After 6 months of being away from Apple Mail because of the Mavericks/Gmail problems I’ve been using Mail again lately. Since the 10.9.3 and 10.9.4 OS X updates it seems to be working better with Gmail. But not all the time (see below).
Things I prefer about Apple Mail:
(1) It’s a lot easier on the eyes than Gmail via a web browser, or Mailplane (which is like Gmail, and has its own built-in browser, but added “client features”). Apple Mail just looks nicer. There is generally better use of space. I feel more relaxed using it.
(2) Image attachments are quicker and work better.
(3) You can have multiple signatures per account (useful in a multi-lingual environment).
(4) You can move messages between accounts.
(5) Editing is better. For example, in Gmail/Mailplane you can’t enter a tab character to line things up! You can in Mail.
(6) In Mail you can “send again” which is really useful. For example, re-sending an invoice later in the month, with some extra notes. In Gmail there is no send again! Or redirect. Mail has both.
(7) I think conversations are easier to read in Mail than in Gmail. And it’s easier to focus on just one message in a conversation.
(8) Even though I use IMAP, I also like having my mail actually residing on my computer as a backup rather than just relying on my connection to Gmail, and the assumption that Google won’t accidentally lose my data in some big accident.
The missing piece to me was that I got used to Gmail shortcuts for doing things quickly, like going to a folder, filing in a folder, etc.
I am happy to report I’ve been able to add “missing functionality,” like the nice Gmail hot-keys and tagging using Indev’s Mail Act-On and MailTags. Mail Act-On is particularly useful. Especially if you overwrite the default hot-keys (function keys on a MacBook Pro are not easy to use) and change them to just letters. For example, I changed F3 to just the letter V and it makes it super easy to file in a folder. Even easier than the Act-On rules I had been using.
Actually, the Mail Act-On key shortcuts work better than those in Gmail. I’m finding it faster and more accurate to use. Plus it remembers recent moves for even faster interaction. (Note: Act-On key shortcuts still don’t let you enter Japanese. I hope Indev fixes that sometime. Filing takes longer if the contact’s name is in Japanese.)
Anyway, I feel comfortable using Mail and Mail Act-On, and hope to get to use MailTags more as I get used to it. I’ve just scratched the surface on what that can do.
The support people at Indev are also super responsive and friendly. See http://indev.ca/ if you are a Mail user.
Update 8/1/2014 and 9/2/2014 – But, I’m back with Mailplane today! Sometimes, like today, Mail just isn’t syncing well with Gmail and it can take hours for mail to come in. Very frustrating. Not to mention work critical! Also there are often Japanese encoding problems with subjects and even moji-bake with bodies. Mailplane works better with Japanese because Gmail itself doesn’t have those problems.
Note: Mail in iOS also doesn’t have the Japanese problems that OS X Mail has. I think the two Apple developer teams should get together and talk. iOS Mail also doesn’t seem to have syncing problems with Gmail.
Mail.app is generally slower though, except for stuff that is saved automatically offline, like already-downloaded attachments.
I would prefer to use Mail all the time if it consistently synced better with Gmail. I feel “edgy” when using Mailplane or Gmail directly. It just doesn’t look as nice, and too much space is wasted by web UI stuff, so I can’t see entire message widths sometime. Anyway, I find it “not relaxing.” But it is more reliable.
So I’m still not sure what to use all the time. I’ll probably continue to “mainly” use Mail and switch to Mailplane as needed if I feel things are not syncing. It isn’t good to wait several hours (or more) to receive an email sitting in your Gmail inbox.
I keep coming back to Mail.app as my main app because it looks and works overall works better – when it is syncing. Of course when it’s not syncing, that’s the problem. So today I have found myself using both.