September 5, 2014
That’s one of those age-old questions, similar to Coke or Pepsi, American or National League and Ginger or Mary Ann. Two seemingly similar, yet very different options are presented, and you’re either on one side or the other. Both have their pros and cons, and it’s usually a matter of personal choice rather than the quality and there’s no wrong answer.
There are debates galore both online and offline for all these items; the one that concerns us here is the choice of email client. While there are several B-list options available (Thunderbird, Viewer For Gmail, etc.) there really are only two kings of the mountain here, one that is included with the Mac OS, the other part of the most popular third-party software package available for Macs.
The thing that I find especially frustrating about Apple Mail is its tendency to stop working. The most annoying glitch is its inability to send mail, giving you the dreaded “Cannot send message using your mail server,” even though this configuration worked fine in the past. Users with the mail.optimum.net server are particularly prone to this flaw.
The other issue that makes Apple Mail a loser is another random issue; for no reason, it will take mailboxes “offline.” There’s no logical reason why ANYBODY would want his/her mailbox “offline,” so why bother adding that feature?
Also, Apple mail is fussy how accounts are set up; if it is unable to “find” the mail account, it makes it difficult to continue. This is bad when somebody like me is attempting to set up an account when the computer is offline.
On the other hand, Outlook has its fair share of baggage. Its biggest issues are its incompatibility with Apple’s address book (Contacts) and its tendency for the mail database to become bloated, slowing down the application. Also, if the database becomes corrupt (something that happens without warning), it’s not always possible to regain all your email. And although the option is available, attempting to sync your Apple contacts with Outlook’s address book usually ends up in duplicate frustration.
Here’s a short list of pros and cons of each mail client:
- Comes free with all Macs
- Works seamlessly with Apple Contacts
- Similar appearance to iOS Mail
- Simple, clean interface
- Can be “touchy” when adding accounts
- Takes accounts “offline” willy-nilly
- SMTP errors are a nightmare
- Mail files are kept in “hidden” Library
- Easy account setup
- Intuitive message archiving
- Immune to “offline” errors
- Better sorting and display options
- Third-party, so you have to pay for it
- Uses proprietary address book
- Database requires occasional rebuilding
- Importing into Office 365 version flawed