Monday, November 12

Mail.app and Safari... sadly not up to snuff for my needs

Mail

When I saw the IMAP feature enabled in my GMail account last week, I thought I'd hit the jackpot. I set it up immediately and started using the built-in OS X mail client I'd heard so many raves about. I gave it a good solid week of faithful use but in the end I just had to go back to GMail's web interface. There were two features I just couldn't live without:

1. Labels. I'm the kind of guy that puts multiple labels on some messages. This message might be an order status from Amazon for my daughter's X-mas gift, so it gets the "expenses" label and the "daughter" label. You just can't do that in OS X Mail; it translates labels to folders and flattens it to a one-to-one relationship; you can only put the message into one folder.

2. Searching. I didn't realize, until after my switch, how often I search my massive archive of e-mail for absolutely ancient pieces of correspondence. Just this morning somebody asked me when I had purchased my first Mac. I typed the model name into GMail's search field and in less than a second up came the order confirmation e-mail.

Safari

Even though Mail.app didn't float my boat, I decided to continue the experiment this week and switch cold-turkey to Safari from Firefox. It's been two hours now and I'm already feeling the pain.

1. Tabs. Praise be to all things holy that Firefox eventually got tabs right. I want every pop-up link from every site and every embedded link in every application to open up in a new tab, never a new window. One window to rule them all! This simply isn't possible with Safari. Granted, there is a commercial plug-in that supposedly resolves this, but I'm not paying a dime to make a built-in application work as well as the free market leader.

2. Plug-ins. I try to keep my plugs-ins to a minimum. I hate bloat and waste of memory and CPU cycles. It's my OCD nature. But there's a few plug-ins that I just can't live without.

- Firebug simply can't be lived without when you need to debug Javascript and CSS debacles.

- Linky let's me select a group of links on a page and open them all in tabs. This is priceless for doing change-set code reviews in Trac.

- AdBlock Plus blocks ads. 'Nuff said.

- Flashblock blocks Flash applets, presenting them with a nice little "play" button so that if I really (for some insane reason) want to punch the monkey I have the option.

I don't think I'm going to make it the entire week on Safari. I'm certainly going to have to pull up Firefox for some tasks I simply can't do in Safari (re: Firebug and Linky) and it doesn't make much sense to switch between two browsers when one of them already satisfies all your needs. But I'm going to try...

Update #1: I do have one huge gripe with Firefox (on the Mac). When you open a new tab, the page up/down and arrow keys do not work until you click somewhere on the page. Safari doesn't have this annoyance.

Update #2: Game over! I just tried to load up Google Spreadsheets in Safari and it doesn't work and it's not supported. That's one too many strikes. Sorry Safari.

Update #3: I gotta admit that the eye candy in Safari (native OS X form widgets, buttons, fields, font smoothing, etc.) looks a lot better than in Firefox, but looks don't compensate for lack of functionality, usability, and productivity.

3 comments:

David Herman said...

Maybe I can't find it but in safari I want to be able to type google and hit some key + enter and have it type the http://www. in the beginning and add .com at the end. Firefox does this, hell even IE does this, why can't safari (unless it can and I don't know it)

zerohalo said...

@david: Just type "google" and press enter - presto!

Rob Misek said...

Not sure if this will help you with your GMail-Mail.app-Label issues but if you are going to give Mail.app a shot in general you have to check out MailTags and Act-On from http://www.indev.ca/