Apple’s Mail is the worst user experience

2005-11-13 – This is my favourite comment, mainly because the reader so obviously failed to read the post. The user interface for Mail.app is well designed, and very functional. It’s that an application and it’s developers continue to release applications with substandard performance and features. This might be perfectly acceptable if Mail.app was an alpha or beta release, but it is production sofware. Blame the user, always the sign of a great developer, I hope your customers can expect better quality service from you as this post suggests you provide.

Apple Mail is the best user experience, i.e., Mail.app rocks! Not sure what your problem is, but I’m sure it has more to do with you than with the app. I’ve used it since it was introduced. It’s simple to use, uncluttered interface, easy to set up accounts (I have 12 email accounts, and I filter mail into a variety of mailboxes). I archive old email to keep it from consuming too much disk space. There are two kinds of problems. User created, and computer related. No offense, but I think your problem is the former.

2005-11-12 – I disabled my IMAP accounts, this has significantly improved performance. But manually archiving, why can’t someone build a mail system that “automatically” archives my messages (leave me alone, I could write an Automator script to do this in a time based manner, but why should I). If archiving email on a regular basis is required by the software for performance, doesn’t this seem like the responsibility of the developer.

I can’t take it any more, Apple Mail is the worst user experience. It’s not a usefulness problem, it’s not because of errors, it’s not because the UI is ugly, it’s because the performance is so poor that the Mail is absolutely unuseable. It has been a long time since I’ve felt like my 1.25GHz G4 processor and 1Gb of RAM were in adequate. But these feelings often come when I am running something more complex than Mail. If I was running Maya, Shake, even compiling a large code base, I could understand. But Pine runs just fine on my command line, it doesn’t seem to crash. Arrrggggghhhhh!

It looks like this is mostly related to my having a large inbox, i.e., I don’t archive anything, and having multiple IMAP accounts. The performance of this application is so bad, that it is forcing me to switch mail clients, yet again.

I switched to Mail from GMail which I switched to from Thunderbird when I upgraded to 10.4.x. Mainly because of the integration with Address Book and iCal. It may be time to reconsider mail programs for the Mac:

Any recommendations?

66 thoughts on “Apple’s Mail is the worst user experience”

  1. Sounds like the root issue is the bulk of your email data. Most email clients that I have used over the years choke after a while. Rather than switching frequently, you might consider adding an archiving process. I use Entourage Email Archive to convert message and attachments to FileMaker Pro format ever since Entourage choked with a 1 GB database file. If you still want to switch again, good luck to you.

  2. Hiya David,

    I’ve also heard that Apple Mail doesn’t play well with IMAP servers. I’m not a big fan of proprietary databases (Entourage, Mailsmith) but Entourage might be a better choice for you. Otherwise, the only email app that’s ever been 100% reliable for me is Eudora.

    I too have done some musing on the subject:

    http://tinyurl.com/dpcvx

    Hope this helps!

  3. Find out what’s wrong with your system.
    Mail works just fine on my iMac -and is very snappy, thankyouverymuch. Oh. And it’s never crashed, either.

    In any event, I wouldn’t recommend Entourage. Under 10.3 it corrupts attachments -and M$ has sofar been unwilling to address the issue.

  4. I use Eudora because I receive and send a huge volume of email and retain everything relevant to my work. I think I have around 22,000 messages stored, have received nearly 7,000 messages this year, and have sent slightly over 2,000. I use my saved messages as a database to search for information I have received or sent at one time. It is not unusual for me to search my entire database of messages for key phrased many times a day, and Eudora always returns results rapidly.

    Eudora may have an aging UI, but no other email program I know of comes close to being able to spritely handle the number of email messages I receive, send, and retain.

  5. You will have the same problem with regardless of what e-mail program you use. The problem is not Apple mail, but rather the way you use it. Mail must be archived on a regular basis â€' it’s that simple. Keep your inbox and outbox under a couple of hundred megabytes.

  6. Never once had any problems with Mail.app on NeXTSTEP and now Mail on Mac OS X. Going on 11 years of use now. Sorry you feel that way. Best email client on the planet IMHO!

