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It's raining mail

In my never-ending quest to find a great mail client, I tried Thunderbird yesterday (the Mozilla mail client).

It seemed like a fine client, but I had some major problems with it. Here’s the problems that I found:

  • Thunderbird’s folder subscription mechanism was both erroneous and did not scale. I have hundreds of IMAP folders — selecting and unselecting all of them (or even picking which ones I want) in a tiny window with no multi-select capabilities was annoying at best. Thunderbird was also convinced that I was subscribed to many folders that no longer existed, so whenever I tried to go in there, Thinderbird would report an error from the IMAP server saying that the folder didn’t exist (duh!). The only way that I could convince Thunderbird that I wasn’t subscribed to these folders was to “delete” the folder (even though it didn’t exist). There were far too many folders like this for me to want to sit through deleting all of them. The subscription mechanism therefore seems to still need some work.
  • Similarly, the “which folders do I want to be available offline” doesn’t scale for exactly the same reasons. It would be really convenient, for example, if there could be a quick shortcut for “all of them”.
  • There seemed to be a nice flexible ruleset mechanism, but it lacked the ability to colorize entries in the index pane. This is a feature that I have grown to love in my current mail client (different kinds of mails are shown in different colors in my index).
  • The search capabilities were nice (search through all folders, even through the bodies of mails), and it seemed to work nicely. But it would be nice if you didn’t have to open a separate window to do it — there’s a search box in the main window, you can only search through subject and sender information.
  • There didn’t seem to be capabilities for multiple “roles” or “personalities” in addition to the ones that you had official accounts for. For example, in my current mail client, I have about a dozen roles — settings that affect the “From” line in my messages, signature, sent-mail box, etc. I have more roles than e-mail accounts for two reasons: 1) all my mail funnells down to one mail server, and 2) my mail server has several different DNS names. That’s a killer feature, and I really need it.
  • There was no ability to save my settings or addressbook on the server. I’ve only seen one mail client have the ability to do this (pine, my current mail client), but it’s really useful. Especially since I commonly use at least 3 different machines to read my mail, when I store all this info on the server, there’s never a need for manual synchronization (which can be a huge hassle); the most recent version is always downloaded from (and saved to) the server. I have grown totally addicted to this feature.

So I’ll stick with pine for now. I really was looking forward to being able to handle PKI certificates properly and having true IMAP disconnected operation. But oh welll….


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 17, 2004 7:35 AM.

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