Ultimately, however, this is a case of a large company moving too slowly. There may be a fantastic new iteration of Entourage in the works, but I need a fast, nimble and Intel-friendly email client today. So I’ve switched over entirely to Apple’s Mail; there’s just no arguing with its lightning fast search performance, its Mac OS X native fit and finish, and the fact that it’s available right now.
I’m actually not a stranger to Mail, though. I’ve been using it for four years or so alongside Entourage, which handled all my personal mail, as my primary client for handling work-based email. So I’ve been able to compare them closely for a good, long time. There are definitely pluses and minuses to both, and were it not for Entourage’s slow performance on Intel-based Macs, I’m not sure I’d be switching.
There are some things about Mail that annoy me to no end. For example: its stubborn unwillingness to retain custom column viewings in Smart Mailboxes is one of the big ones. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why Apple doesn’t find it important that I’ve decided to view a Smart Mailbox with, say, the ‘Size’ column displayed. Or, at least, they don’t find it important enough to remember to display it for me again the next time I return to that Smart Mailbox. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.
On the other hand, there are some upsides, too. Rather than accessing my mail via POP3, as I’ve been doing for years, I’m now accessing it via IMAP, which stores it on the server. Over the years, I’ve tried IMAP for my mail various times, and have always felt frustrated by the poor responsiveness of having to manipulate a mail database remotely. Apparently, any sluggishness I experienced was all a result of the mail clients I was using, because Mail is very responsive with IMAP, to the point where it’s a nearly seamless experience, more or less exactly how IMAP was intended to work. This allows me to move easily between work and home computers while keeping my mail database in sync, and without effort. Brilliant.
One more big benefit of using Mail as my primary client is that I can now also rely on Apple’s Address Book as my primary contacts database, too. This puts an end to the sheer insanity that I was living under for the past few years, in which I would maintain my main contacts database in Entourage and use Paul Berkowitz’s Sync Entourage-Address Book AppleScript to keep it in sync with Mac OS X’s contacts database. I’d then use Apple’s .Mac service to keep contacts synchronized across multiple computers. Insane.
Write Once, Read Anywhere
It’s probably easy to tell that I’m unusually preoccupied with the idea of synchronization — that it should just work. One of the goals of my computing life is that I should be able to record a person’s name once and have it accessible from all appropriate applications, have it appear on all my computers, and have it replicated on all my digital devices. That’s it. In an age of instant messaging, social networks, and on-demand video, it should seem possible, right? Let me just tell you, it may be possible, but right now anyway, it ain’t easy.