mail.app: experience so far


OK, it’s been a few days since I ditched Entourage and began using iCal/Mail/Address Book. Overall, I’m liking it. Syncng to my iPhone is flawless. I’m using Growl so that I get notifications of each e-mail, similar to what Entourage and Outlook provide. Searching through old e-mails is fast—really fast. Just try searching for a subject or recipient using Entourage; it’s a vastly inferior experience.

On the other hand, there are some niceties to Entourage. Not many, mind you. But I’d be intellectually dishonest if I wrote otherwise; this was, after all, the PIM I’ve used for over eight years, and would still be using it if only its sync to and from iCal wasn’t so fermisht. Entourage is more elegant when accepting calendar invitations and unlike Mail, provides buttons to accept, tentatively accept or decline a meeting. Accepting a meeting in Mail is easy but I have no clue how to formally decline or tentatively accept it. While Growl notifications are nice, each new e-mail generates a notification instance, so a lot of mail downloading all at once plasters my screen with separate notifications. Nor can I delete an e-mail from the notification as I can do in Entourage. Rather than a button to create a bulleted or numbered list, that requires a visit to the menubar in Mail. Marking a message as unread is a second-level contextual menu item rather than a first-level item as it is in Entourage. And why not have an unread messages view, or at least a way to sort unread messages that preserves sorting by date?

Address Book is fine but the interface is primitive compared with Entourage’s Contacts. Same with iCal. There are no individual event categories, just different calendar groups. Setting an appointment means more typing than with Entourage because there are no dropdowns. And while one can set an e-mail associated ToDo, you can’t set an e-mail-generated Event through scripting. Not a big deal, but I’m used to being able to run a script in Entourage to do this. I also like Entourage’s recurring ToDo items.

So why use Mail/iCal/Address Book? Because they work, sync perfectly with my iPhone and there are no database corruption concerns. With Entourage, corrupt the database and it’s bye-bye calendar/contacts/mail/notes/tasks in one fell swoop. Sure, I have backups and my personal e-mail resides on a server using IMAP, but I’ve wasted many hours over the past few months dealing with sync issues and I like having my weekends back. And so does my family.