As many of you know, I've been in flux with my e-mail management system, and I think I've found a very workable solution for me. Though I discussed it on the most recent Mac Geek Gab podcast, enough of you have e-mailed me about this that I thought I'd type about it here, too. For the last 3+ years I've kept all my mail (and I mean all 180,000 messages and 1,400 folders/mailboxes) in Mailsmith. The problem is that Mailsmith simply isn't built to be RAM-efficient with that many mailboxes, so my machine was constantly bogged down. This was the catalyst for me "looking elsewhere," but once I did, I was able to see the forest from the trees.
You see, I'm also a Treo 650 user. And on my Treo, I use ChatterEmail+, an IMAP client, to manage my mail. My mail flows into my accounts on our server, then gets forwarded out to Gmail (since their spam filters are so darned good -- anyone know of anything better.. and open source?), then from Gmail back to my IMAP account (on our server) that my Treo reads. I had Mailsmith checking POP from Gmail, and then if I wasn't at my desk, I could either get my mail on my Treo or at Gmail's web interface.
What this meant was that I have been managing three distinct inboxes (Mailsmith, Treo, Gmail) for over a year and, because it was a system built in layers, I didn't realize how inefficient it was.
When I started considering other desktop mail clients (again, for purposes of better managing my massive mail store), naturally some of the ones I considered supported IMAP (Mailsmith is POP-only). And that's when it hit me: I have an IMAP account set up (for my Treo) -- why not simply have *everything* point to it? My e-mail client on my Macs at work and home can certainly do it, my phone already does it and, with SquirrelMail installed on our server, I can access it on the web, too. One inbox... managed anywhere... ahh... a beautiful thing!
So this is how I've been living for the last 5 days, and it's wonderful. I can't believe I didn't do it sooner. If I see a message on my Treo, I can read it, file it appropriately, and it's done... 100%. I don't need to deal with it "from scratch" when I get back to my desk, nothing. It's where it should be and is ready to go. Rapidly approaching Nirvana, indeed.
Oh, and for the record, my (current) Mail client of choice on my Macs: Apple's Mail.app. It's not perfect but it does nearly everything I want (with the help of some third-party extensions), and searching my 180,000+ message mail archive takes seconds on my MacBook Pro, so I'm a happy camper.