Why Web-mail alone doesn’t work for me

I installed OS X Mavericks on my MacBook Air Wednesday, and now I can no longer use my Google-hosted work e-mail account in my laptop’s copy of Apple’s Mail–an undocumented change in how that client treats Google IMAP accounts has made them borderline unusable, at least if you want to move a message out of your inbox.

Gmail Offline app(Thanks, Apple! Really, you shouldn’t have.)

My complaint about this issue yielded the responses I should have expected: Why not just use only Web-mail? That’s a fair question. Here are a few reasons why I’d rather not:

Offline access. Google does provide a capable offline app for Gmail, and I use it all the time–but its Chrome-only Gmail Offline can only download the last month’s worth of mail. To find anything older, I need to get back online. It’s also easier to take my e-mail to another host if all my old messages are already synced to my hard drive.

A separate tool for a separate task. Because a mail client has its own interactive Dock or taskbar button, it can show in real time how many messages have arrived–and can’t get overlooked among 20 other open browser tabs. And without ads or a browser toolbar that doesn’t help with mail management, I can see more of my mail.

Message management. It takes fewer clicks to select a batch of messages and move them to another folder–especially if they’re not contiguous–in a local mail client than in Gmail’s standard interface, much less the simpler Gmail Offline.

Quick Look. If somebody sends me a Word, PDF or some kind of complex document, I can get an instant preview of it by selecting the document and hitting the space bar, courtesy of OS X’s Quick Look feature. In Gmail, I have to wait for the file to download and preview in a separate window.

Better calendar integration. Both Gmail and Mail can create a new calendar event if they see a date or time in a message, but Gmail insists on adding that to your default Google calendar. Mail allows you to add it to the calendar of your choice.

Individually, these are little differences, but they add up. And while a better Web-mail system could address them all someday, I can have these things on my checklist today with a functioning client running on my Mac. It’s too bad Apple chose to break its own.

So do I now switch to something like Postbox or Airmail–or do I get around Google’s wonky implementation of IMAP entirely by switching to, say, Microsoft’s newly IMAP-comaptible Outlook.com? That’s a topic for another post. But I welcome your input in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “Why Web-mail alone doesn’t work for me

  1. Heads up! Just heard this from a friend:

    Turning on keychain sync for #Apple #Mavericks is a bad idea if you’re using the more advanced security settings on FB, Google and Yahoo….

    Basically, the moment I turned it on on the 2nd Mac, all those accounts broke.

    I suspect that it doesn’t play well with other system’s two factor authentication.

  2. OK, I’ll risk displeasure, but why not use Thunderbird? I have tried many times to switch to Apple Mail and each time it just doesn’t cut it for me. I keep going back to Thunderbird.

    Of course, Thunderbird isn’t perfect. It has its problems with locking-up and occasional sync issues, but on whole, it’s the least worst of mail programs.

    • A reasoned argument should never cause displeasure! Since you asked, I left out Tbird because the Mac version of what was once my default Windows mail client had seemed an awkward fit in OS X. But I should give it another look.

  3. Agreed. I too had misgivings about continuing to use Thunderbird when I ditched Windows for Mac back in 2008. Although there were times when it was a struggle due to lock-ups that would eat my CPU, the past 2 years with Thunderbird have been much less annoying.

    I also agree that it’s an awkward fit with OS X, but I find that email is it’s own universe that is best left independent from too much integration with the OS.

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