An Email Client without IMAP?

1 minute read

It’s hard to believe that in this day and age that any email client doesn’t support IMAP. For those of you who already know what IMAP is, you can skip down to the next paragraph. IMAP is a mail protocol, like POP, only more powerful. The POP protocol, while ubiquitous. is very simple. It stores messages on the server in a simple queue that one downloads and deletes from the server one at a time. That mail is then stored locally on your computer, accessible no where but that server. While this may work fine for many people, it’s limitations are impossible to ignore for power users. With IMAP, the messages are stored permanently on the server, including a complete directory structure to file messages. This allows one to access their mail at any time, load only messages you want to see instead of having to download them all, and allows mail providers to place a web interface on your mail.

With all the features of IMAP and its growing popularity, one would think that any modern email clients would support it. This isn’t so. Mailsmith, made by Bare Bones software, completely lacks IMAP support (as well as HTML formatted mail, but honestly, I find formatted mail repugnant anyway). Sure, it sports all kind of neat features like full AppleScriptability, BBEdit-like editing, lots of filtering, etc. but this is a core feature that makes their email client 100% useless to me. Revision after revision is released with full fanfare and the first response by half the tech community is “Where’s the beef (IMAP)?”

To make things worse, this email client costs money. It costs $99. Who in their right mind is going to pay $99 when perhaps the most developed email client, Entourage, is just about the same price (and has IMAP support). In fact, there are many free alternatives such as Apple’s and Mozilla’s Thunderbird. Thunderbird should not be overlooked because it’s beginning to rival (and beat as far as Spam filtering goes) Entourage. Being open source means that it’s developing at an accelerated pace as well.

I love Bare Bones and their text editor, BBEdit, in particular, but Mailsmith is a boneheaded blunder. I have no doubt they’ll rope in a few people, but ultimate success will elude them until they get with the program.