Did Apple Just Give Up on Mail in Catalina?
Update: Everything’s fixed in Big Sur!
Two big issues for me were:
- Copying or moving messages from folders made the message body disappear (yeah, not good).
- You can no long specify which columns you want to show in column view or set the width for those columns.
With the first issue, that alone was very frustrating and a deal-breaker. I lost a bunch of messages, too, as the database updated. The second issue is more for productivity and being able to make an adjustment to work better / more efficiently. It’s really a feature they seemed to actively remove, which is very odd. This is why I’m saying Apple ditched their email program. It looks like they don’t care or if they actually want to get out of the email business.
I joined a discussion group on the Apple.com website and found it interesting that Apple doesn’t care to participate in the conversation going on there – on their own website. That’s just poor business practices and poor support if you ask me. You’re basically letting your customers trash you on your own website and you don’t even defend yourself or try to help.
After struggling for weeks with Mail and waiting for an update to Catalina, Apple issued an update – woo hoo! Oh, but it was mainly for their new AirPods Pro, it seems like. OK, I guess we see where their priorities lie.
At that point, I had enough, so I started searching for options. Someone in the discussion on Apple’s website mentioned Postbox, so I checked it out.
Postbox Mail Review
I had 2 initial questions for Postbox:
- Do you have column view (“classic” view)?
- Is it easy to import mailboxes from Mail?
Their website wasn’t too clear on these things and replying to an email they sent me with a promo code went nowhere so I contacted them again via their website and finally got a response. I found out they have a somewhat hidden support section on their website which mentions these things. I’m not sure why they hide these features. It’s things people have concerns about, so why hide them?
Postbox does have column view. Again, they just show the other kind of view on the main part of their website.
With importing, well… they do have an import function but they gave me a better suggestion, which I worked on. I moved all my local mail folders to Google (we use Google’s G Suite at work). This way, I have all my email all the time and I get an online backup. It took a long time to get all the messages there since I have a LOT of email stored but I got it over there. I was a bit scared to use the import function since I do have so much email.
Two more important features are rules and junk/spam filtering. Rules help you move emails you normally get into separate folders for viewing later. I have lots of rules (which I had to re-create AGAIN since the move to Catalina’s Mail made me re-do all my rules) and I have most of them going to a folder I set up called “Probably Junk or Later.” It’s for email that I can ignore for the moment. This keeps my inbox cleaner and I do use my inbox as a to-do list.
Having an Inbox that Works Like a To-Do List
OK, a side note on using your inbox as a to-do list… to everyone who doesn’t do this and just lets email fill up their inbox forever: how do you function that way? In my experience, the people that do this are the people who lose emails you send them. Things fall through the cracks. You have to follow up and remind them about things. They’re not organized. I don’t like working with people like this. It’s disrespectful in my opinion.
Maybe there’s a system where this works and you don’t lose things but that’s definitely not how my mind works. Your brain is trying to not use too much energy – it naturally wants to be efficient and tries to find ways to do this. For me, not having to keep my brain actively thinking about which emails are important and which ones are complete is a huge load off my mind. Organization is top priority for me. It means I’m more efficient as a worker and it takes things off my mind. I let systems bear the load, not me. I’m much happier this way, too.
Again, maybe in some twisted way, this works for some people – having tons of email build up in the inbox and never emptying it – but that’s definitely not me. If that’s you and you don’t lose track of things, that’s great. I just see it as an unnecessary load and stress.
I do this in all areas of my life. I build systems to handle things. People think I’m smart and maybe I am (I don’t really think so). I guess I’m smart in that I know I’m not so I build systems to handle things for me and maybe that makes me look smart. And I have found that getting time away from things lets my brain think and I come up with really cool solutions. Many times now in the car, I turn the radio and music off and just think about things. I come up with really exciting and fun solutions. So that and praying for wisdom has really helped me.
OK, where was I? Oh, yeah…
My Experience with Postbox So Far
It’s alright. I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect email application for MacOS and it’s the best I found for what I want.
