For too long, I was being too fussy. Every time I tried Thunderbird, I abandoned it scant hours later, unable to forgive it for not fitting, precisely, the way I work.
Turned out that by making a few adjustments to my established working pattern - or, put another way, just relaxing a little bit - I started to see a side to it that I could work with.
The most obvious benefit of switching to Thunderbird is its speed. This morning I checked for new mail and watched the status bar; Thunderbird connected to my IMAP server, found 45 new messages, and fetched them in a few seconds. Given the same task, I’d expect Mail to take well over a minute, pausing to ‘evaluate’ the messages, which always takes an age.
Mail’s continuing inability to work fast was just annoying; but last week, when it decided to stop displaying threaded messages in a logical manner, I lost my temper very quickly. Instead of opening a thread with the first message as the frontmost window, and subsequent messages in a series of stacked windows underneath, Mail opened them all in apparent random order. I’d end up seeing a message from the middle or the end of the thread first.
I was this close to switching to Gmail as my full-time mail client, but one thought stopped me: I’m willing to put my trust in Google now, but will that always be the case? Do I want to put my entire mail archive in the hands of a corporation which, like all commercial outfits, might one day be bought or sold, into who knows whose hands? No, I don’t.
So my choice was simple: grit my teeth and continue to use Mail, no matter how slow and annoying it is. Or switch to Thunderbird.
Which is annoying in itself, because it means I have to teach my fingers a bunch of new keyboard commands, and I can no longer use Act-On, and I’ve had to get used to a different way of displaying and browsing through my messages. I used to say (until very recently, in fact) that Mail was the least worst email client for OS X, but I’ve simply changed my mind; now I say Thunderbird holds that dubious honour. It has its faults too, but I find them far less annoying than the ones that drove me crazy in Mail.
If I’m prepared to be a little bit flexible, I think I can learn to live with Thunderbird in the long-term, or at least until something else comes along.
And that might be sooner than I expected.
Last week, I stumbled upon Kiwi, a Cocoa IMAP email client currently being developed by Matt Ronge. The screenshots - and that’s all there is to see at the moment, there’s nothing to download - look enticing. I can’t wait to try a beta.
Seems like I spend far too much time worrying about email clients