Sad Switch from Thunderbird to Entourage

I use two email clients regularly – one for my normal email accounts, and one for my work email because it goes through SSH port forwarding and receives tons of messages. It is a pain to have the two email setups set up in the same email client.

I use Mac OS X machines at home, and I really like Apple’s Mail.app. I use it for my normal email accounts. The UI is superb, it’s fast, stable, and has excellent junk mail filtering.

For accessing my work email account from home on Mac OS X, I have been using Thunderbird. I use Thunderbird extensively at work on Linux and it works great. However, using Thunderbird at home on Mac OS X has been surprisingly displeasing. The UI is somewhat flakey and unpolished, it’s slow, and it doesn’t look or behave in a convincinly native way. Most irritatingly, keyboard navigation of email lists is really quirky – sometimes hitting buttons doesn’t work and using key modifiers doesn’t have dependable results. Also, the UI doesn’t always update correctly – sometimes I select an email and the display pane just goes blank or stays on the previously selected email. Because of this, I have switched to using Microsoft Office’s Entourage email client for accessing my work email from home. I almost hate to say it, but its been a very pleasant switching experience. MS did a pretty good job on Entourage (though it’s no Mail.app).

Thunderbird on Linux and (from what I hear) Windows rocks, but it really needs some work on Mac OS X. I’d love to fix my problems with Thunderbird on Mac OS X, but I just don’t have the time. There is a lot of potential there though, and I have no doubt it will be realized sooner or later.

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13 thoughts on “Sad Switch from Thunderbird to Entourage

  1. Incidentally, what type of email account and connection were you using with Thunderbird? Back when I used POP I don’t remember having any problems, but IMAP’s felt somewhat odd the whole time (although I have confirmed my mail server’s at least partly to blame). I’ve had some of the problems you mention, although not on a Mac — I run either Linux or Windows, although I hope to get a Mac sometime.

  2. So what’s new? Camino is the only Mozilla product I’ve used that doesn’t put out a half-assed Mac version. Firefox is another good example.

  3. It would work – but at work I’m subscribed to tons of big mailing lists, and in general the way I use my work email is much different from the way I use my personal email. I just like having them entirely separate, in different clients. That way I can have everything set up exactly the way I want for work without ever needing to indicate what I prefer for an outgoing account when I send email, a signature, stuff like that. Also, the volume of email I get at work is so large that I don’t want my mail client to chug away working on it when I’m just checking my personal email.

  4. Interesting. My first thought, if I was in that situation, would be to have two separate user accounts on my home Mac. One for work and one for home. Then, using fast user switching, I could be logged in to both accounts at the same time, and each one could be running its own instance of Mail.app. This would also be beneficial as it would help to further compartmentalize work and home. The downside is that it would take an extra step to switch in between work and home environments… you wouldn’t be able to have both mail apps on screen simultaneously, or drag and drop between environments… but this could be a good thing… depending on how you look at it. 🙂

  5. I use Thunderbird on OS X, and your criticisms are very sound indeed. The only reason I don’t use Mail.app is because certain parts of the UI are awful for how I use my mail. The lack of support for IMAP folder subscriptions, the apparent inability to alert me if mail arrives in a folder other than inbox (I have an extensive series of procmail rules to filter mail on the server side), and the totally barmy use of a drawer for the mailbox list (which I believe may be gone in the new version to ship with Tiger) add up to something pretty much unusable for me.

    Unfortunately, Thunderbird’s many slownesses, hangs, crashes, interface quirks and other unpleasantnesses don’t leave me very happy either. Maybe I should try Entourage too!

  6. This is interesting to me, because I’ve recently been setting up my wife with an IMAP account from Fastmail. She has been using Entourage 2004 with her Comcast POP account, so I thought I’d just add the Fastmail account to Entourage. The problem we’re seeing (only on one of our computers) is that Entourage 2004 sometimes duplicates messages in the inbox. Not all of them are always duplicated, and the duplicates cannot be deleted. Logging into Fastmail’s webmail system shows that the duplicates do not actually exist on the server. They only exist within that copy of Entourage. Sometimes using the “repair message list” function in Entourage fixes it. Other times I’ve had to combine that with clearing the caches within Entourage. I’ve seen reports of other people experiencing this as well.

    I use Mail.app for my IMAP account without any problems. So far my wife hasn’t seen any issues with Thunderbird either, but perhaps she hasn’t used it long enough yet.

  7. What’s funny, Josh, is that I thought you were going to announce “Correo”, the new Mozilla Mac email client (it means “mail” in spanish). Camino and Correo would make a great couple… 😉

    I agree with Peter regarding Fast User Switching. That may be the best way to fix your problem. Alternatively, isn’t there a way to use remote desktop (or similar software) to connect to another user on your local machine? That would be another solution, one which wouldn’t limit you to one mailbox at a time.

  8. Just as a sidenote: Eudora allows it to have several email folders within one account – I use it to have a working set of my emails and a fully separate archive which I update every week. Works great and I’m a huge Eudora fan – it’s fast and stable, has close to all features I need (S/MIME might be on the way – hopefully) only the UI needs some work.

    I’m using Mozilla for encrypted mails and I agree that it sucks under OSX somehow – I guess this is similar to Thunderbird.

  9. The problem with fast user switching is that I have to switch, which is slow. I want all my stuff in one environment, with drag-drop with my normal files available.

    The problem with a remote session is no matter how slow a local app gets, its probably not slower than running a remote X session from work over my cable connection. I’ve tried it 🙂

  10. Josh, I guess that means you’ll have to convince Pink to start Correo. I’ll be a documenter, bug-tester, etc. It’s just finding, you know, programmers… Minor details, if you ask me. 😉

  11. Well Josh, I’m not sure if you’ve solved this yet, but I ran across the solution to your problem today; hopefully you’ll read this.

    Ever want to run two copies of an app at once? Maybe to try a site out with two sets of preferences at once? A.P. Lawrence tells you how. Run multiple instances of Mail at once.

    http://www.aplawrence.com/MacOSX/twosafaris.html

    I hope this helps! (IM me for more info if needed, samsidler on AIM.)

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