Ideally, I want Apple Mail from Mojave but I was looking at what it would take to downgrade from Catalina to Mojave and that did not look like fun. I’m not about to do that, so I’m stuck with whatever is available.
With Postbox, I have these questions and I was going to submit them for help but it looks like you have to pay for this kind of support (not cool):
1. How do I move messages from a folder on GMail to the inbox? I tried move and copy but it doesn’t work.
2. Why don’t filters run all the time? I took the time to set them up and I’m finding messages which should be filtered in my inbox when receiving email. Why?
3. Does the order of filters actually work? What I mean is, do they run in that order? It doesn’t seem so.
4. I should be able to right click on an email address in a message and copy it. Why do I have to first compose a message in order to be able to copy it? That’s too many steps.
5. When editing a filter, when I choose to filter the subject line or from address, why can’t that info from the selected message pop in there?
6. Why do I have to restart Postbox to get moving messages to work?
7. When I reply, can the attachment still be there in the reply?
8. When composing messages in plain text, the messages seem to wrap at a certain width. Can I turn that off somehow and just have it go the entire width of the window?
I had some problems with filtering not working. Now, it seems it does work but slowly. I restarted Postbox (which seems to be what you need to do from time to time) and that helped but since my mailboxes are now local (on my hard drive) but remote (at GMail), it takes a little time for filtering to happen when I get mail. OK, I can accept that but I’ll have to get used to it.
With the rest of the items in the list, I’m working through them and trying to get used to things.
I almost (it’s still tempting) went back to Thunderbird for email. I loaded it up, looked at the interface and… no, that’s too big of a leap. I even tried newer themes and it still just didn’t feel right. Again, I really liked Apple Mail, which looked and felt a lot nicer. Thunderbird’s interface has not kept up with the times, so that’s just too big of a downgrade in my book – although it still has classic view, which I really like.
Once option I cringed when turning on in Postbox was organizing by threads. I had to because what I liked in Apple Mail was when you highlighted one message, any related messages would also highlight but that’s not the case with Postbox. The only way to get them “together” is with organizing by threads. I suppose I’ll get used to that eventually but I plugged my nose as I did it… yuck!
Postbox is also very slow. I type faster than it can type. I don’t know if it’s slow at spellchecking or what’s going on but that’s very frustrating. Also, I start typing, I go up to the sender fields to change things, then go back down to continue typing and I have to wait. This really slows me down. I hope they improve this. Restarting the program helps but that just points to a memory leak or something, which means the coding isn’t fully tested or the best it can be.
And again… support. I have to pay to ask questions? That’s lame. They also never answered my first request – but they’ll take my money. That’s lamer.
What I Like About Postbox
Well… It’s not horrible.
I guess I like moving everything to GMail. I have an online backup of email, at least. Indexing all that email took all night, but there was a lot.
Honestly, Postbox didn’t live up to the hype. It does what it’s supposed to but it’s not “wowing” me – not at all. Maybe I’ll change my mind as I use it more but the cool features aren’t really out in the open, which leads me to conclude the design of this software could be better. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it could definitely be better. Their marketing department is better than their UI/UX department, let’s put it that way. They could take a few pages from Apple – the way Mail was.
Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?
Leave your comments below about what you think of my review, about what’s happening with Apple Mail, or any questions for me.
[UPDATE 2/17/2020:] Well, I’m back to Apple Mail (sigh). There were some things I liked about Postbox but it wasn’t a good fit after all. I’ll just have to deal with the quirks in Apple Mail until they fix them. The good thing is, I’ve now moved all email online (IMAP) with Google. The bad thing is, I have to rebuild my mail filters yet one more time – I think this is the 3rd or 4th time now. If I’m not getting good enough emails from some of these lists I’m on, I’m unsubscribing – time to purge again!
[UPDATE 11/13/2020:] My world is back in order again. I’m so happy… I can set which columns I want now in Apple Mail and set the width. I won’t be grumpy any more. Hallelujah!!