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Lightweight native e-mail client
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Oct 4, 2009, 12:06 PM
 
Hello,

I'm switching back to OS X after a few years away. I used to use Thunderbird for e-mail, and of course that's still an option, but I was wondering what other good options exist.

My requirements:
1) Fast - needs to be able to deal with large volume
2) IMAP support
3) mbox format - ideally it'd support mbox natively, but at a minimum I need to be able to import and export to mbox easily.

Other stuff like HTML/rich text aren't necessary. Integration with Apple's Address Book would be handy, but not essential.

Thoughts? Is Thunderbird still the best of the bunch. I'm leery of Mail.app (had performance issues in the past) but I'd prefer a native Mac app if possible. Thanks!
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 12:56 PM
 
Since you're talking IMAP, why not give Apple Mail another look. It won't screw up your IMAP stored email, so you can just test it and see.
It has been upgraded quite a bit, and performance is generally pretty good, even with huge mailboxes.

Yes, on a technical level, the way multiple IMAP connections are opened are not ideal, but on a user level, it's a great email client. If you search the forums, you'll find plenty of discussions about email clients.

If you'd like to pay, you can give Postbox a try.

-t
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 04:11 PM
 
Mail.app is a a complete joke. See the many threads on this forum griping about it. Saving dozens of copies of a message I'm composing to the drafts folder, and then not even cleaning it up when I sent the message? Ugh. Inability to accurately count the number of messages in a mailbox reliably? Ugh. Slowest IDLE support ever? Ugh.

Until OS X gets a proper Outlook port, Thunderbird is the only thing I can recommend.
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 05:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Mail.app is a a complete joke. See the many threads on this forum griping about it. Saving dozens of copies of a message I'm composing to the drafts folder, and then not even cleaning it up when I sent the message?
Uhm, fixed in Mail 4.1 (SL).

Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Inability to accurately count the number of messages in a mailbox reliably?
Get Dockstar. Much more flexible, multiple folders covered etc...

-t
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 05:20 PM
 
I've not been a big mail.app fan for a while now. Despite it not being free I'm feeling the love for postbox. Very nice but not lightweight as per your thread title.
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 05:58 PM
 
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 05:59 PM
 
Mail is indeed a joke, and it still hasn't gotten better in Snow Leopard. I probably have over 100,000 email messages in all of my folders, and when I start it up even on my brand new Macbook Pro it will take several minutes of churning away and thinking about what messages might be new.

Thunderbird/Outlook on the other hand will do what a sane email client should do and only check folders that are marked as folders that should be checked for new messages. On top of this, you cannot unsubscribe to folders in Mail, so Mail constantly checks and fusses over your archived Mail from 2006 and beyond.

Mail is tolerable if you do not archive your email or you otherwise keep your mailbox very small. Even regardless, the way it opens a gazillion IMAP processes (perhaps in an attempt to make up for these deficiencies?!) carries a performance penalty whether you notice it or not, and it taxes the mail server in the process.

So, for the original poster, I would go with Postbox. It is fast, and has much richer IMAP support. I'm not sure why you need a mailbox export option especially with IMAP, and why this has to be mbox, but I'm sure you could find some sort of Thunderbird plugin to do this whenever you need to, or whatever.
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 06:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Mail is indeed a joke, and it still hasn't gotten better in Snow Leopard. I probably have over 100,000 email messages in all of my folders, and when I start it up even on my brand new Macbook Pro it will take several minutes of churning away and thinking about what messages might be new..
Maybe your ISP / mailserver is slow.

Mail in SL has gotten much better for me.

I run two accounts, with combined mails of about 30,000. No performance problems or lag.

-t
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 06:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Maybe your ISP / mailserver is slow.

Mail in SL has gotten much better for me.

I run two accounts, with combined mails of about 30,000. No performance problems or lag.

-t

I have no clue why your experience has been so much better than mine. It's not mail server, as I've experienced the same problem with multiple mail servers, and these same accounts are night and day faster in a Mozilla based client.

The only feature I really find myself missing from Mail is the universal Inbox. Otherwise, the app just feels like a backwards Mickey Mouse app to me.

Oddly enough I just got an iPod Touch, and the Mail client on it seems fine in terms of performance (I haven't monitored its connections to the mail server, but I know that at least some time in the past iPhones behaved poorly). I'm willing to bet that the Mail client on the Touch/iPhone simply checks the Inbox and ignores the other folders until you switch to them. I don't know why OS X Mail doesn't at least do the same thing, this would be a vast improvement over the extreme chattiness and inefficiency of the current model.
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 06:56 PM
 
Turtle, if you would please, open your Mail Activity Monitor (or whatever that window is called within Mail). Quit Mail and then restart it and keep your Activity Monitor visible. How many seconds does it take to check and sync your Inbox? Does it lag on synchronizing all of your other folders? How many seconds before all activity is complete?

