postbox

You would think a high profile app written by Apple specifically for OS X and supplied with every Mac sold would be as close to flawless as you can get. Sadly, this has not been the experience many of us have had with Apple Mail for quite some time – especially Gmail users.

While Apple Mail seems to have continued to work well for those with simple needs – a single email account, no filtering into folders – power users have experienced a whole succession of problems that Apple seems unable to fix.

Unread mail counts that take an age to update, deleted emails that reappear next time you click into an account, moves to folders that undo themselves, undo actions that don’t work and – most annoyingly of all – a mail list pane that remains blank when you switch account, sometimes for seconds, sometimes even for minutes at a time.

I finally lost patience with it and decided to look around at alternatives. I’d used Thunderbird before, so that was high on my list, and some googling pointed me to Postbox, an email client which uses Thunderbird as its engine but layers a prettier user-interface on top … 

With most software reviews, I like to show plenty of screengrabs of my own real-life use. With email, that gets tricky: even subject lines can reveal confidential information, so I’ll talk about my own usage but use Postbox’s canned screengrabs to illustrate.

v3-screen-home

Simplified single-account layout

The good news

While switching email client might seem like a slightly daunting prospect, there are two pieces of good news. First, most email apps out there use broadly the same user-interface, so you’ll feel at home with the basics pretty much immediately. Second, Postbox can import your accounts from Apple Mail, getting you up-and-running very quickly.

The other good news is that so long as you’re using IMAP (see Setup, below), you will be free to switch back-and-forth between Apple Mail and Postbox until you decide whether or not you want to make a permanent switch. Postbox gives you a free 30-day trial, and it only costs $10 to buy, which gives you a single-user licence valid for as many Macs as you own.

The bad news

If you’re a power-user – and thus motivated to consider a switch – you will have to do things like recreate your mail filters. And while there’s nothing difficult about that, simply finding things in different menus means the switch between the two environments takes a bit more getting used to.

Oh, and one last bit of bad news: you’ll have to train a new spam filter. All mail clients learn from the messages you mark as junk, so the longer you’ve been using an app, the better it gets at recognising spam. Expect to have a few weeks of seeing a lot more spam than usual until Postbox has had a chance to learn. You can, however, tell Postbox to trust Spam Assassin headers.

Setup

I’ve used IMAP for many years, so I don’t have to worry about my actual mail: that’s always on the server, and any deleting or moving of mail I do on any of my devices gets mirrored on the server. If you’re not already using IMAP, I highly recommend it to anyone using multiple devices for email, and usually this is no more complicated than changing a POP3 server address to an IMAP one in the account settings.

So, if you’re not already using IMAP, make this change first, in Apple Mail. Once you’ve done this, download Postbox, open it and the Account Migration Assistant will pop up. Tell it to import from Apple Mail, and within a few minutes you’ll be looking at something very close in appearance to your existing Mail setup.

If you have a lot of mail, the app will of course take a little time to fully download it all.

Portability

Just as Apple Mail stores all your mail and settings in ~/Library/Mail, and you can duplicate your setup on a second machine just by copying this folder (while Mail is closed), you can do the same with Postbox. The folder to move in this case is ~/Library/Application Support/Postbox. Once I had everything set up on my MacBook Pro, I just copied that folder via a USB key to replicate the setup on my MacBook Air.

First impressions

Side-by-side, the two apps look remarkably similar. If you have multiple accounts or folders, both use the same three-column format: accounts and folders on the left, subject lines and previews in the middle, currently-selected email on the right. Both provide the same ‘conversational view’, hiding quoted text by default to avoid duplication.

pb3-main-convo

Within emails, Postbox can pull in photos from your social networks, so the conversational view is prettier than with Apple Mail. It can currently auto-import profile photos from Facebook, LinkedIn and Gravatar.

v3-screen-convo

There’s also a ‘summarize’ mode which can give non-Mac owners an equally friendly view of email exchanges when sent from Postbox.

pb3-summarize

By default, the font size used by Postbox is smaller, but going into Preferences > General and then selecting Font size: Large changes it to be about the same. I compromised on Medium.

