MacApper has a critique of Apple’s Mail. A few of their points are good. While Mail supports HTML stationary it’s simply too hard to add your own. (I’ve not encountered the attachment problem, but then I rarely use stationary myself since HTML doesn’t always render properly in other email clients) Several of the other problems are due to how limited iCal and Address Book are.
Realistically many people want something far more robust. I’d say 90% of my practical complaints of OSX reduce to iCal and Address Book being too limited.
Yes you can get third party options. But the additions don’t integrate into OSX as a whole. Really what Apple needs to do is either make a CRM program to be part of iWork or at least make iCal and Address Book more robust.
Most of the real problems with Mail are some stability issues with IMAP and then limited scripting features, no integrated tagging feature (although there are 3rd party plugins) and limited support for standard encryption like PGP. Honestly with a program like Mail everything needs to be scriptable. (I’ve harped on this before) Beyond those issues, I’m frankly amazed at how great a Mail client Apple’s Mail really is. I much prefer it to either Mozilla’s or Microsoft’s offerings.
The places where third party mail clients are superior really aren’t in mail proper but in extended CRM capabilities. And OSX’s PIM and CRM features are frankly dismal compared to Office on Windows.
If we do decide to judge Mail, iCal, and Address Book as one big happy (unhappy?) family then there are some huge gaps.
1. Group email. I should be able to select a bunch of contacts and create a single email, optionally having each contact get its own email or have them all in a single bcc or to field.
2. Check groups. I should be able to click on a contact and see what groups it belongs to and easily add it to groups.
3. Tags. I should be able to assign arbitrary tags to contacts, mail messages, to-dos, or events and search for them.
4. Associations. I should be able to have a nice GUI for associating mail, contacts, events, and to-dos. That is I should be able with a single click see all email to, from or about a particular client. I should be able to quickly see events and to-dos associated with a client. I should also have some sort of “project” grouping that groups disparate events, mail, contacts and the like.
5. Categories of timers. Right now all timers/events are created equal in iCal. Really I should be able to separate them out a bit better. There are some broad categories you can create with separate calendars but it’s not ideal. I should also be able to see new events/to-dos for a day of a particular category at a glance. (Say separating out leads, projects and customers)
6. Event GUI. The iCal event GUI is just far too limited. I should have the ability to save that event and have it associated with clients and automatically schedule an other event. That way I can use events not just as reminders but also as a form of diary which I can easily access as a list.
7. Stationary. I should be able to have custom stationary associated with contacts or groups. This is HUGE. Stationary should be easy to create as well. I don’t care if they require Pages to create more robust forms. Better custom stationary alone isn’t enough. The kind of stationary I associate with my parents is different from that for vendors or that for clients or leads. I’d even be happy if it were simple stationary rather than the fancy stuff Mail supports. (I’d probably use simple boilerplate myself)
8. Better archiving. There has to be a way for Mail to archive messages older than some period (say 2 years). That way the main index is smaller but you could optionally still use Spotlight to search the archives occasionally. For those power users who maintain old messages this would be very appreciated.
9. Nested to-dos. Appigo ToDo along with several other iPhone ToDo programs offer nested To-Dos. So you might have say a shopping list. Go to the grocery store in the main To-Do but underneath you have the items on your grocery list. Likewise associating To-Dos with various groups would be very nice. Either a project grouping or even just having arbitrary associations. (See 4 & 5 above)
10. Reports. Apple’s report generation is horrible in iCal and Address Book. A simple report generate to deal with the data we current have is necessary. However if we have more associations then more reports are necessary.
Yeah, it’s probably a pipe dream that Apple would add these to the stock form of OSX. But heck, give us a power user version with iWork. I can guarantee that if Apple had this more 3rd party applications would work with it. (Already a lot of programs utilize Address Book and iCal integration – and it is very nice!) Apple can be truly enabling here.