Is Mail.app The Right Choice For Me?

by Dave in


Well, I think after three years with the same e-mail client, it may be time to move on... or perhaps even backwards, in a manner of speaking. From 1994 to 2002, I used Eudora. Then when OS X came out, I migrated everything to Apple's Mail.app -- I figured I had to, being that I do what I do. That lasted a little over a year, during which I realized that Mail simply wasn't yet cut out to handle the volume of e-mail I needed to manage. At that point, I switched to Mailsmith, and have been there ever since. Not only am I a huge fan of other BareBones software (these days, BBEdit and Yojimbo), but I just liked the way Mailsmith worked for me. I detailed all of this in my review at the time. Since then, though, I realize that Mail.app has come a *long* way and Mailsmith, by most rights, has stagnated. It pains me to write this, because as I said, I'm a really big fan of BareBones, and enjoy a great working relationship with their head-honcho, Rich Siegel. But it's true... Mailsmith hasn't had a public release/update since March of 2005. Now some folks may argue that it doesn't need an update, and for those folks, I'm sure that's correct. My big problem is that I manage a LOT of e-mail... I have almost 1400 mailboxes within which are nearly 200,000 e-mail messages. I pretty much save everything, and it's saved my ass in HUGE ways over the years, so I ain't gonna stop. Launching Mailsmith now takes me nearly 3 minutes, and quitting takes almost 5. While it's running, it uses hundreds and hundreds of megabytes of RAM and, from my own testing, takes up even more swap space (and I've got 2GB of RAM in my laptop!). On top of that searching and parsing things has gotten painfully slow. The bottom line: the existing situation simply cannot continue. It's impacting my workflow in a significantly negative way. So my choice is either to stay with Mailsmith but archive all my mail out somewhere, or switch to something that can handle it. My big problem is that, as far as I can tell, there is no way to automatically migrate all of my mail out of Mailsmith while preserving the hierarchy of 1400 mailboxes that exists. I did just recently stumble across a script that will export all the mailboxes, but it simply dumps them all into one folder, flat, with no hierarchy. Better than nothing. (Update -- Yesterday I updated that script to make it export to a full hierarchy. :-) Enjoy!). With that, I'm trying a test: I'm now importing that flat structure into Mail.app to see how it handles that kind of volume these days. The import is taking a while, as one would expect, and hopefully I'll have an answer to that particular question soon.

But I ask you: knowing what you know, is Mail.app the right choice for me? Any heavy-duty Mail.app users out there who care to chime in and help a fellow nerd? ;-)

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