The Mail software that comes with your Mac is more powerful than you think
Welcome to the second installment of Pointers, a weekly column that offers tips and tricks for getting more out of your Mac or iOS device. Check back each Thursday for a new useful technique designed to demystify, declutter or de-stress you -- and hopefully add some delight as well. This week's Pointers tutorial is a set of 10 (count 'em!) Apple Mail tips that are little-known, little-used, and presented for your inspection in no specific order. You'll find that almost every element of almost every tip works in OS X Mail from as far back as OS X Leopard, but we used OS X Yosemite for the latest little extras.
Wi-Fi, VoiceOver, Mail, general system compatibility are focus areas
On Wednesday, Apple released a new build of the forthcoming 10.10.2 maintenance update to developers and testers. The new version, 14C94b, indicates few new binaries since the previous developer build (14C81f) issued nearly a month ago, and could hint that the patch update is nearing release. Testers are again asked to focus on Wi-Fi, Mail, and VoiceOver, the latter two areas of which were added in the last developer build. Apple has also released the build for previously-signed up public beta testers.
Apple Support Community members' exhaustive testing rules out 1Password as cause
On November 1, a thread was started on the Apple Support Community regarding an intermittent and troublesome lag when using Apple's Mail, the default email program, in Yosemite. User 'Andrew-StL' kicked off the discussion, reporting the issue while composing messages after updating from Mavericks to the then newly-released Yosemite, noting that the lag was not experienced while entering text in any other application.
Mailbird e-mail client now offers speed reading feature
PC email client Mailbird has introduced a new time-saving feature to its service. Its speed-reading option allows users to read their emails in a format that, much like other speed-reading apps, involves a technique that flashes words one at a time on the screen; this promotes faster reading than if one is moving their eyes across the page. The new tool can be activated by selecting the glasses icon at the top of any email message within Mailbird, and the rate of the words can be adjusted from 100-1,000 words per minute. Offered in three tiers, Mailbird services are available in Lite (free), Pro ($1 per month) and Business ($9 per user per year) variations.
Fixes issues with Gmail, Exchange, unread counts and more
A new report by TidBITS' Joe Kissell, author of the forthcoming Take Control of Apple Mail, says that Tuesday's release of OS X 10.9.2 makes great strides towards fixing the known issues with the rewritten version of Mail crafted for OS X Mavericks. As reported earlier, Apple released the update earlier today to address a number of issues, including a serious SSL vulnerability, as well as add FaceTime Audio calling and a new version of Safari among other changes.
Yahoo Mail issue claimed to be harder to fix than initially believed
Yahoo has acknowledged that a number of users were not able to access Yahoo Mail for part of this week, with the company apologizing for the outage on the official blog. The mail downtime commenced on Monday, with the company claiming to have fixed the issue for the majority of affected users last night, though support teams are apparently still working on some loose ends.
Domestic shipments, UPS, Fedex unaffected
Effective May 16, the United States Postal Service (USPS) regulation prohibits shipping any electronic device with a lithium battery from being mailed to a destination outside the United States. The ban does not apply to private carriers such as DHL, FedEx, and UPS. The ban is in response to improperly packed lithium batteries being involved in two plane crashes since 2006, including a UPS jet in Dubai that caught fire and crashed moments after takeoff.
Selective notifications in, RSS feeds out
Apple will be making a few tweaks to Mail, its default e-mail program, in this summer's Mountain Lion release. One big change will be to allow users to designate important people as "VIPs" and be able to make rules letting Mail notify users only when mail from a VIP arrives. The program will also feature an inline "find," and is removing RSS reading and management from Mail, MacWorld reports.
Macs to gain MMS-esque texting ability?
An error message in the Lion version of Mail may have revealed a heretofore undisclosed new feature in Mac OS X Lion modelled after the iMessage feature coming to iOS devices with the release of iOS 5. The Spanish-language site Macquecitos reported that a reader had seen a dialog box advising the user to update a Mail plug-in to a version that was "compatible with Mail 5.0 and Message 5.0."
