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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Leopard wish list – Part two: Mail

November 13, 2006

I’m not as much of a power-user of Mail as I probably could be. There are features of Mail that I simply do not use, and therefore my request for Mail are rather light. However, I do feel that some of my requests make sense, so hopefully they will be included in Leopard.

Fixes

Here are some things that I believe should be fixed in Mail.

Smart Mailbox rules are seemingly complete – though I find one oddity among them. When you select the “Message is in Mailbox” filter, you are presented with every Mailbox you’ve setup – even the Smart Mailboxes that you’ve already created. However, if you select the “Message is not in Mailbox” filter, you are not given the Smart Mailboxes as options. I’ve thought about this for awhile, and I still can’t figure out the reason.

The search box should allow for multiple filters such as you find in the current Finder. Searching for a subject, then being able to click to drill down until you find what you are looking for. I have about 12,500 pieces of email, and finding the 1 that I am looking for can sometimes prove difficult with a single search filter.

The address book panel seems very OS 9-ish. It works, but I’d like to see the design of this updated a bit.

Feature requests

I realize that Mail is getting “a significant upgrade” when Leopard is release, though the major feature additions looked atrocious in my opinion. Here are some things I’d like to see.

The iLife Media Browser would be an awesome addition to Mail’s default set of icons on the New Mail window. Attaching photos from your iPhoto Library is quick and easy – if you already have iPhoto open. I envision a time where we can click on the Media Browser (similar to what you find in Pages, iMove, etc) and find a photo or photos and attach them with ease.

Side note: The new version of Mail will have “stationary” – and from what I can tell from the screenshots released so far there is a new button called “Photo Browser” at the top. I hope that this is not a brand-new, non-standard media browser that does not use the same frameworks that are used throughout the system so far. And, I hope that this button is not only enabled when you choose a particular style of stationary that allows for photos. We need this feature to be available any time we want to send normal attachments.

An all new way to attach files would be nice. Utilizing a media browser to attached photos, audio, and perhaps even video – would be nice. But I can see definite improvements that could be made to attaching documents, spreadsheets, and compressed archives too.

Imagine you need to attach an Excel spreadsheet, a PDF document, and a .Zip file full of product images to an email. When you do this, I would like to see a preview of the document that I am going to attach. (This does currently work with PDFs and Images) I’d like to see previews for Excel spreadsheets, Text files, Rich-Text Files, Word Documents, .Pages documents, Keynote Presentations, and anything else that usually resides in the document window.

As per .Zip archive files, it’d be nice to select a zip file in the “attach file” panel and be able to see the file names of the files within the archive. This would ensure that I’ve selected the correct file to attach.

Automatic compression of multiple file attachments is something that was “introduced” by AOL back in the mid to late 90s. I have not used America Online since then, so I have no idea if this feature still exists.

If I had an email with multiple attachments, as described above, Mail could automatically compress those files on send. This way, the transmission of data would be slightly smaller. On the other end, Mail.app would uncompress those files into their original state prior to displaying the message to the recipient.

Side note: The biggest problem with this feature in AOL (circa version 2 or 3) was that when you sent email to anyone that was not an AOL user, they’d just get a .zip file. Back in those days .zip files were not yet the norm, and so you had to have people go to winzip.com or something to download a utility to uncompress those files. In other words, their email client did not have the “automatically uncompress files upon receipt” feature. Annoying to say the least.

The other problem with this is, Mail would have to have a slightly proprietary compression format so that when a .zip, .tar, .bz (etc) type of file would come in, it wouldn’t always uncompress those files. If I was sent 1,000 text files in a .zip archive, I wouldn’t want those files automatically uncompressed by Mail.

Final thoughts

I’m trying not to be too picky, otherwise this list would get quite long. Any application that is used as often as an email client always gets more than it’s share of scrutiny. I’m fairly happy with my email client to-date, and I hope that the trend continues.

Side note: Leopard Mail will include Stationary, Notes, To-Dos, and RSS feed reading ability. From what I’ve seen so far, I do not “like” any of them (even though what I did see would be considered BETA).

The Stationary seems a bit superfluous though I can see people having a ball using them. The Notes doesn’t make sense to me yet simply because I do not email myself notes. There are hundreds of ways to “take notes” on the Mac OS ranging from widgets to small menu bar applications to full-blown GTD applications. The “to-dos” in Mail seem like they’d be better kept and updated within iCal. I’m sure the integration between iCal and Mail will be might tighter this time around – so I’ll have to see that integration prior to passing judgement.

RSS within Mail is a completely new headache to me. RSS feeds within Safari is only made for those people who keep track of a few web sites. With constant attention to feed management you may even be able to get away with having 100 subscriptions in Safari without pulling your hair out. Unless the integration of RSS feeds (which should be called “Feeds” but we’ve already talked about that), rivals that of NetNewsWire, then I see no improvement than using Safari for your subscriptions. Too much synergy may not be a good thing in this case.

Note: Be sure to check out other parts of my Leopard wish list listed below:

  1. Part one: Safari
  2. Part two: Mail
  3. Part three: iChat
  4. Part three: Finder

[tags]apple, macintosh, mac os x, osx, mail.app, mail, iphoto, ilife, safari, leopard, mac os 10.5, wish list, ical, gtd, stationary, notes, to-dos, rss[/tags]

[slug]leopard-wishes-pt2-mail[/slug]