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I Tried to Like Postbox, I Really Did

If you haven’t yet heard about Postbox, it’s a new Mac OS X e-mail application built on Mozilla technology that intends to offer a new and different way of working with e-mail. From the Postbox web site, you can look at some of the features the application offers as well as see some screenshots.

I’ve been testing Postbox off and on since I was first invited into the beta, and at first I was really excited about Postbox. You see, I have my complaints about, but there really aren’t any good alternatives. Given that Postbox is based on Mozilla Thunderbird and I’d heard good things about Thunderbird, I was excited that someone was releasing a more “Mac-native” version. I didn’t want just a Mac port of an existing application, but rather a Mac-integrated build. That’s why, for example, I use Camino instead of the Mac version of Firefox.

Although Postbox is a really nice application with features that some users will love, for me it just wasn’t (and isn’t) the right fit. Here are my reasons why. Keep in mind as you read this that YMMV (your mileage may vary).

  • I switch back and forth a lot between my home network, which has an HTTP proxy, and other networks that do not have an HTTP proxy. Currently I use Quicksilver to switch between two network locations that are identical except for the proxy settings. Postbox doesn’t honor the systemwide proxy settings, so switching back and forth between networks now requires another step. (This is one of those things that makes Postbox feel like a Mac port, not a Mac-native build.)

  • Postbox doesn’t integrate with the Mac OS X Keychain.

  • It appears that Postbox’s search functionality isn’t tied to Spotlight. Why not leverage Spotlight?

  • Postbox offers integration with the Mac OS X Address Book but also maintains its own address book. Why?

  • I don’t need Facebook, FriendFeed, or even Twitter integration in my e-mail client. I have other applications for those services.

  • I don’t like tabbed interfaces. Postbox does offer the ability to open messages in a new window instead of a new tab (thankfully!), but you can’t turn the tabs off. I suppose this would be difficult given the UI layout and how it’s used for the search features.

  • Speaking of search features, I don’t really need web search integration in my e-mail message windows. I also don’t need image searching features. I’m sure that home users that are sharing pictures with family members and friends would find that feature helpful, but not me.

  • I’d like to be able to turn off features that I don’t want to see, like the preview pane (a long time complaint of mine with as well!), the Compose Sidebar, and the web search pane. But you can’t, at least not as far as I can tell.

  • I’d love to see AppleScript support. That would include the ability to launch an AppleScript from a message filter.

All of this is not to say that Postbox is a bad application; quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just not the right application for me. Other users with other needs will likely find it to be a great fit for them. For me, I need an e-mail application that is focused on doing just one thing and doing it really, really well: managing e-mail. So far, I’m still searching.

Anyone else out there using Postbox? I’d love to hear someone who’s using it and loving it (and who’s not a Postbox employee!). Feel free to speak up in the comments.

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