Resume may close unused apps
A variety of less publicized changes have been made in Mac OS X Lion, the developer preview shows. One of the most important is an overhauled Finder, sporting new buttons and a different sidebar. The file browser automatically sorts items by type, and is also described as more responsive.
Deeper app changes a mystery
Apple is making at least minor changes to Mail and iCal with Mac OS X Lion, a closer look at current press material is said to show. iCal, AppleInsider notes, is gaining a Year view, in addition to present Day, Week and Month options. Look and layout is now also closer to the iPad's Calendar app, and buttons for flipping pages have been moved away from the view commands to the upper right-hand corner.
Gmail, growl support, support soon other IMAP apps
Independent developers DINH Vięt Hoŕ and Dominique Leca have launched a new email application, Sparrow for Mac. Currently in beta, the software provides a minimalist presentation with threaded conversation support. It also provides Growl notifications and uses a status bar icon for quick access. Users can get a quick overview of their mail in the preview window, can open a new window for a specific item or open the full window to see both at once.
Guide claims multiplied speed in Photoshop
diglloyd has posted a guide to enhancing performance in Photoshop CS5, Adobe's just-released imaging software. The software is said to behave better simply as a result of switching to 64-bit code, but adding extra RAM may make major improvements in some cases, along with properly tweaking cache tile size. It may also be more efficient to leave the program running so it doesn't have to re-allocate memory, the guide suggests.
No iPad sales at AT&T stores?
Several minor details of Apple plans have emerged through e-mail responses sent by CEO Steve Jobs. In regards to where the iPad will be sold in the US, for example, Jobs confirms that the only places to buy it will initially be limited to Best Buy and Apple's online and retail stores. Other authorized resellers are being kept out of the loop, including even AT&T, which is the official carrier for the iPad 3G. Owners will instead have to sign up for 3G access via their device.
Public update imminent?
Apple is seeding a new test build of Mac OS X 10.6.3 to developers, 10D552. The code is said to continue many of the troubleshooting efforts taken with the last two builds, correcting problems with AirPort, OpenGL, graphics drivers and QuickTime X, while improving the performance of 64-bit Logic. Also fixed are some compatibility and reliability issues with third-party printers, and a glitch which causes background message colors to behave badly in Mail.
Adds speed, better filters
Central Atomics has released the first version of Rocketbox, a supplemental tool for Apple's Mail software. It attempts to make Mail search more efficient, for instance by using its own faster engine, and adding the ability to search by person. Important people are identified through a scan of earlier messages.
100 new Mail templates, five iWeb themes
Jumsoft has released Mail Stationery 3.0, delivering over 100 new stationery templates for use in Apple’s Mail client. Within the collection are two new design sets, Ink Sense and Cardboard Gallery. There are seven different categories, such as greetings, invitations and newsletters; the greetings category includes a bonus holiday pack with 10 templates. Most of the templates throughout the bundle offer multiple color schemes or design variations.
New version adds four AppleScript commands
Mac-Chi has launched an update to its contact utility, WhoPaste. The utility can extract contact information from clipboard contents, with support for the primary contacts utilities for Mac: Apple's Mail, Google's Contacts, Marketcircle's Daylight and Microsoft's Entourage. It supports plain text, rich text and spreadsheet data, with quick access via a hotkey. WhoPaste can designate a new contact's category, priority, and tagline, as well as an organization's category, industry, region, tagline, and type. A list of keywords are assigned to either a contact or organization.
Also corrects litany of lesser-known bugs
Apple has at last released Mac OS X 10.6.2, a key update to Snow Leopard. The patch addresses a variety of technical problems, most notably one which would permanently delete data when logging into a main account after having just used a guest one. The bug has been known since at least early October. Other resolved account problems include unexpected logouts, and difficulty authenticating as an administrator.
Converts standard Outlook e-mails
restoroot.com has released an upgraded edition of its winmail.dat conversion plug-in for Mail, Letter Opener 3. Winmail objects are automatically converted into attachments, vCards and iCal files, allowing proper interaction with Outlook messages. Version 3 features a complete rewrite for Snow Leopard compatibility, as well as a number of small functionality improvements.
