Software I Use: Postbox

Recently I have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to manage my email. It was during this process that I got my first private beta copy of Postbox. At the time I was think of moving to either outlook or web based for my mail, so I didn’t give it a fair shake. I setup a few accounts to try it but that was about it. it wasn’t till I needed to find a file sent to me from a client that I started playing with the features that make Postbox shine. I was quickly hooked. So now lets look at what Postbox does.

Postbox is based on Mozilla Thunderbird, an open source mail client made by the same people who do Firefox. Thunderbird has been my email client of choice since it was in early beta. My biggest complaint has always been that it didn’t see enough attention. To be fair to Mozilla the spun Thunderbird development off into a new organization Mail Corp to help with this problem, unfortunately I’m still waiting to see an improvement. So now we have Postbox, with all the features of Thunderbird but with a dedicated team of developers, a great combination.

Here are some of the features that promoted the switch:

Tabbed interface: Messages and mailboxes can be opened in tabs, not just the main window of the application.  A feature that has been implemented in all the browsers but still lacking in most email clients. To be fair though, Eudora had this ability years ago.

Tags/Topics: Tagging is in Thunderbird, but it always seemed to be half-backed to me. Postbox brings it front and centre removing the need to use folders for storing your mail, if only it would share it’s tags with Gmail or between to installations of Postbox then they would be perfect.

Todo Message: Being able to mark your messages as TODO and have them appear at the top of your mail box, is a great way to prevent that important task from falling through the cracks.

Searching: Both the Global Search and Saved Searches are improved over thunderbirds, making it easier to use with multiple accounts.

Attachment, Image and Links View: So often when you are searching through your mail its not the message you are looking for it’s the attachment. Having a quick way to see all attachments in a mailbox is great. It’s quickly becoming one of the most used features for me.

New Message Side Panel

What’s missing

I would love to see support for extensions like Thunderbird has. I think opening it up for third party developers could add some interesting features.

Though the To-do feature is innovative and a great way to highlight things you have to do, sometime things are date sensitive. Either they need to be done by a certain day or they don’t matter until a certain date. This is why Postbox needs a Calendar.

For me the biggest missing piece is working with Multiple accounts on different computers. I need to be able to check my mail form 2 or 3 different computers and I Would like it if they could all recognize the same Topics. The information is stored in the IMAP mailbox, its just hard to keep them synced between Postbox installs.

Over all Postbox is a great email client. There are some rough edges, after all its still beta. It will be interesting to see how it develops. Most importantly what revenue model they use to support it’s development.

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