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Mavericks Mail is Apple's worst Mail yet

Vincent Danen

December 28, 2013

To begin with, I liked Apple Mail in Mountain Lion (and Lion also). I've been using Apple Mail for a while now for my personal email on my mac, and mutt for my work email on my Fedora box. It works well, and I've gotten used to using a GUI for my personal email and like it.

But then Mavericks came out and everything changed. Seriously... how do you release a complete and utter CRAP email client in 10.9.0, have an update to fix Gmail, then have more Gmail-related fixes in 10.9.1 and it STILL is complete and utter crap? Mountain Lion's Mail worked just peachy with Gmail. This? This ... does not.

Before anyone yacks about Gmail itself... been using Google Apps for years, love it, not changing. Period. I'd rather change email clients. Which, in fact, looking at my mail this morning (after having been replying/deleting/etc mail on my phone the last two days), I see all the messages I've delete still showing as new on my computer, despite having been deleted days ago. Seriously? Even telling it to sync/refresh/get new mail doesn't make those deleted messages (that are most definitely gone on the web UI) disappear. The fix? Restarting Mail. Sorry... that doesn't cut it. I'm not restarting my desktop mail client everytime I manipulate a mailbox on my phone.

So I've been playing this morning with MailMate which looks intriguing. So far I'm liking it. A few things I want to note so that I don't forget when setting it up on the other system:

Some font settings can be changed in the preferences. The mail headers text cannot, but a quick trip to the Terminal fixes it and makes it easier for me to read:

% defaults write com.freron.MailMate MmHeadersViewFontName -string "Verdana"     
% defaults write com.freron.MailMate MmHeadersViewFontSize -float 14

This one changes the "on [date] so and so wrote:" string to "On 12/23/2013, at 9:59 AM, So and So wrote:" (slightly different from the default)

% defaults write com.freron.MailMate MmReplyWroteString -string 'On %m/%d/%Y, at %k:%M %p, ${from.name:${from.address}} wrote:'

All of the other settings are largely set in the Preferences. Some esoteric things are not configurable in the Preferences, so checking the Help for "Hidden Preferences" and "Low-Level Customization" will let you tweak things even further.

The only downside that I've found so far is that it does not support Kerberos authentication (GSSAPI) and I can't find a way to have threads expanded by default. The lack of GSSAPI isn't a deal-breaker (although it sure would be nice), but the thread expansion issue is pretty annoying. The only thing I found is that holding OPTION while clicking the thread triangle or the right arrow key will expand the thread (OPTION+LEFT-ARROW to collapse the thread, but it's a bit wonky and not great as you need to be on the first message in the thread to expand/collapse the entire thread).

Digging into it, it looks fairly powerful. It's a bit steeply priced for a mail client ($50USD) but since I'm in my email all the time... maybe it's worth it? Will need to keep digging/playing during this trial period to see if it's worth the price.

I could always wait to see if Apple fixes their sh*t, but at this point I'm so annoyed that maybe this has pushed me to find something better. Not quite how I wanted to spend my holidays but... meh. I don't get the opportunity to poke around with new things too often, so this is a bit of a refresher.

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