The OS Xnative Mailsmith 1.5.3, the new version of Bare Bones Software’s e-mail client, has a smattering of new features that longtime users will appreciate, including improvements in message creation and in importing from other mail programs. For example, Mailsmith now lets you save messages in draft form and view images or movie attachments within the program.
But some important changes haven’t yet arrived, such as support for IMAP, a key e-mail protocol. Nor does Mailsmith support LDAP, a protocol for online address books that is favored by many large organizations.
Powerful but Not Always Clear
At first glance, Mailsmith’s uncluttered interface promises an easy-to-use program. But the interface sometimes makes the program more confusing than it needs to be. For example, the text menu contains selections, such as Zap Gremlins and Balance, that mean little to the average user.
Mailsmith makes up for many of its difficulties by offering the powerful Query feature, which lets you search using a number of criteria, with a full array of logical operators (such as AND, OR, and NOT). Like Bare Bones’ BBEdit text editor, Mailsmith lets you use regular expressions to find and select your text using grep, a difficult-to-master but very effective search method. The grep engine has been updated so that it works like grep in the Perl scripting language. Mailsmith’s mail filters, essential tools for managing e-mail and eliminating spam, are very flexible and also let you use grep.
Pure Text, No Waiting
Mailsmith renders messages as text only, so rendering HTML messages won’t cause delays, as it does with Apple’s Mail or Microsoft’s Entourage X. But if you want to see the HTML version of an e-mail message, you must view it in your Web browser–an irksome step.
If you’re a faithful BBEdit user, you’ll love the powerful tools Mailsmith gives you for text entry and editing, such as multiple clipboards and undos, keyboard commands for moving and transposing text, and superb support for AppleScript.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Mailsmith 1.5.3’s flexible text-editing and search functionality, as well as its ability to render HTML messages in text-only format, make it an attractive choice. However, the program’s interface oddities–and its lack of support for some standard protocols–may lessen its allure. l