Nov 112009
 

Gah, I sit in front of my machine swearing a lot. I try to sort my last 3 weeks mail looking for tasks I might have forgotten or not. It is a pain – so much noise: ongoing conversations about tasks not related to me, loads of mails with attachments such as signature images – a couple of times forwarded, wrong combined threads, no related sent mails, some mails seem to be disappeared. Why is it so difficult to get a satisfying solution serving all my requirements when it comes to mail management? I am not greedy!

What I want:

Can deal with IMAP

  • show all folders w/o subscribing them
  • immeadiately show new mails
  • allow to create new folders in frontend

Viewing mails

  • can be configured by folder
  • turn off / on by desire
  • allow to split threads
  • hiding mails in threads (full / consolidated view)
  • thread contain also sent mails

Tagging

  • easy UI for tagging mails (instead of folders) – such as project name
  • rule based tagging
  • different flags such as todo, read it later, follow up by <date>
  • allows to watch threads (favourite settings)
  • prioritize income mail (to split between helpful / important mail and random muttering) – I don’t care which priority is set by the sender. I want to configure the level of importance to me.
  • allow commenting of mails
  • get reference to a specific mail (a file system link which can be used in a to do management tool) – I don’t want to get a mail client with it’s own to-do management system, i want to combine it with my existing system. not every mail causes an todo, not every todo is related to a mail.

Received mails

  • preview without formatting
  • switch between show mail as text or with original formatting
  • hide attached

Searching mails

  • no form for search but pseudo language similar to what google offers
  • fuzzy search – such as ‘ad hoc’ returns ‘adhoc’, ‘ad-hoc’, ‘ad hoc’ etc.
  • search result can be saved as link
  • mass change on found mail (such as category)
  • being intelligent enough to define multiple forwarded mails with the same content as one hit.

Sending mails

  • multiple signatures configurable
  • signature based on rules – depending on the recipient (containing pattern), if replied / forwarded / new mail etc.
  • add tags, flags and follow up configuration if necessary – without popping into 4 windows
  • on click send as text / formatted
  • attachments upload in background
  • mail as attachment can be chosen as well (yes, sometimes this is required!)
  • forwarding: detect and ignore images in signatures automatically

Additional features:

  • fast, intuitive, basic UI – no features, no advertisements, no additional functionality i don’t need.
  • runs on mac, windows and in the internet
  • can deal with 10K+ mails
  • nice address book management: identifying major information e. g. from email footers
  • tbc :)

Why not:

  • Gmail: lots of my requirements can be solved by GMail. But, alas! I might be identified as spam due to the way how external email addresses are handled. I worked around my requirements quite a bit to get them solved with GMail it slows it down and breaks it on every other browser.
  • Mac Mail on Zimbra: this is my current solution and just makes me swear – a lot. Mac Mail doesn’t load mails immediately, threading doesn’t work as desired. Finding mails is impossible. It randomly sorts mails in different folders – for unknown reason there are tw sent folders and I don’t see a pattern which mail gets sorted into which folder by which condition. I suspect mac mail also either hiding or deleting messages as there has been more then once the situation about ‘I knew I got that mail but I don’t find it’.
  • Zimbra Desktop client: no! it is heavy, ugly and not intuitive to use, it needs too many clicks to get to a specific result, the UI is not configurable, the Mac ingtegration (address book, calendar) doesn’t work properly, it has a huge Yahoo search button which I every so often hit accidentally when I want to search for mails. The search UI is crap.

I haven’t tried anything else yet. I used Outlook quite a bit, it’s similar to GMail: it solves half of my requirements. Entourage I didn’t try at all after my desperation earlier this year.

Why is it so important?

  • working in a company which is spread around the world email is a key communication channel. easy access to the information is important.
  • I get about 100 new mails a day – some directly to me, some interesting in mailing lists and some other to mailing lists I don’t need to follow up.
  • I hate being inefficient by manually (!) searching for mails, browsing through noise to find something specific.

What next?

Feel free to recommend work flows, tools, mail clients etc. I am happy to learn.

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