If, like me, you prefer to leave junk mail in your Inbox so you can quickly glance over it, you’ll notice one apparent drawback to Postbox right away: unlike Apple Mail’s clear shading of junk mail, Postbox simply marks it with a faint recycle icon. However, Preferences is again our friend there: Preferences > Privacy > Junk has a checkbox marking all junk mail as read, so these are then clearly distinguished when new mail arrives.

junk

I wasn’t entirely happy with the default toolbar, but View > Customise toolbar allowed me to set that up just the way I wanted it. Unlike Apple Mail, there are no reply/reply-all icons in each mail item, so I moved these icons to directly above the mail column so they were in almost the same place. (You can also two-finger tap anywhere in the mail item to bring up a context-sensitive menu with reply as the first option.)

Those things done, there was really very little visible difference between the two apps. With the two side-by-side, I think anyone could use either one interchangeably.

Accounts & folders

The two apps handle the accounts column in very slightly different ways. With Apple Mail, your Inbox appears at the top of the column, with other folders below. Postbox is more logical, with just the account name at the top of the column and the Inbox with the other folders below. In practice, however, clicking on the account name defaults to displaying the Inbox, so there is only one difference …

If you clicked on a folder other than the Inbox, next time you click on that account, you will still be in that folder. That’s logical, but did cause me some momentary confusion.

The only other slight difference I found was that Apple Mail allows you to manually place an email in a folder by dragging the email itself, while Postbox needs you to drag the subject line/preview from the middle column.

Mail filtering & flagging

v3-screen-topics

In Postbox, filters are found under Tools > Message Filters which is, to my mind, a more obvious place than Apple Mail’s Preferences > Rules. The interface to create and edit rules, however, is near-enough identical.

Mail flagging is also done in a slightly different way. With Mail, you right-click the message then click on the flag you want; with Postbox, you right-click the message then select Assign Topic and select the one you want. By default, flagged messages are not color-coded, so I went to Assign Topic > New Topic (a very unobvious way to edit the settings) and checked Apply the topic color to the entire row in the message pane.

Gmail & Dropbox support

v3-screen-dropbox

Gmail support is good, with labels recognised and the option to switch on Gmail keyboard shortcuts for a seamless transition experience between webmail and email client.

One feature I love about Postbox is you can set it to send Dropbox links instead of large files. Just drag files from your Public folder in Dropbox to an email, and Postbox automatically converts them to links. This is a delightfully convenient way to send large files.

Additional features

There are a bunch more things Postbox can do that I haven’t personally found an immediate use for, such as to-do list management, file searches and saving emails as Evernote notes.

Conclusions

If Apple Mail worked perfectly, I would see no reason to switch, seeing the two as pretty much identical in both appearance and feature-set. If you’re one of the lucky ones who haven’t experienced any performance issues, then by all means stick with Mail.

But given Apple Mail’s problems, Postbox has been a delight: no more irritating delays when switching between accounts, no more deleted mails that suddenly reappear in my Inbox and unread mailcounts that are updated instantly, not at some point later in the day.

Given the ease of the transition, and the equal ease with which you can switch back (I’ve even had both apps running simultaneously while writing this review), it’s something I’d recommend to anyone being driven spare by Apple Mail’s current failings.

As & when Apple finally sorts the issues with Mail, switching back will involve nothing more complicated than quitting one app and opening the other. Until then, Postbox will keep you sane – for free up to 30 days, or indefinitely for ten bucks.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

67 Responses to “Review: Postbox, a painless alternative to the increasingly flakey Apple Mail”

  1. nguyenhm16 says:

    I am a paid Postbox user on my work PC, it is the best email client I could find on Windows but it’s still not Apple Mail. I’ll just wait for them to fix Apple Mail instead of switching on my home Mac, for two main reasons:

    I know this has nothing to do with Postbox on MacOS X, but I find it infuriating that after all this time, I still can’t fully integrate my iCloud address book on Thunderbird and now Postbox on Windows without a fair bit of kludging and hackery. I’m not giving them another dime until that works. eM Client can, but it must be written in Visual Basic or something because it’s slow as molasses.

    I have multiple email accounts, but the archive folders (the destination when you hit the Archive button) for all those accounts are set to point to folders on my iCloud email. Postbox behaves weirdly in displaying this.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      The first problem seems to have been solved – Postbox seamlessly picks up email addresses from both my Contacts and received mail. I don’t have any experience of your second issue.

  2. You guys need to review @Airmail. That’s the power house of an email client right now. Even has exchange support which is amazing! I’ve used Postbox for awhile and while it’s great, it feels too aged. Airmail combines the feel of Sparrow and Postbox while making it much more user friendly and packing it with great features.