Just wondering...
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 07:50 PM
 
You seem to think this actually affects perceived or real performance. It doesn't. Mail is fully functional and operational while synchronisation is done in the background. You can read new mail, reply and sort to your heart's delight without even feeling the slightest lag.

I have five accounts and years of stored e-mails and I've never had a problem with Mail.

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Oct 4, 2009, 07:59 PM
 
It does affect performance. On my old Mac the fans would come on and stay on with Mail open while my computer was noticeably slower overall. On my new Mac it just takes much longer for it to check Mail at launch. Whether it is a problem for you is probably a pretty subjective thing and more apparent depending on what harware you have, but the behavior is literally broken. There is no need for it to constantly synchronize folders that haven't been touched in years, at least at the IMAP level. Perhaps it has to do this for Spotlight, which Thunderbird/Postbox doesn't support? Whatever the case may be, it's kind of brain dead.
     
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Oct 4, 2009, 08:02 PM
 
Ah. I see where your issue might be. I don't archive my mail on the server, but rather on the computer as I have no need for old mail to clutter up on my server.

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Oct 4, 2009, 08:13 PM
 
Maybe Turtle's messages are not all on the server either. Whatever the case may be, archiving mail on the server is something that a lot of companies do, I don't think it's uncommon to want to do what I'm doing. If you work in government or possibly some private businesses, I believe it's even a legal requirement to do so. There was talk at one of my last jobs of offloading archived mail to some cheaper storage medium rather than our SAN for this purpose, but like I said you can't do these kind of things when Mail wants to rape the server with brain dead checks on Mail folders from 2006.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 01:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Turtle, if you would please, open your Mail Activity Monitor (or whatever that window is called within Mail). Quit Mail and then restart it and keep your Activity Monitor visible. How many seconds does it take to check and sync your Inbox? Does it lag on synchronizing all of your other folders? How many seconds before all activity is complete?

Just wondering...
Takes about 30 sec for 4 IMAP accounts with about 100 subfolders in total (this is on my iMac).
(The two accounts, see above, is only on my MBP)

I don't see how this is particularly bad.

My messages are all kept on the server.

-t
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 03:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Uhm, fixed in Mail 4.1 (SL).
Nope, I experienced it last weekend on SL/Mail 4.1 (1076).

Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Get Dockstar. Much more flexible, multiple folders covered etc...
I mean the total message count at the top of the window; I don't use/want the dock icon count.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 03:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Takes about 30 sec for 4 IMAP accounts with about 100 subfolders in total (this is on my iMac).
(The two accounts, see above, is only on my MBP)

I don't see how this is particularly bad.

My messages are all kept on the server.

-t

30 seconds is horrible. Like I said, a sane email client wouldn't sync your entire bloody account, it would sync the folders that it knows receive new messages. It takes me literally no more then 2 or 3 seconds in Postbox, maybe 5 tops if I have a ton of new messages in my Inbox.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 04:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
30 seconds is horrible. Like I said, a sane email client wouldn't sync your entire bloody account, it would sync the folders that it knows receive new messages. It takes me literally no more then 2 or 3 seconds in Postbox, maybe 5 tops if I have a ton of new messages in my Inbox.
Dude, you asked specifically about the time at startup.

How the hell would a client that's not running be able to determine any changes to 1,000s of emails in over 100 folders ?

I'll tell you tonight how much better Postbox fares. I'm highly skeptical about the 2-3 sec.

Here's my speculative explanation: Postbox doesn't let you know at startup that it's still checking all the emails and folders. So it appears to be done, and gets kudos from you.

-t
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 04:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Dude, you asked specifically about the time at startup.

How the hell would a client that's not running be able to determine any changes to 1,000s of emails in over 100 folders ?
It shouldn't have to, that's exactly the point.

Here's my speculative explanation: Postbox doesn't let you know at startup that it's still checking all the emails and folders. So it appears to be done, and gets kudos from you.
No, it doesn't check for new messages in folders other than the Inbox and other folders you have told it to check for new messages in. It's pretty simple really.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 04:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
No, it doesn't check for new messages in folders other than the Inbox and other folders you have told it to check for new messages in. It's pretty simple really.
O'Rly ?

So it's really not an Apple to Oranges comparison. You argue that Apple Mail shouldn't check for changes in folders other than the Inbox.

Ok, fine. But the fact that Apple Mail *does* check all folders does not make it a bad client.
It's not like you can't work with Mail while it's checking in the background.

-t
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 05:10 PM
 
Turtle, I've explained the problems this causes and how it rendered my old computer pretty much unusable while it was pillaging through my entire mail hierarchy. I'm not sure if you are just arguing for the sake of arguing at this point, so I'll leave it at that other than to add that it's not only at startup that it pillages through your entire mail hierarchy, it seems to do this at other random times too.

