Okay, let’s be honest. I’m a Mac guy. I love Apple products, Apple software, and the Apple way of life. I make no excuses about that. That said, we’ve just go to deal with the gigantic pile of suck named Entourage.
If you don’t know, Entourage is essentially the Mac version of Microsoft Outlook. It comes with the Mac version of Office, along with Word and Excel. For some reason, Microsoft chose not to simply port Outlook over to OS X, much like they’ve done with the other Office programs. Instead, they started over and did their best to totally deconstruct a wonderful PC program, Outlook, and turn it into a useless, buggy, unreliable monstrosity named Entourage. What garbage.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been stuck on Entourage at work because our Exchange server won’t sync my calendar with any other Mac program. That also means I’ve been depending on Entourage for my email. There’s the problem.
Without going into the laundry list of problems, let me just focus on the main one: Entourage doesn’t want me to send some messages. At least once a week, as I’m typing an email, the entire message window closes. Poof. It just disappears. The message doesn’t get sent, it isn’t saved as a draft, it isn’t moved anywhere; it’s just gone. Forever.
What’s worse, it always, ALWAYS happens when I’m in the middle of a long, important, sensitive, and carefully crafted message, often addressed to my boss or other leaders of my company. When it happened yesterday, I threw in the towel. Entourage must die.
I’m locked into it for my calendar, but I have email options. I tried both Apple Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird throughout the day and decided on Mail. It’s nice and clean, super fast, and simple. By simple, I don’t mean weak; I just mean that it does one thing, and it apparently does it very well. I like that in an app. Entourage, on the other hand, chose to go the other direction. It does a thousand different things, and does them all poorly.
Apple Mail is not without its problems. There are some extremely elementary things that it should do, but doesn’t. For example, the preview pane is at the bottom, with no option to move it to the side. Really? I’m sorry, is it 1996? Am I using this program on a 15″ CRT monitor? No. I’m using it on a dual monitor setup based on a 20″ widescreen iMac. I’ve got enough screen real estate. Let me put the preview pane on the right side like every other modern email program, won’t you? At least I solved this one with a third-party add-on, WideMail. This awesome plugin also allowed me to set my inbox message list exactly like I had it on Entourage (which I liked). See the side-by-side below.
Apple Mail vs. Entourage Message List
Also annoying is the way it handles image and PDF attachments. Attachment isn’t even the right word, since you can’t really “attach” image files. Instead, Mail inserts the images inline in the message body, regardless of size, orientation, or anything else. Worse, it does the same thing with PDF documents. I’m sorry, I’m not a four-year-old-girl trying to figure out how to email a picture to my grandmommy. I’m a professional who has to email image files and PDF docs to other professionals, and sometimes to automated systems that don’t recognize embedded PDFs. Epic fail. Again, fixed with a third-party application.
And last, the most annoying of all is the one that, I must admit, is most characteristic of Apple. If you’re using the preview pane, there is no way under the sun to prevent Mail from marking a message as “read” if you’ve clicked on it. How ridiculous. Even I have to admit that choosing to not do the simplest thing, despite the fact that every other email program on earth does it, is a total Apple move. This one is killing me. Even if I sneak a peek at a message in the preview pane, I still like to keep messages marked as unread in the message list if I want to come back to them later. Having them all appear as read is a joke.
So, there’s my email rant of the year. Entourage stinks, Thunderbird failed out of the gate, and Apple Mail is workable, but comes up short on the most basic things. I hate to admit it, but finding a quality email client is the one part of the Apple lifestyle that I find hard to defend to the naysayers. It just makes me glad I use Gmail for my personal stuff.
UDPATE: There’s a possible fix for this random deleting behavior. Check the comments for this post.