  3. Firstly I have been using Mail for years … maybe a decade or more? I have 6 email accounts. Two of them are Gmail accounts, IMAP both.

    On the whole i have never had a problem of any note. A few glitches that took a few minutes to fix. A bit of adjustment to get the IMAP to work perfectly.

    I have never encountered ANY of the issues this author is claiming plague Mail. The IMAP has worked perfectly since I set it up, once I tweaked it a bit because of Gmail issues, not Apple issues. I have never had a deleted email reappear and have never ever seen a blank pane. And one of my macs is a 2007 with Snow LeopardiMac, the other a 2013 model.

    Meanwhile I did a few Google searches and LOADS of people have all kinds of problems with Postbox. Don’t get me wrong, it looks fine and it has no more problems that any piece of software I have ever encountered – but it is FAR from perfect! This author has only been using it for a few days/weeks and any realistic assessment on the basis of his critique of Mail is utterly useless.

    Is Mail perfect ? of course not. Is Postbox miles better ? I see absolutely no evidence of that.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      There would be very few reviews if we had to use an app for months or years before writing about it :-)

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      A thought occurs – are you using Mavericks?

    • I encounter those issues all the time

    • standardpull says:

      Same here. I was surprised to hear about these problems with Mail because I have never experienced them or heard of them. Mail is at the center of my online communications, flawlessly handling the hundreds or more emails I send and receive per day across 4 accounts via 4 different service providers.

    • I have two accounts under Mail (using Mavericks) and have problems. Sometimes Mail will stop sending or receiving email altogether, and restarting it won’t fix the problem (and Mail has had the same problems on my father’s computer as well). I actually have to log out and back in to get it working again. I’ve also had some issues with Rules just not working and I was never able to figure out why. In any case, Mail doesn’t seem stable to me and I shouldn’t have to quit or logout just to get it to start working again.

  4. 311sie says:

    Thanks for the detailed review. I’m currently using Airmail and have been happy so far, but will be testing Postbox soon.

  5. Reblogged this on Subcritical and commented:
    I bought Postbox when it came out; it’s based on a fork of Mozilla’s mail reading engine, but you wouldn’t know it by using it. It’s pretty fast, nicely designed, and feels better than Thunderbird.

  6. mazorama.de says:

    Try Airmail (Mac App Store)! Cheaper and better IMHO

  7. degraevesofie says:

    Mavericks Mail has been a huge pain. However, I process some of my incoming e-mail using scripts (AppleScript) and last I looked (a year and a half ago, maybe) Postbox was not providing me with practical hooks for replacing those scripts. Does anyone know if significant scriptability changes have been made in the past year or so?

  8. I have been using Apple mail since quite sometime. Use it on Mavericks with multiple pop accounts. Haven’t faced the problems you have mentioned but mail’s search functionality is pretty bad. Even compose options are very limited too, you can’t remove text’s formatting, it has problems with changing background color of text (specially when you paste the text from web page or mail and want to take out bg color)

    Does postbox solve these basic issues? I am more keen on search related issues.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I don’t use search much personally, but Postbox indexes your mail and in brief tests seems to work well.

      I don’t think I know anyone crass enough to send me email with coloured backgrounds …

    • Simple fix for the background color thing regardless of which app you are pasting into. Use Paste and Match Style (option-shift-command-v). That will cause the text you are pasting to match the style (font, color, etc) of the text you are pasting it next to.

      As for the search issue, that is actually tied to spotlight. Which pretty much all apps that perform an internal search reference. If you are having search issues I would re-index your machine (go to System Preference->Spotlight->Privacy, add Macintosh HD to the list, restart, and then remove it).

  9. francoborgo says:

    I am on Maverick, I have 1 iCloud Account, 2 gmail account, 1 hotmail account, 3 yahoo and 1 work account. My gmail are automatically forwarded to my iCloud account. All my mail rules are directly in iCloud to sort mail into specific folder. No rules on my mac, all on iCloud, It work great, and all my device (two macs, 1 phone, 1 ipad) are in sync, contrary to when I use to have my Rules in my Mac. Rules on iCloud are less complex than what you could do on the Mac Mail client, but having device in sync is essential to me. Have you tried to forward your gmail to iCloud instead of receiving them directly. I can still do a reply on a gmail email and it will be send through gmail.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I don’t have an iCloud email account – I figure with six email accounts, I have enough already. :-) But thanks for the thought, sounds like a setup that works well for you.

