This is a combination of a question and a rant, I suppose. When I first came to the Mac platform back in 2003, I looked to see what the best email clients were and was surprised to find nothing that I thought was really strong. I started with Mail, hated it, switched to Entourage, and then since that time I've used or demoed about everything I can find. Powermail, Eudora, Mailsmith in years past, and more recently Postbox and Sparrow. I find all of them sorely lacking and it just keeps begging the question in my mind: why hasn't anyone yet created a truly professional-grade email application? I honestly think there's a huge market for it, and I think a lot of people would be willing to spend $30-50 for an app that got it right.
Right now, I use Mail with the add-ons MailTags and Mail Act-On, and I've got my workflows and practices down to a pretty tight level. I am an adherent of inbox zero concepts/GTD and I practice them. Like many of you I get a lot of email, probably 200-300 per day. There is no application I use on my computer more intensively than email, and yet it's the one app that is probably the most lacking from a development standpoint.
here are some of the things I'd love to see:
- support for IMAP, POP3 and Exchange
- an attractive, Mac-like user interface. Could Mail get any uglier? Why yes, yes it could, we now have Mail in Lion! Holy crap, were they incentivized to make it as dull and unattractive an app as they possibly could? If so, that team must be getting huge bonuses this christmastime.
- industry compliant tagging
- robust search functionality. Let me do quick spotlight-based searches, or give me a search dialogue box where I can construct more complex queries.
- robust smart folder functionality. Mail does ok here, but it could be a lot better.
- global rules (which Mail has but an app like Postbox doesn't), and then the ability to either have the rules applied automatically to all messages, or to fire a rule "on-demand" with respect to a single selected email (in other words, build in Mail Act-On functionality)
- integration with social media. Postbox does a nice job with this. Hit their info pane button and you see a nice summary of all the links and possible social media interactions available via that selected email
- integration with cloud-based file storage, and apps like Evernote, DevonThink, Omnifocus, etc
- an intuitive, flexible layout that allows me to see my accounts and folder structures the way I want to see them, not the way the app forces me to lay them out. Mail does a much better job of this than Postbox, for example.
- integration with industry-standard archival practices. For example, integrate with MailSteward.
Mail is honestly not that far away, but they've been "not that far away" for the last 8 years I've been using a Mac. I keep thinking SOMEBODY has to get this right and step up to fill this need, and nobody does. What I'd really love to see is the OmniGroup (the guys that make fine apps like Omnifocus, Omnigraffle, Omnioutliner, etc...) step up and make "OmniMail". Give me an interface and a user experience I look forward to using, not one I use in spite of the interface. Give me a simple, efficient structure with depth and power under the hood that I can customize and tailor to my workflows.
if any developers read this, I am begging you: create this product. I've read every email app review I can find, visited a ton of blogs, user forums, etc..., and I think there is a huge demand for this kind of an app. If I did such coding, I would take the project on myself, but I'm just a user, not a developer.
Hope it happens someday. From my perspective, it's sorely needed.