A new version of the
It advertises itself as “a better Mac OS X mail client than Apple’s own”.
No, it isn’t.
PowerMail lacks proper support for
Most importantly, its filters don’t work on IMAP mailboxes. Not least that means you can’t build a Global Inbox for multiple IMAP accounts.
It can’t display threaded messages. It only does plain text composition, although the version released a few days ago (5.2.2) can now display HTML emails inline. It doesn’t have anything like smart mailboxes or Thunderbird’s Saved Search folders.
There is no built-in
If you use email like I do, you will stop reading here. This email client is not for you. In fact, it is not for anyone with IMAP accounts, who likes to use threaded views or smart mailboxes. If I wasn’t determined to put the whole story I would stop writing here.
But for people with POP accounts, who value power over usability, this mail client has some sophisticated features, which make it worth reading on.
PowerMail has its roots in Claris Emailer (people too new to Macs to remember Claris Emailer (like me) can see some screenshots of the famous pre-OS X email client here). This tradition is still visible in its main Mail Browser window:
The interface is Spartan, but not unattractive. The message composition window carries on the same theme:
Some powerful abilities lurk behind the interface.
Fast searching. PowerMail uses another CTM product, FoxTrot, for its indexing and searching, and it is fast. And it is flexible. It is possible to build quite complicated Boolean searches in PowerMail that can’t be performed in Mail.app.
Extensive AppleScript support. In addition to the large number of scripts that come bundled with the app, the developer maintains an large archive of applescripts for PowerMail.
Powerful filtering for POP accounts. The filtering or rules options are extensive and include the ability to launch AppleScripts and manipulate the emails in more complicated ways that Mail.app’s rules options allow.
Built-in text snippets. The little box in the lower left under the Recipients field allows easy access to user-defined text snippets and to a text snippet editor. This is a clever idea.
The newly released version (5.2.2) added more features and fixed a few bugs. The full changelog is on the developer’s web site.
The developer has also responded to occasional criticism of support for PowerMail by promising a new 80/3 service guarantee. CTM promises that 80% of emails to support will be answered within three working days.
In summary, this is a flexible and capable client for POP accounts. Its lack of IMAP support, its cost (USD 59 + SpamSieve at USD 25), its lack of features like threading or formatted replies, and the absence of anything like the many fine plug-ins that seamlessly and easily extend Apple Mail count against it.
A better Mac OS X mail client than Apple’s own? I don’t think the Mail development team at Apple should panic.
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Tags: Apple Mail, email, imap, mail.app, powermail, spam