  10. Scott Adams says:

    I’ve been a satisfied Apple Mail user for over five years. There have been odd glitches, but they’re usually resolved by an update at some point. Mail in Mavericks is probably as buggy as I’ve seen it; having experienced similar issues as well as some others on my six email accounts (two gmail, all IMAP).

    I was going to try Postbox but have an exchange email account with our church so I’ll be looking forward to the Airmail review.

  11. André Gomes says:

    After reading your review, I was convinced to give it a try. So let’s start with a little background.

    In the past, I never experienced most of those issues you mentioned with Apple Mail, although I’ve had trouble with filters (slow or not working), moving messages and most of all PERFORMANCE! The thing is damn slow when you have a couple thousand messages and a bunch of accounts. I lost count of the times I had to force quit and re-open because it was eating up all my CPU.

    That being said, I was first a little bit dazzled by the speed of Postbox. But it still fails to convince me with its current maturity, at least for these first hours. I had a couple of annoying issues, and for some of them I cannot find a solution. The first issue is that it does not import most of the things for Apple Mail (eg. signatures), and that includes my iCloud account (although I may be able to configure it somehow if I’m willing to spend the time). Then, I noticed that they only did half the translation to my native language. So I get half of the menus in my native language and the rest in English. After searching a bit I found a menu option to select English as the app language, but wouldn’t happen if they didn’t decide to include half a translation. Finally, I was also disappointed with the fact that I cannot hide certain IMAP folders. In one of the accounts, I have a lot of Unix folders in the same directory (home directory, due to the configuration of the mail server) and it would be good if I could hide them from the list to avoid going through the painstaking trouble of scrolling all the way till the folder I want.

    But I appreciated a lot your review, and thanks for introducing me for this alternative. I look forward for the one about Airmail.

  12. I can attest that all that has been described above as being “buggy” with OSX Mail in 10.9 has unfortunately happened with my Exchange Account and Gmail Accounts in Mail. Apparently, this is not a small problem. As this 15 page thread on Apple discussions demonstrates (link below), word of the”buggy” function of Mail in 10.9 has even reached Tim Cook’s desk. On a positive note, someone states that they actually reported the bugs, and that case was actually closed by Apple…suggesting that the next update will finally address these awful issues..

    Here is a link to the Apple discussions thread..

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5470507?start=210&tstart=0

  13. fysherofmen says:

    A couple years ago I started having trouble with Mail (it wouldn’t remember the passwords) and so I switched to Postbox. Although there are some nice things about Postbox it never felt very smooth. It had a lot of extra features but I never really seemed to use them – and the ones I wanted (such as integration with the OS and iPhoto, etc.) just weren’t there. But one day I opened Postbox and found that my one main account was corrupted up completely. I couldn’t sort the emails by date or anything else. They were all in a confused order. But my other accounts behaved normally! Nothing I tried fixed the problem so I switched back to a much better behaving Mail. When upgraded then, Maverick’s Mail was causing me some performance problems, but I just added some memory and it is MUCH better.

  14. I am using Airmail and I am really happy with it. :) But Postbox seems to be a nice app as well.

    • KeeWaWa says:

      Airmail, yes, is cheap. But incredibly buggy. Not sure about their developing process, from the beta to current v1.3.1, it’s like while they are fixing some bugs, they also bring back other old glitches or introduce new. I have an impression that they are so desperate to introduce new functions to the software for some reasons, but don’t quite care about addressing and thoroughly solving the existing problems. If you check their support/discussion page often you will see how many problems they have in each release. Every time when they released a new version, I used to always give my hope, but was disappointed again and again. Now I’ve totally lost my patience to it.

      I’ve been trying Postbox for 1 week, so far so good. But it seems to me Postbox uses more memory (250~320M) on average than others (100~150M) under same settings. I noticed the same issue on Thunderbird, not sure if this is because they share the same engine.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        What bugs have you found in the latest Airmail?

      • I downloaded Airmail, as it seems that Postbox does not fully support exchange accounts. I setup my 4 email accounts..Exchange, iCloud, Gmail, POP Verizon with no problem,..then I hit a brick wall…Apparently, in the current OSX version, there is no way to import “On My Mac” folders/files (mail.app or elm files) from OSX mail to Airmail. Supposedly, this can be done with a beta version build, but I really don’t want to have buggy beta version be my main Email program. Until I can import these folder (like Postbox), I will pass. Too bad Postbox has limited Exchange server support.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        The conclusion so far appears to be that there’s no such thing as a perfect email client …

  15. Ben Lovejoy says:

    A question for the Airmail fans … unless I’m missing something, there seems to be no way to automatically filter email into folders as per Apple Mail’s rules and Postbox’s message filters? I want to filter email by FROM or TO address into particular folders, and googling suggests there is no way to do this as the app assumes you’re using gmail and will do it there.

