Airmail – the email powerhouse

Airmail is an email powerhouse with a serious set of features to accommodate every possible way of working with email. It is available for both the Mac as well as the iPhone and iPad, which means that you will get a unified experience regardless which platform you use. Continue reading

What’s missing in iOS email apps

After having tried nearly all email apps under the sun and never feeling properly satisfied with the functionality, I have naturally become a bit frustrated by the lack of options. There must surely be an email app available which fulfills my need of making sure that nothing slips between the cracks while waiting for responses. Continue reading

Using the Yesterbox technique to handle email overflow

Yesterbox seems to be an interesting approach for handling large amounts of email.

Instead of going though today’s email which fills up throughout the day and largely ignore the incoming stream of mayhem, focus on handling email from yesterday instead. That way, there is always a finished state, since no new email message can fill up the queue from yesterday.

There are of course times when you really need to reply to an email today, and the model supports this scenario as well. Just get going on the old email and as a “reward”, you may answer important email from today as well.

Two Providers of Secure E-Mail Shut Down

Two major secure e-mail service providers on Thursday took the extraordinary step of shutting down service.

A Texas-based company called Lavabit, which was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, announced its suspension Thursday afternoon, citing concerns about secret government court orders.

By evening, Silent Circle, a Maryland-based firm that counts heads of state among its customers, said it was following Lavabit’s lead and shutting its e-mail service as a protective measure.

The only way to protect your communication is to not trust the service, but instead use something like PGP or pinned X509 certificates to encrypt the contents before it is sent.

Danah Boyd on taking an email sabbatical

An interesting way to approach email while on holiday. Instead of just letting it pile up in the inbox while on vacation, save yourself of the guilt and burden of going through each email by simply deleting it.

The [email] interface is designed to put you on a hamster wheel, rarely ever succeeding at letting you reach empty. You feel accomplished when you get to inbox zero. And then you sleep and it’s all back to haunt you. For this reason, I recommend taking an email sabbatical.

It would perhaps be wise to instead of deleting the email, just direct it to a specific holiday folder, or set it to auto-archive instead. That way, you would still get the same peace of mind, but still have the email for the “in case stuff happen” moments.

Thunderbird: Stability and Community Innovation

Mozilla will cease to develop the Thunderbird email suite any further, except for security updates. While most people are probably using web based email, Thunderbird is one of very few email clients to support TLS client certificates when connecting to email servers.

Rethinking Email

I have been a long-time Gmail user and prefer using their web interface for my personal email, which I love for a number of reasons. For instance, when receiving a new reply to an archived email, the entire conversation is always shown, regardless of where the individual emails are located.

On the professional side of things, I use Apple Mail, which I am sorry to say is starting to get fairly outdated. It does not have the above mentioned feature where email replies are automatically shown together regardless of location. It doesn’t even support using SSL client certificates for connecting to the email server. The latter can fortunately be remedied by using stunnel as a proxy.

Thunderbird

I have used Thunderbird ages ago, so I decided to install the new version and add both my personal and professional email account and see what has happened these last major versions. To my surprise, Thunderbird has been cleaned up considerably and has lots of new features like tabs, smart folders and a unified inbox.

The coolest new feature in Thunderbird 3 has to be the new search interface. It is just a beauty to see the data mining ability and the ease of refining the search terms as you go. There is for instance the possibility to visually drill down on the year, month and day to find just the thing you are looking for.

Thunderbird Search

Thunderbird Search

Then I recalled trying out Postbox a while ago when it was in beta. It is a commercial fork of Thunderbird, with its own unique set of features and looks, and although many Thunderbird plugins work with Postbox, not all do. I ended up giving this some thought.

What can a commercial company do with Thunderbird that the Mozilla foundation can not do themselves?

I decided to yet again give it a go. The installation is as easy as it can be on the Mac — just drag the application to the applications folder and you are done. The account set-up was super easy, with most things detected automatically, and that even includes the work account. Being a Thunderbird derivate, I knew that it would support SSL client certificates, so I just added mine and it worked instantly.

Postbox

Postbox

The interface of Postbox looks a lot like Thunderbird, but there are some not-so-subtle differences too. First of all is the polish — Postbox looks and feels more like a commercial product with its clean interface and modern color palette. The only interface section I liked better in Thunderbird is the main toolbar, which is a lot cleaner. It mostly has to do with Thunderbird having support for showing button labels beside the icons instead of below. That small setting makes all the difference in the world, esthectially speaking.

