Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Searching for perfect mail client...

…or why I will never use Thunderbird as my mail client.

Good mail clients are hard to find

I’m not an organizational freak. I follow few mailing lists. I like to keep my replies along with the original messages (meaning: in the same folder). I have others using my computer to work with their mail (under different mail accounts). I’m lazy but I know I need to backup my stuff. I really like Mac and would like to have one, somewhere in the future.

From time to time, I try-out different mail clients, hoping to find the solution. No luck so far. So, what would be an ideal mail client for me? It needs to:

  • automatically recognize user logged on to the OS, and default itself to it - all users simply click on app icon and work with their email

  • make backup and restore very easy

  • have an “keep replies in the same folder” option1

  • have thread mode

  • be able to reconnect mailing lists threads, on drag&drop

  • allow direct editing of subject and body of the message2

  • initially display message in plain text - HTML view should be there only if I request such3

  • support multiple mailboxes

  • be cross-platform

  • have good address book, which will offer drop-list of possible matches as I type in, and be automatically populated from each reply/forward I d``` objective-c

  • default to quoting entire message when replying and put my signature below

  • have two-pane interface when replying - upper for the original message, bottom for my reply

  • have quote-me button, which will transfer the selected text from upper pane as quoted to bottom pane

  • have both incoming and outgoing mail filters

  • support international characters (personally I need eastern-European)

  • three-pane interface for reading messages, which can be arranged in various ways

1: this greatly removes the need to setup outgoing filters, if you already have incoming ones

2: excellent for mailing lists, when you want to save specific useful message, found in the middle of badly-subjected thread

3: best solution to save you from scriptable mail viruses - you can request HTML view, if you certain that message is safe

What’s on the block?

For instance, Microsoft Outlook has “save replies in the same folder” option. But basically that’s the only good thing in it, for me. Rest of it is out of scope - that app is not an email client. Outlook Express is total nightmare for backup/restore (not to mention lack of any development, similar to other crap from the same software house).

The closest I got to perfect solution is Becky! - somewhat ugly (which can be improved), but has most of the features I need. One of the best is that it keeps all that it needs into one single mail folder. No registry tweaks, no hidden folders. Just copy the entire folder and your backup is there. Restore equals copying the folder back where needed. Click the toolbar button and you can directly edit the message fields. Multiple mailboxes. In/out filters. Automatic recognition of logged-in user. Two-pane interface. Direct message edit.

But also very poor address book. No “save reply in the same folder” option. No cross-platform.

It is so close to being perfect. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell the future of this app, as I speak no japanese (lots of fan sites are in japanese) and new versions are rare (I could safely say none).

Thunderbird sounds like a good solution, especially since I already use Firefox as default browser. But I really, really dislike the concept, shared by all Mozilla products, of having user data in some out-of-sight folder.

Why, with each (re)install, I have to hunt down the stupid name given to profile folder, with the directory path like c:\Documents and Settings\aleck\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\default\6k94g9ff.slt\, instead of having d:\aleck\mail\?

What’s the use of Local folders screen-space polluters? I hated it back then in the Netscape Communicator days, I hate it just the same now. If this is related to IMAP (just a wild guess, I really have no idea what this is for) then this should be displayed only if I have at least one such account.

I heard good things about The Bat!, and even tried it briefly. To do backup and restore, you need to use menu functions, instead of simply copying the mail folder (for which Bat! does asks you where you want it to be).

I can only hope that good people of Japan create decent Address Book and add the reply-in-same-folder thingie, and I’m saved.