The OS X-native Mailsmith 1.5.3, the new version of Bare Bones Software’s email client, has a smattering of new features that long-time users will appreciate, including improvements in message creation and in importing from other mail programs. For example, Mailsmith now lets you save messages in draft form and view images or movie attachments within the program.
But some important changes haven’t yet arrived, such as support for IMAP, a key email protocol. Nor does Mailsmith support LDAP, a protocol for online address books that is favoured by many large organizations.
At first glance, Mailsmith’s uncluttered interface promises an easy-to-use program. But the interface sometimes makes the program more confusing than it actually needs to be. For example, the text menu contains selections, such as Zap Gremlins and Balance, that mean little to the average user.
Mailsmith makes up for many of its difficulties by offering the powerful Query feature, which lets you search using a number of criteria, with a full array of logical operators (such as AND, OR, and NOT). Like Bare Bones’ BBEdit text editor, Mailsmith understands regular expressions when finding and selecting text using grep, a difficult-to-master but very effective search method. The grep engine has been updated so that it works like grep in the Perl scripting language. Mailsmith’s mail filters, essential tools for managing email and eliminating spam, are very flexible, and also let you use grep.
Mailsmith renders messages as text only, so rendering HTML messages won’t cause delays, as it does with Apple’s Mail or Microsoft’s Entourage X. But if you want to see the HTML version of an email message, you must view it in a Web browser – an irksome step.
Faithful BBEdit users will love the powerful tools Mailsmith gives you for text entry and editing, such as multiple clipboards and undos, keyboard commands for moving and transposing text, and superb support for AppleScript.
Mailsmith 1.5.3’s flexible text-editing and search functionality, as well as its ability to render HTML messages in text-only format, make it an attractive choice. However, the program’s interface oddities – and its lack of support for some standard protocols – may lessen its allure.