EasyBatch, Stationery Pack
iWeb SEO Tool 1.5 (free) is a utility that can optimize a user's iWeb created website for search engines. iWeb SEO Tool allows users to add page title tags, meta tags and alternative image text without having to mess with the base HTML code. Version 1.5 now allows users to add Google Analytics, Statscounter, or other analytical code to iWeb projects and includes an updated user manual. Improvements have also been made to MobileMe and FTP uploading. [Download - 11.6MB]
Jumsoft ships Mail designs
Jumsoft has released 100 new templates as a part of its Mail Stationary collection for Apple's e-mail client. The addition brings the number of basic templates up to 200. Many of the templates are available in different color schemes, resulting in a total of 550 possible layouts.
iClip Lyrics, Countdown
PopChar X 4.2 ($40) allows users to add special characters into application documents without the need to remember a keystroke combination. The update includes a new menu command that allows a user to mark all fonts that contain a desired character and then jump directly to the marked character in a favored font. Version 4.2 also includes several fixes, including one that cause PopChar to forget its license information when preferences were synced with MobileMe. [Download - 1.8MB]
Encrypt Mail, Size Up
iSubtitle 1.2 ($19) is a tool that adds non-destructive subtitles to movies on the iPhone/iPod touch and Apple TV. The software enables people to use the interface of the device or application to turn on or off subtitles synced in real-time, and to watch the subtitled movies in full screen. Version 1.2 allows users to add chapters to videos automatically or manually. The update also includes options for changing the size of subtitles and fixes several bugs. [Download - 6.1MB]
PDFClerk Pro 3.7 ($45) provides tools for performing a larger number of manipulations to existing PDF documents, as well as allowing the creation of PDF documents from non PDF files. Version 3.7 fixes a number of bugs, and adds other enhancements such as mixed editing of static and dynamic annotations and control over tab order of form fields. [Download - 7MB]
Mail-Grab 1.0 launched
Urban Design has launched Mail-Grab 1.0, a new batch e-mailing application that works with Mail. Mail-Grab extracts e-mail addresses from Apple's software, removing duplicates and applying user-determined filters to target a group for mass e-mailing. Once a message is written, Mail-Grab feeds back into Mail to generate and deliver output to each address. Mail-Grab also supports saving messages, printing them, and exporting to other applications.
Valentine's Day templates
iPresentee has launched a Valentine's Day Mail Stationary package, the latest addition to its line of templates meant for Apple's Mail software. The new Valentine's Day collection comes complete with 16 different templates. When downloading the artwork, an installer is provided to make sure the templates are stored in the right folder and automatically displayed in the Apple Mail New Message Stationary menu.
Intic Lock, GarageSale
PDF Merge 2.4 ($14) ) allows users to merge several PDF files into one. Users can drag the files they want to merge to the application and order them to their needs. Version 2.4 includes a new icon and several performance enhancements that increase execution speed. [Download - 0.74MB]
Apple Mail update
Apple has released an update to its Mail app that addresses several stability issues. The problems revolved around the recent change to Mac OS X 10.5.6 which had caused Mail to unexpectedly quit for many users. The release should be installed if the OS update did not properly install the "3.5 (930.3)" version of Mail.app. Users can check the exact build by opening Mail and choosing "About Mail" from the menu.
Mac OS X 10.5.6 update
As anticipated last week, Apple has posted its latest update to Mac OS X, v10.5.6. Available through the Software Update service or direct download, the patch consists mostly of dozens of fixes and performance enhancements, for issues such as sync and graphics. Sync reliability has been improved for Address Book, portable home directories and most notably MobileMe, which should now propagate contact, calendar and bookmark changes within a minute of their being saved.
Pastebud iPhone service
Copy and paste will finally arrive for the iPhone Friday, at least in a limited form of copy and paste between Safari and Mail, reports say. Pastebud is a new web-based service which uses a bookmarking system to replicate copy and paste, detouring the App Store by not installing anything. Two Safari bookmarks serve as copy and paste modules, allowing for selection of text and pasting into Mail or another webpage.
