Joe Kissell is a frequent contributor to Macworld magazine and the author of numerous books and ebooks about Mac OS X software, including Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger and Take Control of Spam with Apple Mail.
His primary Mac at the moment is a 2 GHz, 20″ iMac G5 with 2 GB of RAM, a 400 GB hard drive, and a second 20″ widescreen display.
HW: How long have you been using Mail.app?
JK: I’ve been using Mail.app as my main client since a few months after the final version of Mac OS X 10.0 was released. I’ll admit that I was not terribly excited by the first couple of versions, and bounced back to other clients now and then when Mail wouldn’t do something I needed. But I still thought it would turn out to be the best choice overall, and for me at least, that has been true.
HW: What other clients have you used (and why did you stop)?
I’ve used pretty much everything. In the Mac OS 9 days, I was a rabid fan of Claris Emailer. I went through a Eudora phase, but eventually I got too frustrated with its odd interface and endless proliferation of windows. I also used Entourage for a while, and liked it well enough, but kept getting annoyed by little details that bugged me (but that Mail got right). I still open Entourage or Thunderbird in a while, when Mail does something wonky and I want a second opinion. Since I use IMAP almost exclusively, it’s never any problem to pop into another client and back again.
HW: What plugins and extensions do you use to make your email experience better?
JK: The one plug-in I can’t possibly live without is Mail Act-On. I rely heavily on rules to keep my email under control, and I find Mail’s inflexibility about which rules can apply when really infuriating sometimes. Mail Act-On solves the majority of those problems. I also use SpamSieve , which has been spectacularly accurate and a significant improvement over Mail’s built-in Junk filter.
HW: What’s your favourite thing about Mail.app?
JK: I like the uncluttered interface, the consolidated Inbox (I have about ten accounts I check regularly, so that’s a big deal), and (oddly enough) the rules–even though you get too little control over when they apply, I definitely appreciate the range of criteria and actions they can use.
HW: What’s your pet hate about Mail.app?
JK: The inability to edit messages you’ve received is quite irritating. I also wish that certain preferences, such as a preference to display the plain text version of all incoming messages and the visibility of the “Apply” button in the Accounts preference pane, were available in the UI without having to hack the plist file.
[Until that happens, see "How to add the Apply button to Mail's Preferences" and "Kill HTML in Mail completely".]
HW: If you could tell the Apple Mail development team one thing, what would it be?
JK: I often get the feeling that Apple thinks of Mail as a consumer-grade product (Ã la iLife), that they don’t want to make it too powerful or flexible because simplicity always wins over utility; if people want something better, they can buy a commercial app.
I’d like to see them take Mail development much more seriously—to recognize that Mail is the primary tool many people use to get their work done all day, every day. And that means making it more flexible, even if it involves more checkboxes and pop-up menus than the average consumer wants to see. They could make a huge stride in that direction by publishing and supporting a proper API for plug-ins.
Same thing goes for Safari–the lack of officially sanctioned plug-ins is one big reason more and more people are moving to Firefox.
You can read more from Joe on his blog or check out some of his fine MacWorld articles on Mail and more:
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You can read other interviews with developers and Mac identities talking about their Mail.app experiences by following this tag cloud link.
- Talking Mail.app: Peter Maurer
- Talking Mail.app: Rob Griffiths
- Talking Mail.app: Matt Haughey
- Talking Mail.app: John Gruber
- Talking Mail.app: Andrew Escobar
Tags: Apple Mail, dislikes, Joe Kissell, likes, plugins, talking mail.app