adventures in email

If you've ever e-mailed me before or if you have been reading my blog for a while then you're probably well aware that I majorly suck at e-mail. I'm just so bad at replying quickly... or at all. This year I am *determined* to finally tame my inbox though. I think I might have finally found the perfect mail program, so I thought I'd share it in case anyone else is equally inadequate at answering their messages.

For a while I was using the native mac mail program (I have multiple email addresses so I need something that groups them all together) but it kept crashing constantly and honestly I wasn't super thrilled with it anyway. So about a month ago I downloaded Postbox. They had a 30 day free trial and after a couple days I was pretty sure I was going to buy it. It wasn't perfect, but it seemed so much better than what I had been used to.

My 30 day trial came to a close last week and I didn't buy it. The honeymoon period ended REALLY fast. It might work for some people, but for me it loaded way too slow and grouped my messages in a really odd way. Not to mention the fact that I saw messages vanish right before my eyes (I still can't find them! And how many messages disappeared without me even knowing?!) and I'm pretty sure a lot of my sent mail was never delivered. Either that or a ton of people have conspired to give me a taste of my own medicine and are neglecting to ever write me back. hmmm....

Anyway, enter: MailMate. I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS PROGRAM.

The layout is very similar to the mac mail program, but it loads very fast and doesn't have many bells and whistles. It has plain text buttons and a simple streamlined design. It does what a mail program should do, and it does it well. But there are two particular features that made this THE ONE.

When I first opened the program I had zero unread messages, but there was this number on my desktop. I couldn't figure out what the heck it was at first, but then I clicked on it (duh.) and it turns out it's the number of your flagged messages. This is such a godsend for me, you have no idea. My main e-mail issue is that I read things, flag them to reply later, and then forget they exist. Well not anymore! To me this number is even more important than an unread count! This is the "Hey, Kate!! You have 46 emails you need to reply to!!" number. SO helpful!

The second feature that sold me on MailMate is the correspondence pane. In Postbox messages were grouped into threads by conversation. I felt like it made replying and keeping track of the history of a conversation more cumbersome than helpful, and it didn't detect every single message so more often than not I'd end up searching for an email that should have been in the thread. And you couldn't toggle that option off (at least I couldn't find a way to toggle it off.)

In MailMate, not only can you turn off conversation threading (which I did, immediately!) but you can add a conversation pane, which shows a list of all of your messages (received and sent) between you and the other person. In the first photo you can see that when I clicked on my most recent blog post email, the conversation pane showed an at-a-glance list of all of the other blog post emails I've ever received.

One more exciting feature is that you can turn on keybindings, which lets you perform mail functions by hitting certain keys. When I hit "s" it toggles a message as flagged or unflagged. Hitting "c" creates a new message! It just makes organizing my inbox and replying to messages go much quicker than it would if I had to click-click-click.

I'm so excited about finally finding a program that I love! The only downside is that switching to a new program unfortunately did not magically answer all of my pending messages lol. I still have to do that myself ;p But at least it is more organized now and easier to manage! yay!

ps. the system requirements for MailMate say Mac OS X 10.7 or later, but I have 10.6.8 and it's working perfectly for me :)