And Lion’s "New" Mail? Oh, unredeemable Mail…

Nothing in Max OS X Lion mattered more to me than the hope that Mail would be truly improved. Despite its failings, Mail’s integration with the OS has always made it worth putting up with, and no competitor has ever been able to lure me away. (I have tried mightily to like Postbox, and I suspect it is the best alternative for most people, or perhaps now Sparrow as well, which was the hands-down simplest choice when my wife needed a client for her Gmail account. But there have been insurmountable issues for me.)

So certainly it’s not all bad news about Mail. Here’s some of the good to start, although it’s generally damning it with faint praise:

And now the bad news

Let’s start with a nemesis bug that symbolizes all that is wrong with an impressively lame bug, a head-shaker bug, the kind of bug that really makes you wonder if anyone is at the wheel … and it has still not been squashed. When Leopard pounced in the fall of 2007, Mail lost the ability to reliably use a rule to play a sound. I had been happily using a rule like this to play a “purr” sound upon receipt of an order notification — the delightful sound of making money. (Cool, eh?) After installing Leopard, the purring either failed altogether, or was delayed by many minutes or, eye-rollingly, even an hour or two.

I was amazed to watch this bug remain consistent not only through new machines and clean installs, but even through upgrading to Snow Leopard … and now Lion and a major overhaul of Mail. Indeed, it is actually obviously even worse now: I am unable to trigger a sound even by “manually” applying the rules to selected messages, which always was always how I confirmed that the rule was at functional in principle before, even if it refused to trigger automatically. Now I cannot even trigger the rule manually! Incredible! And so Mail, through three major OS upgrades, is still unable to perform one of the simplest and most useful rule-based functions imaginable.

And people are puzzled when I say that sucks!

But there’s so much more …

There’s more — oh, indeedy — but this is too long already. Next time: Mail search and “smart” mailboxes are still kinda lame.