So after my problems with Mail.app, I really did it: I switched to tbird. The thing that finally convinced me to switch was Mail displaying a subject line for one email and the body of another. Deeply weird, and restarting didn’t help.
About thirty seconds after switching, Torsten pinged me to point out his thunderbird posts, around the same time I started cursing about tbird’s lack of Address Book integration. I know how I can work round this – set up an LDAP server and dump my addresses into that, and then point tbird and Address Book at it. But there’s no easy way to keep the LDAP server updated (Address Book only does read-only LDAP I think), and if integration is just around the corner, I think I can cope for now.
On the whole, tbird is a big improvement. The pluses and minuses:
- I like that folders with new mail (rather than unread) are highlighted in blue
- I like that you can add extensions for additional functionality, like the British English dictionary or the bounce command (a big win for redirecting mails to internal mailing lists and making them appear to come directly from the sender – extremely handy for finding them later).
- Threading seems a bit broken: it’s not on by default, even though I have threading set to ‘all’. So it only seems to work for threads with unread messages. And when I do have threads working, I can’t figure out how to delete an entire thread in one go.
- I like the identity management: setting up separate profiles for each address seems much less hacky than Mail.app’s method of specifying multiple email addresses separated by commas.
- I haven’t figured out how to make all email available offline yet.
- Search that isn’t broken by design! Fantastic! I can select what I want to search, and then enter the term, rather than Mail’s blatantly stupid “type something and I’ll start searching and then you can decide what to search”. It doesn’t appear to be possible to search just a subset of folders though.
- The toolbar could be more customisable … but then more recent versions of Mail started to limit options here too, so it’s not a big deal.
- Memory usage doesn’t seem any better or worse than Mail, but too early to tell yet. I haven’t had to restart every day though, which is a bonus.
And of course the biggest win of all is flawless IMAP support. That alone is worth switching for.
All in all, if you’re a power user of email and on a Mac, I recommend you ditch Mail.app and give tbird a try. It’s definitely an improvement.
Update: spoke too soon. Apple are bad bad bad people. Thunderbird is set to be my default email client, and yet when I just accepted an invitation in iCal, Mail.app started up in order to send my response …. this is not good.