When it comes to the web versus a client, I prefer to get my email in a mail client, I’ve done it on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and there are many advantages to it. Mac comes with a simple, yet powerful mail client called Mail (also referred to as Mac Mail and Mail.app). One of things that always bugged me about Mail compared to other mail clients, like Thunderbird, is the lack of a better message opening feature. Normally in Mail, double clicking on a message or RSS story would open up a whole dedicated window to the message, which clutters up the screen. Compare that to clients like Thunderbird, which can bring up a whole new tab for the message without cluttering up the screen. How do you fix that? You can switch to another client, or use MailTabs for Mail instead.
MailTabs is a Mail.app plugin for your Mac that adds tabs within Mail itself. Now when you go to compose a new message, check an article in your RSS feed in Mail, or want to read a message in a larger screen, it will open it in a brand new tab rather than a pop up window. I find this especially helpful for staying focused, but it can also be useful on Macs with small screens, like the Air and for minimalists.
I’ve been using MailTabs for a while now, but with the most recent update, I felt it was now a much stronger candidate for use. In previous versions, MailTabs looked like it had been grafted on, rather than a natural part of Mail. Furthermore, upon sending a message, the whole Mail window would disappear momentarily, then return to send the message. With this latest update (see the image above), it now looks natural in Mail, and sending messages doesn’t cause Mail to vanish from the screen. It also plays nicer with other Mail plugins, specifically Letterbox, MailHub, and MessageFont and has a preference pane in Mail’s preferences.
This is a beta program, so it may not be free forever, and there are bugs in the plugin, e.g. Mail tabs will remain the default gray color whether or not the Mail window is active, making it look awkward. There are a few things in the works right now, such as allowing you to pull off tabs from the window (in case you do want a new window), and the developer is working on an update for Lion. Also, since this is a Mail plugin, any updates to Mail or Snow Leopard may cause the plugin to be disabled. However, version 0.6 brings some great improvements to the plugin, which extends to Mail itself. UPDATE: The developer has informed me that if Mailtabs is disabled by an update, you can easily reenable the plugin by just reinstalling it.
This is a free download at http://simplicity.fm/mailtabs/. If you like MailTabs, I recommend you donate to the developer; the donate button happens to be right next to the download button, you really can’t miss it. You can also subscribe to the developer’s Facebook page for more news and advice about the plugin.
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