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.)
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.)
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.