MiniMail 1.0.1

Apple’s Mail email client includes a useful feature that shows the number of unread messages in its Dock icon, so even if Mail isn’t the active application, you can see if there’s anything waiting to be read. But one feature I like in Microsoft’s Entourage is a small, floating window that displays a (very) short summary of each new message that arrives while Entourage is in the background; click on a message preview and the full message will be opened.

If you’d like something similar for Mail, check out OliveToast’s MiniMail 1.0.1 (   ; $9). Once you install MiniMail, clicking the green “resize” button in Mail’s main window works much as it does in iTunes, shrinking the window down to a much smaller version that still offers useful functionality. (To get the standard resize action, just hold down the shift key as you click the green button.)

This mini Mail window—or MiniMail window, if you prefer—offers a quick way to keep track of new email messages (or, more accurately, unread messages). The top of the window displays the number of new messages and which one you’re currently viewing. The main area of the window shows a preview of that message along with the subject and sender; you can resize the window to view more or less of each message body. Clicking the left or right arrow displays the previous or next unread message, respectively. Double-click on any message preview to open that message (either in a new message window or in the main Mail window, depending on your preferences).

But you can also perform actions on messages right in the MiniMail window via the Action menu—open, reply, reply all, forward, redirect, bounce, mark as junk, mark as read, flag, or delete. And Check Mail and New Message buttons let you check for new email and create a new message, respectively, without having to view the main Mail window. (You can use Mail’s standard keyboard shortcuts in the MiniMail window, as well.)

Among MiniMail’s preferences—found in a new screen in Mail’s own preferences window—are options for choosing which (or all) mailboxes to monitor for new email; when messages are marked as read (and therefore no longer appear in the MiniMail window); and whether or not the MiniMail window floats above windows of other applications.

One issue I had with MiniMail is that after installing it, after opening Mail’s preferences window I couldn’t close that window; if I didn’t want to live with it open, I had to quit and relaunch Mail. I also wish MiniMail had a preference to display only messages received since I last viewed the full Mail window, instead of all unread messages. Still, I’ve found MiniMail to be a great add-on for email addicts who need (or just want) to keep an eye on incoming mail.

(If you ever want to uninstall MiniMail, just quit Mail, open ~/Library/Mail/Bundles, delete MiniMail.mailbundle, and then relaunch Mail.)

MiniMail 1.0.1 requires Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.1 or later.

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