CTM Development has released PowerMail 6.0, the latest version of its application for searching and managing e-mail. Users can now sync with MobileMe or take advantage of full coexistence with iPhone mail. The release adds a self-updating function, batch importing for Apple Mail databases and addresses, and the ability to match and merge imported folders into existing folders.
Sync 'Em 1.15 patch
Derman Enterprises has posted an update to its Sync 'Em, its Mac-based synchronization application. The program attempts to keep contact and calendar data consistent between multiple apps and user accounts; it does this by linking information from Exchange and Google with Mail, iCal and Address Book. The exact data shared varies however, as Sync 'Em does not yet, for example, support Google Calendar.
MobileMe, T. Machine fixes
The next version of Mac OS X, v10.5.6, should address problems in MobileMe, Time Machine and Mail, a note to developers suggests. Supplied with the latest seed of v10.5.6, build 9G35, the note asks for help in testing automatic syncing with MobileMe, particularly in regards to performance on notebooks, and on networks with high lag or limited bandwidth. The aim is to have changes propagated from me.com to other devices in a "reasonable amount of time," and improve syncing performance in general. Apple asks for special attention to the possibility of excessive or abnormal syncs.
Mail Act On 2 update
Indev Software has released the latest version of its Apple Mail organization tool, Mail Act-On 2. The update offers a faster interface, with an option to lock the window open to allow multiple rules to be applied successively. Users can retrace their steps with a new undo function. Keystrokes can be used to perform actions on messages with the enhanced interface or by using control key combinations, which is claimed to allow the management functions without a mouse. The outbox now supports rules to organize sent messages.
Aviv Raff on iPhone bugs
Apple has been neglectful in addressing a pair of bugs in the iPhone's operating system, an Israeli researcher claims. Aviv Raff explains that as early as July he warned Apple about problems in Mail and Safari, each representing a possible security threat. Although three separate firmware updates have since been released for the iPhone 3G, Raff notes that Apple has not bothered to address his concerns, even after continual pressure for a timetable.
StuffIt Deluxe 2009 ships
Smith Micro says it has released StuffIt Deluxe 2009, an upgraded version of its popular compression program. The 2009 edition adds a variety of features, most notably support for more recent Apple technologies. These include Time Machine and Quick Look, the latter of which lets users examine an archive within Finder and other supporting applications, such as Mail.
Mac OS X 10.5.5 update
Apple is now distributing the latest upgrade to Mac OS X, v10.5.5, through Software Update. The patch addresses a considerable number of aspects in the operating system, such as Mail, MobileMe and Address Book, as well as some "general" concerns, according to Apple's support notes. Some of these include Spotlight indexing, the reliability of iPhone sync with both iCal and Address Book, and problems with Macs powering on involuntarily at the same time every day. The update is sized anywhere between 136 and 353MB, depending on the number of minor patches already installed.
New Mac OS X 10.5.5 builds
Two new builds of Mac OS X 10.5.5 have been seeded to developers within the past week, accounts say. The first, 9F25, allegedly contained no significant changes, while the second has addressed only two issues, potentially signifying a wind-down to the update's production. Fixes in 9F29 include a remedy to a problem with Macs and previously-joined AirPort networks, and another described only as relating to a graphics framework. A single known bug remains, one which interferes with searching through messages in Mail.
Outspring has announced that it is discontinuing its QuickMail email client and server line. The company has suspended all sales and phone support for QuickMail, although customers who purchased QuickMail products in the last 90 days will still be entitled to another 90 days of telephone support. Prior customers can still find peer-to-peer support in Outspring's support forum as well. Final versions of the server and client versions have been released, the company noted: QuickMail server has been updated with compatibility fixes and has also been locked to not operate on systems above Mac OS X 10.4.