The first technical thing I noticed was that there is only one folder view — you have your accounts on the top, and the folders (including the inbox), changes below depending on the account you select at the top.

I am not a big fan of unified inboxes, and I had a hard time finding a view I like in Thunderbird (not to mention Apple Mail). Postbox, while only having this single view, get how people work with email. Having personal and professional mail in the same unified inbox just adds to the clutter and distractions we try so hard to get rid of.

Making the accounts completely separate is the perfect recipe for me, and lets me focus on one thing at a time, while not being distracted by Facebook alerts or Twitter messages and other things that may pop up in my personal inbox.

Thunderbird Single message

Thunderbird Single message

The conversation view in Postbox is excellent too. It works exactly like in Gmail, with collapsible replies and a beautiful interface. There is also this thread and message summary to the right of the message which collects all links, photos, files and other types of attachments for easy access.

Postbox for some reason, even has integrated support for posting to Twitter and Facebook. While I would use a dedicated application for this like Tweetdeck or Echofon, I will definitely try it out and see what they have done with it.

A last thing to mention about Postbox is the built-in tagging support. If you would like to tag email with certain action tied to them like “Follow Up”, “Waiting For” or other tags, it is possible to do so without having to resort to putting these emails in separate folders.

Postbox Single message

Postbox Single message

If you are not into sorting incoming email to different project folders, you will definitely enjoy the archive feature, which is available in Thunderbird as well. Pressing “a” will move the selected messages into the archive, which is a regular email folder. The thinking behind this is that since Postbox and Thunderbird index all email, you could just search for what you want.

I am personally fond of having separate folders for different projects and mailing lists. Everything else is put into the generic “archives” folder.

The latest version also features support for Things and Omnifocus, which means that it now is as easy as using Apple Mail to get emails into your GTD in-basket of choice!

If you want to purchase Postbox, please consider using my Postbox referral link. This will save you $10, and you will support this site too!

Getting push email on the iPhone

The iPhone does some really remarkable things and has some amazing features. One feature I really wanted to get working was push email. Not only for the increased battery performance, but for the reason the Blackberry was given the more descriptive name of Crackberry.

I heard that Yahoo provides push mail for the iPhone, so I decided to try it out. Setting it up was very easy, and push actually seems to work – that is if you aren’t forwarding your email. Yahoo Mail doesn’t push mail where the To address doesn’t match, even though the envelope address is correct. The basically means that push works fine if you are only using your Yahoo email address directly, but not if you are forwarding email from somewhere else, like Gmail.

Not being satisfied with the Yahoo solution, I started looking elsewhere. MobileMe started looking better and better, so I finally caved in and signed up for a trial. Email push works excellent so far, but I expect nothing else from Apple. It seems to push email being forwarded from other accounts too!

The one area where MobileMe lacks, and this is a big one, is the support for custom email domains. If you have your fancy personal domain, you of course want to use it for email, but there is no good way of doing thing with MobileMe! Google Apps is currently lightyears ahead of Apple in this department.

The scenario looks like this: I use Google Apps for email, but a filter in Gmail forwards the email to MobileMe and marks it as read in Gmail. MobileMe then pushes this to my iPhone, and when I reply, I just choose the Google account as the sender. This requires that you enable both email accounts in your iPhone. That is why I mark the email as read in the filter – otherwise it would eventually be seen by the Mail app in the iPhone as an unread email.

This is a bit awkward, I know, but the only real alternative is setting up your own Exchange server. (or waiting for Google to get their act together and supporting push for the iPhone)

Address Book on Mac shows the wrong certificate

I recently wanted to email a recipient, for which I had the certificate. The problem was however, that he has an old certificate which has expired, and a new valid one. For some reason though, Address Book associates the old certificate with the email address instead of the new one.

Inspect Certificate

Inspect Certificate in Adress Book

I still haven’t found a way to associate the new certificate with the user.

Postbox public beta available

postbox-iconI recently wrote about Postbox, a new email client. It was then a private beta, but a public beta has now been released. Grab it now at postbox-inc.com.

Postbox brings innovative new features to easily find pictures and other files, but also how to get things done.

I still use Apple Mail and Gmail for daily email handling, but I will definitely try Postbox again now that a new version has been released.