Good Riddance to Apple Mail

Published at 18:34 on 1 December 2013

I’ve put up with it’s broken search function for years. Searching in Apple Mail depends on a fragile and basically broken indexing system that is typically out of step with the actual contents of a mailbox file. Upshot is that a search typically fails to find the message I’m trying to locate.

Then filtering mysteriously stopped working. I had set up a battery of filtering rules to ensure that the torrent of low-priority messages I get on my work computer get shunted to one of two low-priority folders, leaving the main inbox folder for messages that typically have higher priority. This was even worse, as important messages were now getting buried in the torrent of low-priority babble.

The last straw was when deleting mail suddenly stopped working for my Gmail account after I upgraded to OSX Mavericks. I’d delete a message only to have it immediately pop back into existence. OK, time to get off my butt and stop procrastinating about dumping Apple Mail, now.

After a little bit of research, I downloaded Thunderbird because it seemed to have fairly good ratings and I could download it for free right now and start using something that was hopefully not fatally broken.

The first pleasant surprise was configuring my inbox. It was shockingly easy compared to how painful it typically is in Apple Mail, where there always seems to be a crucially important setting buried in an obscure submenu which has defaults to the incorrect value.

The second pleasant surprise came when my messages were displayed: the display looked much like the old Apple Mail did, before Apple started playing games with the display of the inbox in various ways which always seemed to reduce the number of message subject lines and senders you could see at a glance.

The third pleasant surprise came when I set up filtering. There was a most useful “From, To, CC, or BCC” option which let me define in one rule what it took creating four rules to do in Apple Mail. And the filtering actually worked, instead of silently failing for no good reason.

The fourth surprise happened today, about a month later, when I set up Thunderbird on my home computer. I have a bunch of email accounts, and one of them is on a discount hosting service and has some truly strange options. I saved that one for the last. Before I got to it, I noticed Thunderbird flashing a message about checking its database of mail server parameters when I configured one of my other inboxes. So that’s why things “just work” and I don’t have to fight my way through obscure sub-menus. Could it be? Yes: I enter that final account, the message about checking the database flashes, configuration parameters found, done, even the obscure one “just worked”!

And searching works, too.

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