    • Cameron Hail says:

      I believe you’re correct. I’ve been using Airmail for the last few months and it filters email based on filters I’ve created in my gmail settings. Which works for me since I’m using two primary gmail accounts. Looking forward to your review of Airmail, very tempted to try out Postbox based on your review!

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        That is probably going to rule it out for me, given that two of my accounts are not gmail ones (though I am considering switching to gmail for my main personal account to take advantage of the Google Now style functionality added of late).

  16. I appreciate all the “love” for airmail, but it does sound a bit like a “sale”. What about Mail Pilot for mac? Now in public beta and really outshines all of the other choices. I used apple mail for 5 years, moved onto mailplane and now am enamored with mail pilot.

  17. I have several Macs at home and i definitely rely on my Mail , as well personal and business wise. Mail has been a real plague to me lately , because it sometimes just doesn’t seem to receive emails on imap accounts, seems to be an issue as i’m not the only one with the problem.
    so i decided to take a look at postbox and airmail at the same time :
    I have to admit , i really Love Postbox, with some exceptions which are quite critical to me.
    1. It does not use the emails from people that sent me messages, so i have to go back to mail sometimes and time in the first 3 letters to get the email address i’ve been looking for.
    2. when you have conversation with someone , you need to update the conversation manually when the emails come in , that ‘s kind of annoying.
    3. i sometimes can not seem to find the attachments i’m looking for , same procedure, i need to go back mail to get them.
    4. No Signature on Quick Reply.
    5. there was something else but i don’t remember , but i’ll get back on this when i remember ;-)

    it definitely also has some good qualities , that are so much better than those in the Mail App.

    now, since the first 3 really annoy me , i took a look at Airmail again.

    it works quite well, it is fast , it looks nice , but ….
    for me there are too many icons in it. I want an email app to be plain and simple and i don’t like to see those faces or icons everywhere. that just makes the app less useful. Problem is you cannot remove them.
    another issue was , but that is solved in the newest beta, i wasn’t able to import my old mails i had in the Mail App , that works flawless in Postbox. But once again , in the Beta that works. 1 more thing i don’t like is the that you cannot add you proper fonts to the Airmail App , which you need for example if you have a corporate identity of your business in order to make Signatures. However the Signature part is quite nice as it has an HTML Editor integrated.

    All in all , if those few issues were solved on Postbox, i would be totally happy with it t.b.h. Let’s wish for some updates soon….

  18. James Katt says:

    The biggest problem with Postbox is how long will it remain viable. How long before Postbox’s developers quit updating it?

    For an app that you will need use the rest of your life, Postbox will probably be abandonware and dead in a few years.

    Apple’s Mail will be here forever. We’ve had it for 12 straight years already.
    And it will be updated forever. The updates are also less flakey as Apple quashes bugs.
    And there are 3rd party plug-ins which extend its functionality
    And there are 3rd party apps to archive and backup your years of email – one does so to PDF.
    These are huge incentives to keep staying with Mail.

    • nguyenhm16 says:

      It’s true. I use it on Windows and it’s been a while since there’s been an update. It’s Mozilla predecessor has not had a history of vigorous development.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I’m not sure I expect to be using much software for more than a few years … With IMAP, it’s really trivial to change email apps in any case.

      I only wish the updates had made Apple Mail less flakey – unfortunately, my experience has been the opposite, especially since Mavericks.

