I am on a neverending quest to find an email client that doesn’t drive me bonkers.

I spend at least half my work day dealing with email. This is by design. I am a support administrator for the faculty, and I prefer to work through email rather than on the phone. That way, I can prioritize requests; the phone ringing usurps this system, giving all calls the same (high) priority. Plus it drives me nuts.

So. I need an email client that can handle the job. To me, this does not seem like too much to ask. What I require is:

  1. IMAP capabilities.
  2. Functional mail templates, including “Reply with Template”. I send the same email responses repeatedly, and need to be able to do this quickly, but without it seeming like I’m sending off form letters.
  3. Threaded messages. I like to organize things into threads. Real threads. The kind that can be minimized and maximized.
  4. Spell check. Prefereably inline.
  5. Drag and drop moving of messages. I manage three accounts and need to be able to easily transfer messages between them.
  6. Free. I work for the State of California. Enough said.

I have been switching clients about every two weeks for the last six months trying to find something that will work. I have tried:

  • “Apple’s Mail.app.”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/jaguar/mail.html This does not support templates, but I have gotten around that by springing $10 of my own money on a nice little piece of shareware from Abracode , called MailTemplate . I’m very happy with this product, but I’m not happy about having to buy it. It should be part of the package. Mail also can’t handle sophisticated threading, wich right now is its major fault for me. I know this is promised for the version packaged with Panther, but even after it’s released I have to convince work to pay for an OS upgrade before I can use it.
  • Mozilla Mail / Thunderbird . In theory, I would love to use this product, but in practice, it’s just not working out. The template support is not good enough. There is no way to reply with a template— all template messages must be new messages. This is not good for keeping threads, or for client relations. Plus, the interface is just too chunky and unsophisticated for me. I much prefer the aqua interface of Mail.app.
  • Entourage. I already had the Office X suite, so I thought I’d give this a try. Talk about a chunky interface! With this I can’t even drag messages to another account, which makes it completely useless. Plus, I get tons of error messages because it can’t connect to the server, etc. I have a feeling this is probably due to bloated code that plagues all Office products. However, it does beat Mail.app on it’s threading, and Abracode has a good shareware template editor for this as well.
  • GyazMail. Looks like it would be an elegant app, but doesn’t support IMAP. This prevents me from even really giving it a good evaluation.

So lately, I’ve landed back on Mail.app and am dreaming of the day they do a better job with their threading. But I am still largely unsatisfied, and prone to spending long hours scouring the web for something that will work out better. Any suggestions would be most welcome…
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