Mail.app vs Entourage
It's been a few weeks since I've been on this lovely MacBook Pro. It's a fabulous little laptop. And probably one of the tasks I've spent the most time doing is sending and receiving email.
Keep in mind, this is from the point of view of a die-hard Windows user of many years. I've been using Microsoft Outlook and had really gotten to like the most recent version in Office 2007.
My default view in Outlook 2007 gave me all of my information at a glance: my inbox, a list of favourite folders that I used to track current projects, a quick view of upcoming appointments, and my to-do list which included flagged emails (which could be further categorized by colour).
My first idea was to skip having to use Office for the Mac altogether. I paid for iWorks which gave me all the apps I felt I'd need in the beginning. Mail.app fit the bill, for the most part. Some things, though, were different from what I was used to. I didn't like that email, the address book, and the calendar were all separate apps. I used to do all of this within a single application.
I do like the design of Mail.app. It's clean and easy to navigate. It's also simple and straightforward and really gets out of your way, focusing only on the important task: the email.
I don't like that Mail.app nor Calendar.app send responses to calendar appointments that I confirmed and it stops me from moving an event on my schedule that was created by somebody else. In Outlook, I'd be able to move it and then send an update to the person who originally sent the invite requesting a time change.
I hate the way Mail.app handles attachments by placing big chunky previews right in my email. Ick. I prefer them to be named attachments listed somewhere else, out of the content of my email. (I've since discovered that you can change this via a terminal command.)
There doesn't seem to be support for email to be sent at a different time. It's not unusual for me to be up in the middle of the night writing out an email (or a blog post, as the case happens to be) but I don't actually want to send the email until 9am so that clients don't think I'm up 24/7 and at their beck and call.
When I first installed Entourage, there was an initial sense of comfort. Ah, the familiar 3 column view! But that comfort was short-lived. Overall, the design of Entourage is horrendous. It doesn't seem to follow Mac conventions, the purple accents are ugly (and unchangeable), default font sizes were too big and line spacing was too large. Very little of the interface seems to be customizable.
A number of the elements provide way too much spacing and in other places, not enough. It's missing the favourite folders feature that I liked so much in Outlook, or rather, is now a toolbar but my folder names are longer and sometimes I'd have too many to display horizontally. I just want a vertical list.
It looks like Entourage supports delayed emails but no, I don't think it does. There's a Send Later feature but all it does is send the email the "next time you connect to the server", which just happens to be every 10 minutes when I check my mail. I don't really need to delay sending an email just for that.
I do like how it handles attachments. Being able to see the file names in a list at the top is nice. Why Mail.app insists on attachments being viewed inline, I have no idea.
And why can't Entourage import from an Outlook .pst file? They're from the same company! Thankfully, it pulled everything in from Mail.app just fine and the syncing of address book and calendar was nice once I discovered how to enable the feature in Entourage. (I had been busily looking for 3rd party apps to do it when, in the end, I didn't need to do that at all.)
There's a mini-application called MyDay to give you a quick synopsis of your day and can sit in the menu bar but it's also quite ugly.
I have no doubt that Microsoft has plenty of designers and they probably put this application through lots of user testing but, to me, it could use an overhaul from top to bottom to help simplify the application and make it fit better with the Mac aesthetic.