  19. What about support of S/MIME / OpenPGP? Apple Mail ist doing a good job on encryption/signing messages.

  20. I have switched to PostBox way back when it cost $49 for lifetime upgrades because I had enough of Mail.app just as you described. It has been serving me perfectly ever since, but it the mean time it seems that the developers lost the drive, and it is now in permanent “maintenance” mode, if that.
    I believe it is very important to always have an alternative, and recently I stumbled upon MailMate which made me switch after a few weeks of testing. For everyone who is serious about his email, this is it.
    Important: If you are one of those who thinks that Airmail is nice, MailMate is *not* for you. :)
    MailMate is at the moment a product of a single person, which is good and bad at the same time. The support is immediate and knowledgaeable, but there is noone to take over if something unexpected happens.
    Author has recently started a very successfull crowdunding campaign that will guarantee active development for the forseeable future though.
    MailMate is not cheap by todays standards, but I think that $49 for a excellent tool that I am using daily is not a big price to pay. There is a 30 day evaluation period.
    Some of the MailMate strengths are instantaneous and advanced search, extremely flexible smart folders, very configurable, wonderful graphical representation of the thread (Reminds me of the way ancient MacSOUP did it), full keyboard support, notifications (this alone is worth checking out!) and a ton of hidden gems.
    It takes a bit of time to get used to, but is well worth a try. You have been warned. :)
    Downsides? Does not support POP accounts, and does not support sending of HTML formatted emails, and according to author cannot handle more than 800.000 messages. None of this is an issue for me, but it might be for some.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Thanks, Tomislav – I think with Airmail, which I’m using at present, I probably won’t look at any others in the immediate future, but sounds worth checking out at a later date.

  21. Scott Adams says:

    Apple released OS X Update 10.9.1 today. Three of the top five fixes are Mail-centric.

    - Improved support for Gmail in OS X Mail, and fixes for users with custom Gmail settings.
    - Improves the reliability of Smart Mailboxes and search in Mail.
    - Fixes an issue that prevented contact groups form working properly in Mail.

    Apple’s notorious for tweaking issues it considers less global and subsequently not worth noting with its updates so I’ll be curious to see if some of the other issues noted here are resolved as well.

  22. Rick says:

    Great review, thanks for taking the time to write it up.

    this is the second time I’ve demoed Postbox. I’d love to find an alternative to Mail, but so far, no joy.

    Right now I use Mail.app along with the excellent add ons MailTags and Mail-Act On. The first gives significant tagging and note capability, the second allows me to run rules on demand applied to a specific message. So, for example, I can highlight an email I got from Southwest Airlines with my newly purchased travel itinerary and run a rule that applies the keyword “Travel” to it and then moves it to my archive folder. Takes about half a second to do that. Then I use Smart Folders to sort it all out on the backend, and the folders can search on those keywords.

    Postbox, near as I can tell (more on that later) has a few issues for me that make it unworkable. First, you cannot apply a specific rule to a specific email message. You can apply ALL you rules to a specific message, but who the heck would want to do THAT? Unless you have a very elementary rule structure, that just seems dumb. Second, they do not support global rules. You have to create them for each account. So if you actively manage 4 different accounts and you want the same 8 rules to apply to each, you now need 32 rules instead of just 8 you can apply globally. That, too, seems really dumb.

    Now, this is how Postbox used to work about 18 months ago, the last time I did a robust demo of it before today, and back when their support folks would eventually respond to you a few weeks after you sent a support request email. Now, they give you absolutely no way to contact them unless you are a paid user who purchased at the old more expensive price. If you purchased at the current price, they have a line on their site that essentially says you are not worthy of their time and they will not give you a means to contact them. Go to their doc and figure it out on your own. Frankly, I find this contemptible.

    So, after demoing today it would appear this same behavior from 18 months ago is still in place, but I cannot email Postbox to confirm because they have chosen to insulate themselves from their users. I really wish they would at least, then, institute a user forum where users could help each other. But nope, can’t be bothered with that, either. They really, really seem to not give a crap about their user base.

    I think this app has a LOT going for it, but between some things that are both weird and unproductive, and their lack of customer support (which I absolutely perceive to convey a lack of integrity), I just can’t justify using this app or recommending it to anyone. I keep waiting for someone to release a power user’s email client. Something like OmniFocus is for task management, give me something like that for email management. I’d pay a lot of money for a great, robust, well-supported app.

    So the search continues.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I think you and I use rules in different ways, as I can’t think of a time when I’d need to run only one rule on a message rather than allowing all of them to run. Mine are mostly straightforward filters which pick up on from or to address and filter them into the appropriate folder.

      I do have one rule which copies an email from one account to another, and then a filter rule in that account may also act on it.

      I agree absolutely that there is a market for a really great app, and that there are those of us who would pay a decent amount for it. I guess the problem for a developer is it’ll always be a niche market, as most will just use Mail.

