Introduction - Take Control of Apple Mail (1.0) (2014)

Take Control of Apple Mail (1.0) (2014)


If Apple Mail is your email client of choice under OS X 10.9 Mavericks or iOS 7, as it is for me, this book will help you get more out of it. You’ll understand the app better, learn useful tricks and techniques, and even become a more effective correspondent. I hope and expect that by the time you finish this book, you’ll be a much happier Mail user than when you started.

I say this to start on a positive note, because it turns out that lots of Mail users are rather unhappy right now, particularly on the Mac. Since the release of Mavericks, I’ve heard a great many complaints about Apple Mail. By and large, what these unhappy people want to know isn’t how to do simple things like send a message or save an attachment. They’re mostly wondering how to avoid, fix, or work around the rather astonishing number of problems in Mail.

The day before this book was scheduled for publication, Apple released OS X 10.9.2, which fixed a number of the most serious bugs in Mail. I was delighted that I could remove several criticisms from this book. (If you haven’t yet updated to 10.9.2, you can do so by choosing Apple  > Software Update—and I recommend updating right away!) Although I haven’t yet had time for comprehensive testing of the new version, my initial impression is that it’s much better than before, although not without a few lingering issues that are sure to frustrate some users.

As much as I’d like to, I can’t offer solutions to all of Mail’s problems. However, I can at least identify the major trouble spots, which may enable you to avoid them. I can guide you to fixes when they do exist. And I can tell you what I’ve done to make Mail work for me as well as it can under the circumstances. (Of course, this book isn’t only about dealing with Mail problems. Far from it; I also help you get more out of Mail, enhance your email workflow, and much more.)

In the early days of Mavericks, when Mail was truly awful, people asked me why I didn’t just switch to another Mac email client. Believe me, I thought about it, and I tried quite a few alternatives. The thing is, even at its worst, I still liked Apple Mail the best. Given the way I’ve customized my settings, and the third-party plug-ins I’ve added, I haven’t found another app that gives me all the capabilities I’ve come to depend on in Mail. It’s like that favorite pair of jeans that you still wear despite the odd tear or stain. And, now that Apple has corrected many of its shortcomings, I like it even better.

As for the iOS 7 version of Mail, the story is even more encouraging. Mail under iOS 7, while not perfect, is remarkably good—albeit significantly different from its predecessor. The biggest issue with iOS Mail is that it still lacks many of the useful features found in the OS X version, which means iOS 7 users will need to develop a strategy that takes those differences into account.

Regardless of whether you use Mavericks, iOS 7, or both, this book is about how to do useful things with Mail—how to bend Mail to your will (to the extent possible) and feel as though you are genuinely in control of your email. Along the way, I’ll show you how to do more with the parts of Mail that work, and I’ll identify and tell you how to deal with as many problems as I can. But I’ll largely ignore basic tasks that you either know how to do already or can figure out easily by consulting the Help menu. This isn’t a comprehensive reference guide; instead, I’m assuming you already know your way around an email client and mainly want guidance with less-than-obvious tasks and features.

Several chapters are apply equally to Mail in Mavericks and iOS 7, but most of the book focuses on the Mavericks version of Mail, which is only right, since it has far more features (and problems) than the iOS version. The final chapter, Use Mail in iOS 7, covers the differences between the two platforms as well as the special strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies in the iOS 7 version of Mail.