Mail server adds filtering
Post.Office, a scalable SMTP/POP3/IMAP email server, has been updated to version 3.8.4, with numerous security and spam-fighting upgrades. The 3.8.4 update has also added Mac OS X Leopard support. The update includes an upgraded spam filter, which can now be imported, exported and disabled, and adds open-source plug-in support for additional filtering abilities. The spam filter's SpamAssassin spam detector and ClamAV virus scanner have been updated as well. SpamAssassin has new filtering rules and update capabilities, while ClamAV can now receive automatic bi-weekly virus updates.
iPhone open to Phishing?
Security researcher Aviv Raff says the iPhone versions of Mail and Safari are vulnerable to URL spoofing, an exploit that could open the door to phishing attacks. Raff says hackers can e-mail specially-designed URL that links to a site that appears to be legitimate. A user might think it is a trusted site like Pay Pal -- but instead the bogus site steals passwords and other information when the user tries to log on. The maliciously crafted URL is (erroneously) recognized by Safari as a "trusted site."
Jumsoft: Mail Stationery
Mac OS X 10.5 users can choose from 50 new stationery templates for Leopard's built-in Mail application. Jumsoft has released its Mail Stationery pack including "designs for "every occasion". Grouped by themes such as "invitations," "seasons," "family," and "congratulations," the professionally-designed templates add the personal touch that sems to have disappeared with the switch from paper to electronic mail.
dotMac down MobileMe up
Apple has officially announced its launch of MobileMe – the service it intends to replace its platform-specific .Mac – by setting the launch date at midnight July 10th (Pacific), following a short downtime from 6PM PT the preceding day, July 9th. The note, posted in the .Mac service bulletin, informs users that while the update will cause users to lose access to almost all operations, they will be able to access their email through a desktop application, or an iPhone/iPod touch.
Quiet Snow Leopard changes
A number of important changes are being brought to Mac OS X Snow Leopard that have not been well-publicized, a new report notes. Even though Apple has described the forthcoming operating system as an attempt to refine Leopard rather than make dramatic changes, it should for instance introduce a comprehensive multi-touch framework, which will help developers implement commands currently coded exclusively by Apple.
SpamSieve 2.7 update
C-Command has released a new version of SpamSieve, a spam-filtering tool for Macs that relies on Bayesian algorithms. The software integrates with multiple e-mail clients, and evolves to more accurately block unwanted messages. It can decode messages intended to bypass filters, and incorporates both black- and whitelists, the latter of which can be compiled from Address Book, Eudora or Entourage in order to ensure common contacts are never blocked.
First Look: Antispam
Nobody likes spam clogging their e-mail accounts. Although nearly every e-mail program comes with its own spam filters, a dedicated spam filter can often work more effectively while giving you greater control. If spam is overwhelming your current e-mail program, consider Intego's Personal Antispam X5. When you first install the software, you can configure it with Mail, Entourage, or both. If you use a different e-mail program, such as Thunderbird, you won’t be able to use X5.
Outspring Inc. on Monday introduced its new Mail client application for Mac, Outspring Mail. The program is designed for professionals and power users alike, offering what it refers to as "adaptive intelligence" features such as a patent-pending method for filing messages and a powerful spam filter claimed to eliminate more than 98 percent of all incoming junk mail. Outspring claims the client offers a new approach to mail management - one that adapts to the user's most common habits for sorting email. Once the program learns these habits it can automatically file messages into folders rather than the user having to do so manually.
Touch update a bargain
Apple's recent $20 content update for the iPod touch has some users expressing discontent with the company's approach, but others still see a great value in the update package. PC Magazine writer Sascha Segan reports that despite the perception that Apple is charging too much for the update, the software that is installed is well worth the money, and even a bargain. Segan says that the best values in the bundle are the re-designed home screen, as well as the Mail and Maps applications.
DoCoMo and .Mac, 10.5.2
In brief: Japan's NTT DoCoMo telecommunications company is reportedly adding .Mac mail access, while Apple let slip a potential feature in a future revision of Time Machine. When DoCoMo launches its ConnectMail service next month, it will be adding .Mac email compatibility as well. According to Akihabara News, the service will allegedly act as an IMAP mail account, leaving the copy on the .Mac server proper. DoCoMo's ConnectMail service carries a yearly cost of Ą4800.