      • Rick says:

        Yep. I have some of the kinds of rules you describe. “take that financial newsletter and move it to folder x”. The types of rules I’m talking about, you really can’t put them together until you have something like Mail Act-On combined with MailTags. Once you do, wow, the power and flexibility that opens up is amazing. If you use Mail, I’d demo Mail with these two add-ons, makes it a MUCH more powerful application.

        Here’s another quick way I use it. I buy a lot of stuff online (I hate physically going shopping). When I get an email receipt or an email with shipment tracking info for an order, I hit a quick keystroke combination that assigns the tag “online purchase” to the email and then moves it to the archive folder. Then I have two smart mailboxes, one to show me all online purchases, and one to show me those from the last month. It takes literally about 1 second to get that email out of my inbox and into the right place where I can easily find it later. To do something like that in Postbox would require I manually assign a topic then physically move it. Might take 5-10 seconds. Doesn’t sound like much but with the volume of emails I get (over 200 per day) I can’t afford to take a 1 second task and turn it into a 5-10 second one.

        Another thing that is really powerful about MailTags is I can create projects and assign emails to those, then search on those projects (in addition to keywords), and I can also add notes to an email and then later search on those. Makes finding stuff later really easy. So I can also create and apply a rule that takes a message, color codes it, flags it, assigns a project and a keyword and then moves it to a special folder. Powerful.

        But even if we put aside the ability to run a rule on demand against a single message, there are two things that are just non-starters for me with respect to Postbox. First, no global rules, are they kidding me? I have to create whatever rules I have at the account level? For someone with one or maybe two email accounts, no biggie. For someone with multiple accounts (maybe they have a job and a side business, for example), managing all those rules at the individual account level is just a mess. And really dumb design.

        But even more importantly, what are you going to do if you have a question about Postbox functionality? They give you absolutely no way to contact them. Now neither does Mail, but at least Apple gives us a very robust and active user forum, which is a great resource. Postbox does not, so if you have questions or run into issues that their user doc doesn’t address, you’re stuck. I find that problematic in and of itself, but it also seems to indicate a combination of arrogance (“our doc is just THAT good”, and no user doc answers every question no matter how well written) and contempt for the user base (“we have neither the time nor desire to communicate with you”) that strongly suggests to me that for something as mission-critical as my email app, I need to look elsewhere.

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        Adding notes does sound useful.

        For eshopping (I too do all the shopping I can online), I simply have an eshopping folder and move order confirmations to that, then delete them once the item arrives. In that way I can see at a glance what is outstanding.

  23. not sure if someone has encountered this on OSX mail client, If you have many email accounts and if you hit reply for odd reason Mail will pick up random reply back email rather then email it should be using by default when you hit reply, any one had same problem?

  24. I just switched to Postbox. I like Apple Mail well enough. The problem I recently ran into after switching to a new webhost and setting up IMAP accounts, is the Apple Mail leaves all connections to the server open. This creates a 500 error on my server and my website basically shuts down. So I cannot leave Mail open all the time. I have to open, check my email, then close.
    Postbox (and every other email client I’ve tried) does not do this. Why Apple Mail works this way, I don’t know.

  25. Mail issues (& reports of suckiness with the new Keynote) have stopped me from upgrading to Mavericks. My main issue with Mail is lack of transparency in settings. I have an IMAP account that is set-up incorrectly, and the account settings only have, for example, one port — not sure if it’s for incoming or outgoing, but in any case I need to be able to set both.

  26. Eric Oyen says:

    is this application voiceover screen reader usable? I am totally blind and need to know as apple mail is being problematic with gmail.

  27. Jon Ward says:

    Just wondered whether people now felt the need to seek alternatives to OS X Mail since the recent improvements delivered with 10.9.2.

    I’ve downloaded Postbox and I’m not convinced it offered any significant improvement over Mail now.

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I gave Mail another try a week or so ago. It did seem significantly better than it was, but still seemed a bit sluggish, and I’m happy enough with Postbox so decided to stick with it (for now at least – I’m an email client tart :-)).

      • Rick says:

        I would really, REALLY like it if someone made a professional-grade email client for the Mac platform, something genuinely robust. So far, I haven’t found it. At this point I use Mail along with MailTags and Mail Act-On and extensive use of smart mailboxes and I’ve got my email processes at a black belt level. I practice Inbox Zero and these tools help me make that happen, along with tight integration to OmniFocus. As much as I’d love to move to an alternative to Mail, I can’t give up what MailTags and Act-On give me. With these bolt-ons, it’s a pretty robust functionality set not matched by any other app. Maybe someday.