My Kingdom for an Email Client

Mail IconWith all of the attention given to Mac web browsers in the past year, web surfers have been blessed with a veritable bounty of good-looking, standards-compliant, and fast-loading browsers to choose from. Apple’s Safari. the Mozilla group’s Camino and Firebird, and the upcoming Omnigroup’s OmniWeb are all excellent products. Choice is groovy.

So I would like to send my plea out into the electronic ether: will someone please make an equally excellent email client for Mac OS X? For an application that I spend almost as much time in (if not more), the selection of complete (for me) email clients out there is woefully underwhelming.

I was using CTMDev’s Powermail for a while, but the HTML and IMAP support sucks, and CTMDev’s customer support makes me sometimes think that they’ve abandoned the product. Apple’s Mail looks nice, and has pretty good IMAP support, but it’s slow, has very poor attachment encoding support (nonexistent, almost), and half-baked applescript support.

gyazmailIcon.gifGoichi Hirakawa’s Gyazmail looks promising, but has zero HTML, IMAP, and applescript support; a to-do list on Hirakawa’s site indicates that it may be a contender by the end of the year. Microsoft’s Entourage is crash-obsessed, has a proprietary database that corrupts easily, and has the extra crud of a calendar and address book (both of which do not coexist well with Apple’s offerings).

There are a bunch of options out there at the moment, and I’ve tried almost all of them. All of them either lack essential functionality, look like dog pants, or just plain suck.

So. This would be my wish list for the perfect email client (for me):

  • complete POP support (including APOP support for secure logins)
  • complete IMAP support (which includes the ability to filter new mail for spam or into a different folder on the server, and the ability to “ignore” certain folders on the server)
  • multiple accounts
  • the ability to bounce emails back to the sender, and “silently” redirect emails to another recipient (and make it look like it was sent by the original sender)
  • built-in bayesian spam filtering, with the option to use a 3rd-party solution if so desired (like Michael Tsai’s excellent SpamSieve)
  • assignable signatures, so I can have different signatures automatically applied to emails created using a specific account
  • labels (ala the OS 9 finder) so I can colour-coordinate my email as my needs require
  • proper support for the various attachment encoding types, so emails I send to PC users are still usable
  • support for Mac OS X’s Address Book (address autocomplete, filtering by groups, etc)
  • full Applescript support
  • PGP / GPG support for the times when I’m feeling paranoid
  • Mailing list support where I can: set whether or not to send email to the list address or not; visual threading of emails; bursting digest emails into its single messages; and other tools to make working with mailing lists easier
  • mailIndicator.gifvisual indicator of the number of unread emails in a folder
  • 100% support for HTML and rich text email, plus the ability to turn off network access for emails, so I don’t download images, javascripts, or anything else to tip off spammers
  • fast and stable, no matter how many emails are in the database (Apple’s Mail sucks in this department)
  • simple and complex searches, with the ability to search for multiple fields (body text, sender, date, etc.)
  • ability to save received attachments to a separate folder upon receipt, so I can keep my attachments separate from my email archive
  • no easily corrupted, proprietary email databases (I’m looking at you, Entourage)
  • import and export mail to a multitude of email clients, and also to mbox and tab-delinated format
  • built-in archiving (why does no email client have this feature yet?)
  • support for the dock (comprehensive dock menu, number of unread emails indicator, etc.)
  • visual status indicator when accessing the server (# of messages to download, progress indicator, when the client is deleting emails off of the server, etc.)
  • support for # of days to keep email on the server, or ability to delete email on download
  • contextual menu and drag-and-drop goodliness throughout
  • locations (office, home, etc. - so I can seamlessly switch between my personal and office email addresses without a lot of hassle)
  • nice, aqua-friendly interface - I shouldn’t feel like I’m using a crappy Windows port, a badly carbonized classic application, or some brushed metal abomination
  • frequent updates (as necessary), and good customer support
  • just email - no organizer, no address book (or at least the option to use Apple’s or the built-in one), no calendar, no newsgroups - just do email, and do it well.

I think that’s enough for now. I don’t believe I’m asking for much - almost all of these features are present in at least one of the many email clients out there for OS X, but none of them have all of these available.

Anything you would like to see in your perfect email client?

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