What Apple does with Mail on the iPods is a much better behavior. If Apple insists on not providing the ability to control which folders are checked for new mail explicitly, it should at least give you the *option* of not checking for new messages until you switch to that folder like it seems to work on the iPod/iPhone.

Like I said, the design is brain dead, and there are no options provided to make it less brain dead for you.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 05:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Like I said, the design is brain dead, and there are no options provided to make it less brain dead for you.
How about we agree that it's brain dead, but also, that it's NOT a performance issue for anyone with a recent Mac (< 2 years old) and a regular size (i.e. not 100,000 emails) IMAP account.

-t
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 05:39 PM
 
I've always agreed with that, although that being said it is hard to call Mail "lightweight" in comparison to its competition either.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 05:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Maybe your ISP / mailserver is slow.

Mail in SL has gotten much better for me.

I run two accounts, with combined mails of about 30,000. No performance problems or lag.

-t
Indeed; I've got 65,000 messages spread across 97 mailboxes (folders/subfolders, sub-subfolders, etc) and 3 accounts -- no lag or performance problems whatsoever. This is on 10.5.8. Mail.app gets my recommendation, OP.
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Oct 5, 2009, 05:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I've always agreed with that, although that being said it is hard to call Mail "lightweight" in comparison to its competition either.
Yes, lightweight (w/o qualification) is very subjective.

Lightweight in what regard ?

Resource use (CPU) ?
Resource use (bandwidth) ?
Space on HD ?
Functionality ?
Ease of use ?

-t
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 05:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Yes, lightweight (w/o qualification) is very subjective.

Lightweight in what regard ?

Resource use (CPU) ?
Resource use (bandwidth) ?
Space on HD ?
Functionality ?
Ease of use ?

-t
I was interpreting that to mean performance/resource consumption/overall efficiency.

Mail has the easiest-to-use UI and nicest GUI, and some nice functionality too. Functionality can be broken down further too, as what is useful to you may not be to me, and vice versa. For instance, I don't care about the stationary feature, although I like the universal Inbox. As we don't need to rehash, Mail is also missing some IMAP specific features which would be useful to me.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 07:14 PM
 
Can we just agree that for most people who are NOT you, Mail is perfectly adequate and in many (if not most) cases superior to other alternatives?

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Oct 5, 2009, 07:37 PM
 
Yes, Mail is fine for non-geeks or people that don't need any of the features it lacks. I mostly weighed in because of the criteria for a lightweight client.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 07:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Yes, Mail is fine for non-geeks or people that don't need any of the features it lacks. I mostly weighed in because of the criteria for a lightweight client.
Hey; I'd consider myself a geek, and Mail is fine for me. Try not to overgeneralize. Everyone who does that is a troglodyte.
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Oct 5, 2009, 08:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by - - e r i k - - View Post
Can we just agree that for most people who are NOT you, Mail is perfectly adequate and in many (if not most) cases superior to other alternatives?
Adequate? Barely. A good experience? No.
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 08:45 PM
 
The fact that you seem to think Thunderbird is "a good experience" speaks volumes.

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Oct 5, 2009, 09:33 PM
 
Is bashing Safari the new black ?

-t
     
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Oct 5, 2009, 09:58 PM
 
Put me in the "Mail works fine" camp.

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Oct 5, 2009, 09:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Is bashing Safari the new black ?
There does seem to be an "Anything but Apple" camp even among mac users.

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Oct 6, 2009, 02:04 AM
 
Not sure how Safari got brought into this, but okay...
     
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Oct 6, 2009, 02:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by - - e r i k - - View Post
The fact that you seem to think Thunderbird is "a good experience" speaks volumes.
You are conflating a well designed IMAP client with a well designed UI for an email client.

Thunderbird/Postbox are the best of the options out there in terms of their adherence to the specifications of IMAP and demonstrating an understanding as far as how communications with an IMAP server should work, aside from perhaps Pine. As far as everything else goes, I don't think anybody is disputing a lacking of Postbox/Thunderbird in the UI department.
     
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Oct 21, 2009, 11:55 AM
 
Thanks for the suggestions folks. Meant to respond earlier, but have been busy these last 2 weeks. I gave PostBox a shot, but ultimately decided to stick with Thunderbird which has proven reliable and reasonably fast, in spite of what I consider a somewhat suboptimal (and un-Mac-like) interface. I didn't realize the topic of Mail.app was so controversial. I did try it, and didn't notice any major glitches, but it also didn't feel any speedier than Thunderbird, and I'm not a big fan of the (new?) storage format. Thanks again.
     
   
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