In search of the perfect IMAP email client

I’ve been on this quest for quite a while now and I’ve just finished testing out the new release of Mulberry V3.1.2, Becky V2.08.01, The Bat! V2.04.07 and PocoMail V3.03 Build 1740. Unfortunately, none of them passed muster. The one that’s come the closest is Mulberry but even that’s not there yet.

What am I looking for? Well, I thought it was pretty simple:

* excellent IMAP support including SSL
* secure SMTP support (SMTP over SSL or TLS)

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not! As it turns out, “excellent IMAP support” means more than just supporting the protocol. It also means understanding how to work with IMAP’s capabilities. Like what? Like, most of them require me to download ALL messages, headers and body, from the server before I can look at any message. If I’ve got 300 messages on the server I have to download all 300 messages to my machine before I can look at or respond to any of them. What’s the big deal? — I’m on dial-up (not because I wanna be but because I have no other cost-effective option right now). Downloading those messages, especially when I’m gonna delete 90% of them as SPAM, takes forever. That’s one. Another is that those messages take up a lot of space on my hard-drive. I don’t have a lot to spare. And if I wanted them on my hard drive I could use POP3.

Which one came closest to satisfying my IMAP needs? — Mulberry. Why isn’t it my choice? — the UI is really funky! Doesn’t obey typical Windows keyboard shortcuts. And in the current version some of their own funky shortcuts just aren’t working. This is the 2nd time I’ve tried Mulberry and it’s getting better. Hopefully in the next couple of revs they’ll get it right (for me).

PocoMail’s UI is really nice but it’s one of those clients that makes me download the entire message base. Same for The Bat! Sorry guys, no can do. No matter what other features you have, this is a deal breaker.

Becky was pretty good on the IMAP front and has a GREAT message editor but has no support for SSL neither for the IMAP server nor the SMTP server. I won’t do IMAP nor SMTP without SSL. Yeah, I could tunnel it through a pre-established SSL connection but that’s too futzy.

So where does that leave me? I’m still with Thunderbird and PINE with Outlook Express. I’ll keep at looking, though. If you know of any other clients I should check out, leave a comment or drop me an email. But please don’t bother telling me about Outlook — I’ve got it and have some issues with it, too. But that’s for another posting.

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