  7. <p>Tiger Mail.app is the first version that I can tolerate, and I love it big time. I moved from Eudora. </p> <p><br />
    I use POP access to a gmail account though, and not IMAP. I wouldn&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;t be surprised if IMAP was the root cause of your sorrows, because I have heard anecdotally that IMAP is only well implemented in a few email clients. One that keeps being mentioned is Mulberry (although I have heard it is being discontinued or something). </p> <p><br />
    I use Mail.app in the &Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&Aring;&ldquo;GMail style&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;? i.e. I leave everything in the In Box, and use Smart Mailboxes and the search function to find mail. </p> <p><br />
    I plan to take everything in my In Box, and shove it into a &Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&Aring;&ldquo;2005&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;? mailbox at the end of 2005, and startout with an empty In Box again. Should work.</p>

  8. <p>Hi David,</p> <p><br />
    Mail has failed for me time and time again. I switched to Powermail 7 years ago. To all of the people who say clean your inbox, I say bah! thats ridiculous why should a software program dictate how much email I should have in my inbox.</p> <p><br />
    My in box has over 3000 emails in it and my whole mail database consists of over 50000 emails.</p> <p><br />
    Powermail from ctmdev (<a href="http://www.ctmdev.com/) " target="_blank"><a href="http://www.ctmdev.com/)" target="_blank">http://www.ctmdev.com/)</a> </a>works well for me, I suggest if you want a real email client then switch.</p>

  9. Tiger Mail.app is the first version that I can tolerate, and I love it big time. I moved from Eudora.

    I use POP access to a gmail account though, and not IMAP. I wouldn’t be surprised if IMAP was the root cause of your sorrows, because I have heard anecdotally that IMAP is only well implemented in a few email clients. One that keeps being mentioned is Mulberry (although I have heard it is being discontinued or something).

    I use Mail.app in the “GMail style� i.e. I leave everything in the In Box, and use Smart Mailboxes and the search function to find mail.

    I plan to take everything in my In Box, and shove it into a “2005� mailbox at the end of 2005, and startout with an empty In Box again. Should work.

  10. <p>Apple Mail is the best user experience, i.e., Mail.app rocks! Not sure what your problem is, but I&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;m sure it has more to do with you than with the app. I&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;ve used it since it was introduced. It&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;s simple to use, uncluttered interface, easy to set up accounts (I have 12 email accounts, and I filter mail into a variety of mailboxes). I archive old email to keep it from consuming too much disk space. There are two kinds of problems. User created, and computer related. No offense, but I think your problem is the former.</p>

  11. Hi David,

    Mail has failed for me time and time again. I switched to Powermail 7 years ago. To all of the people who say clean your inbox, I say bah! thats ridiculous why should a software program dictate how much email I should have in my inbox.

    My in box has over 3000 emails in it and my whole mail database consists of over 50000 emails.

    Powermail from ctmdev (http://www.ctmdev.com/) works well for me, I suggest if you want a real email client then switch.

  12. Apple Mail is the best user experience, i.e., Mail.app rocks! Not sure what your problem is, but I’m sure it has more to do with you than with the app. I’ve used it since it was introduced. It’s simple to use, uncluttered interface, easy to set up accounts (I have 12 email accounts, and I filter mail into a variety of mailboxes). I archive old email to keep it from consuming too much disk space. There are two kinds of problems. User created, and computer related. No offense, but I think your problem is the former.

  13. <p>Eudora. </p> <p><br />
    I have numerous e-mail accounts, lots of mailboxes and all my e-mail saved for sinvce 1997. </p> <p><br />
    I am amazed but I don&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;t consider the advertisements to be a hassle at all. I usually don&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;t notice them and when I do pay attention, it&Atilde;&cent;&acirc;&sbquo;&not;&acirc;&bdquo;&cent;s for something I want.</p> <p><br />
    Storing and sorting old e-mail is what I want an e-mail program for.</p>

  14. Eudora.

    I have numerous e-mail accounts, lots of mailboxes and all my e-mail saved for sinvce 1997.

    I am amazed but I don’t consider the advertisements to be a hassle at all. I usually don’t notice them and when I do pay attention, it’s for something I want.

    Storing and sorting old e-mail is what I want an e-mail program for.

  15. Eudora is the best. Unfortunately, it's no longer being updated. But the little details that it incorporates, such as finding the next email by typing in the first few letters of the person's name, return receipt, automatic conversion of urls to links, select text and drag to new location and more, make it far superior for power email use than wimpy Apple Mail.

  16. Eudora is the best. Unfortunately, it's no longer being updated. But the little details that it incorporates, such as finding the next email by typing in the first few letters of the person's name, return receipt, automatic conversion of urls to links, select text and drag to new location and more, make it far superior for power email use than wimpy Apple Mail.

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