Lion In The Spotlight: Mail 5Written by John Thompson on July 25, 2011 · Filed under Software
I’ve never been a massive fan of Mail in Mac OS X. If I wasn’t having a technical issue with it, I’d be yearning for more advanced features such as conversation view that I needed a program such as Postbox to access, and more often than not I’d revert back to Postbox every time I chose a mail client on my computer.
With Mail 5 in Lion, however, Apple has made some major strides with its e-mail client, tweaking the UI to better fit widescreen layouts, offering full screen support and adding a host of other new features which make it one of the best mail clients available. In fact, I’ve been using it for a few months now and I haven’t even installed Postbox in Lion…
The main change to the UI in Lion is the widescreen layout, which places two or three, depending on your preference, columns on the screen. The column to the far right hand side is a preview column which shows your messages when you click on them in your inbox so that you don’t need to open them to view their contents. In the first column is a view of all your folders and different account. If you have more than just a regular inbox set up then you’ll want to have this visible. In a three column setup, the middle column houses the contents of whichever folder you’re currently viewing.
If you’re reading a string of emails, Mail 5 now places them in one thread in your inbox to keep it tidy and avoid clutter. Within the email, there is also a conversation view which is new to Mail, and allows you to read all the previous emails which have been sent. If you want to see your replies – by default, only emails received in the thread are shown – then you can click on the “See more” text to expand the thread. Apple has put a little eye candy in here as the page actually folds out to reveal your text, which does look very cool.
In the previous version of Mail, all emails being composed were completed in a separate window to the main program, but now that Mail 5 supports full screen mode, you instead get a very neat slide in window to compose your email in, similar to how you do in the Mail application on the iPad. You can compose your email as you would in the previous version of Mail, and then once you are ready to send it to the recipient, you just hit send and the window slides back down out of sight again whilst your message is sent in the background.
There’s no doubt that Mail 5 has placed Apple’s e-mail client way ahead of most of the competition – especially the free competition – and it’s made up a lot of ground against applications such as Postbox, which people are now far less likely to pay for if they have a free client from Apple that does just as good a job.
If you’re a Lion user you will no doubt have tried Mail already, so let us know what you think! Will you be switching back from Thunderbird or Postbox, or even Outlook? Fire off in the comments!