Usage habits…

In the past weeks I have experimented with a few ways to do email. What I realize from speaking with others both in person and via email discussions lists, is how differently everyone sees things. Not that surprising actually, but the ways in which people handle the deluge of messages is pretty interesting.

In my case I have blogged about ZOE and POPfile and integration with Mail.app. What I have not mentioned is that I no longer use Mail or ZOE. Mail had become slow for me given the amount of email I get in a day and the speed with which I try to manage it all. Since I am basically a remote worker in my company I need to be very consistent on mail to manage what is going on.

In case you care, I work in NYC in the office of the umbrella company (we used to have a NY office ourselves) but the main office for my company is outside Philadelphia.

While Mail was a wonderful tool it was not cutting it for me anymore. I did a pretty comprehensive review of tools I thought would work for me. I considered GyazMail, Eudora, and even going back to Entourage. I knew I needed to be able to work with POPfile which has become an unbelievable helper in the fight against spam as well as a wonderful pre-filter for my email. POPfile offers two ways of tagging messages either by modifying the subject or by adding an x-text classifier header to messages.

For some reason Entourage is not able to swing that, so I immediately nuked it as an option.

Gyaz was interesting and the closest to Mail, but wanted to use a separate folder of folders for each account. This is not the way I view my mail (unified inbox….) and just could not get used to working like that.

Eudora was the first GUI email I app I ever used. It was handed to me on a 3.5″ diskette in college and I remember it well. I also remember bailing on it when I discovered Claris Emailer after college… While it is nice now and I know many people like it, it was not for me.

Then I discovered PowerMail. This is definitely the dark horse of email applications on Mac. As soon as I started using it, I knew I was hooked… It offers very robust filters/rules, AppleScript support, excellent attachment handling (local folder), OS X address book sync, V-Twin search (ie Sherlock) and of course POPfile compatibility. There are many more features under the hood as well. It is not free, but the $50 is well worth the admission. The demo copy which runs for 30 days can handle 200 messages in the database. As soon as I reached that limit I purchased. I should also note that it did a flawless import from Mail – all 1.7GB of it.

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, people use the tools very differently. One thing I discovered about PowerMail, which you might appreciate as well I had never seen in other apps. There is a window called “Recent Mail Window” which can open as new messages come in and can come to the front if you choose. What this does is give you a single pane view of messages regardless of where you have filtered them on receipt. I leave it floating on top of the main window so I can easily drag and file messages as the come in. I can also see messages I have filtered automatically by client (domain based), lists, newsletters etc all in one place. It is essentially a live view of mail so as you move things you can see right away that they are where you would expect. You can leave a floating window of folders and work with two windows also if you like eliminating the main view, though I found this to be a bit beyond where I am comfortable. Since classified as spam comes in and drops to the trash, I just do a quick check before killing it and I am on my way.

While this is not exactly a comprehensive review of PowerMail or any of the tools, I thought it would be interesting to share regardless. As the title of the app suggests it is a powerful way to do mail. The best in my opinion, though I am sure as new apps come out or things update I will try them to make sure.

3 Replies to “Usage habits…”

  1. Why did you drop Zoe? Too slow, not useful enough, requires too much care and feeding?

    I’m using the same Mail, Zoe, POPFile setup, and though I like Mail fine, I’m considering dropping Zoe. It forces me to keep POPFile in -toptoo 1 mode, which seems to add weirdness to POPFile, and I have to mess with it to make sure it (slowly) gets all the messages more often than I ever need it for anything. I like the concept, but it’s slow and finicky and doesn’t seem to be developed very quickly, either.

    By the way, is it safe to give out my email to MT? I don’t want to get any more spam than I already do.

    Thanks,
    Randy

  2. While I like the idea of Zoe, I was not using it directly that much. It was causing some issues, like getting in the way with POP checks fairly frequently since it was running in parrallel with Mail and not in line which may have been my fault, but at this point I don’t really miss it.

    I also switched out of Mail and traded up to PowerMail, which does not integrate with the Mail bundle but does offer a robust search function for finding local messages.

    POPFile is still an integral part of my system. I use it to pre-sort mail for PowerMail, killing flagged as Spam to my trash and the rest of my buckets initiate other filters.

  3. I’ll toss my vote in as well (in descending order of appreciation):

    3) Zoe = great in theory but I didn’t use it as much as I had initially expected to. Also, snail slow on my 500mhz iBook.

    2) Mail.app = built-in. I’ll try PowerMail now, but unless it or a yet undiscovered alternative (trust me, I’ve been searching) clearly outperforms it…it’s built-in and adequate.

    1) PopFile = great in execution…invisible and effective- I can forget it’s there and it just plain works.

    So, I’m still looking for an efficient OSX client that can do IMAP and give me remote access to my accounts the way ZOE does.

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