the hell out of me. What's wrong with coloring text and using > characters?
  • I've had to reassign some keyboard shortcuts, like "Show CC field" (it's nice not to have to tab over it).
  • Mail seems to handle signatures better than Entourage, which would often "forget" where a signature was if any text in the email had been edited, leading to duplicate signatures. I've yet to import all of my Entourage signatures, though, so that remains to be seen.

That's enough to publish for now. I'll add any thoughts I have post-publish date in a list below, if I have any more.

  • I can't hold down the delete key to delete a series of emails. I have to individually press the delete key for each email I want to delete.
  • Shift-cmd-U is not a one-handed way of marking as read. I used to go through a mailbox with the right hand on the arrow keys and the left doing shift-cmd-T.

10 Responses to "Mail Frustration"

  1. Here are some observations I've made about Mail over the years that might come in handy:

    • The title bar in Mail bar has the format:
    {Mailbox name} – {Account name} ({Number of messages} messages, [{Number of unread messages} read])

    Which, granted, isn't as obvious as categories and their colors. Just another instance of Apple's "less is more" philosophy in play.

    • To speed up the message list loading, try quitting Mail and running the following command from Terminal to speed up access to your messages:

    /usr/bin/sqlite3 ~/Library/Mail/Envelope\ Index vacuum

    This could take several minutes depending on the number of messages present in your accounts.

    • Mail's most prominent UI feature in terms of message navigation is the table of contents looking message list. From there you can sort messages by various attributes such as unread status.

    One thing you can do to support your workflow is to create a custom keyboard shortcut for View -> Sorty By -> Message Status. Using this, you can navigate to the next unread message via the message list and up and down arrows.

    If the preview area has focus, you can focus on the message list by pressing Shift-Tab twice.

    • The account from which a message is sent is dependent upon several factors the most prominent of which is what mailbox you are currently operating in. For example, if you're reading messages in an account whose address is foobar@gmail.com, creating a new message will have the composition window select your foobar@gmail.com account for sending.

    I think the assumption is that most people will be creating messages relevant to the ones they are currently reading. It stands to reason that they would want to use the same account.

  2. There's a number of mail plugins that might help with some of these issues.

  3. Greg Smith said on November 6, 2010:

    There's a number of mail plugins that might help with some of these issues.

    Cool. Is there some site somewhere that lists the majority of them, makes recommendations, or does anything to help you find them?

  4. One I found that seems to have an up to date list.

    http://tikouka.net/mailapp/

    I normally use MacUpdate.

    http://www.hawkwings.net/ is a good blog covering Mail.app.

  5. I can't hold down the delete key to delete a series of emails. I have to individually press the delete key for each email I want to delete.

    You can delete several messages if the focus is in the message listing. Click in the message listing (or tab into it), then you can do a shift-select and then delete the selection.

  6. Daniel said on November 8, 2010:

    You can delete several messages if the focus is in the message listing. Click in the message listing (or tab into it), then you can do a shift-select and then delete the selection.

    I know how to do that. I prefer sometimes (particularly in the spam folder) to just hold down the delete key until I see an email or two that I want to give more than half a second of thought to (in case it isn't junk).

    Same holds true - to a lesser extent - to mail in my Inbox (most mail tends to get routed elsewhere - inbox mail is often stuff I don't care about).

  7. Just out of curiosity and noting the frustrations you've been having with Mail, did you give any consideration to the version of Office 2011 that included Outlook, or was that purely a financial decision?

    I've been using Outlook 2011 for a few weeks now and the transition from Entourage 2008 was very easy. Granted, my mail is on an Exchange server, so I didn't have a lot of options. Then again, our licensing situation here (major university) gives it to us at no cost so price was not a factor.

  8. Todd said on November 9, 2010:

    Just out of curiosity and noting the frustrations you've been having with Mail, did you give any consideration to the version of Office 2011 that included Outlook, or was that purely a financial decision?

    Basically, I'm tired of paying for my email app and being in the minority among even advanced users. The Student/Teacher version of Office has the apps I need - rarely, mind you - and I don't need Outlook at all. Plus it's probably even more bloated than Entourage.

  9. [...] don't assume from my previous post that everything with Mail was [...]

  10. [...] ditched Entourage in favor of Mail back in November, and despite some early frustrations, I think I'm finally getting the hang of [...]


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