Leopard Mail.app Frustrations

My upgrade to Leopard has gone smoothly for the most part. Thanks to the addition of drag & drop to the default Apple+tab application switcher and Logan Rockmore’s MailUnreadMenu I’ve almost completely eliminated my dependence on the goofy new Dock. I’ve always used Quicksilver or LaunchBar as (and only as) an application launcher so now the only time I show the Dock is when I need to retrieve something from the Trash that can’t be accomplished with a simple Apple+z.

Unfortunately, the program that I am having the most trouble with is also one of my most used, Mail.app. The first issue is a minor problem that I could live with if it were not exasperated by a second.

The first time I try to archive a message in my inbox after launching Mail.app I receive this message:

Mail needs to change the IMAP path prefix for account “Account Name” to create the “Apple Mail To Do” mailbox. Do you want Mail to change the prefix now?

“Cool,” I thought, “I’ll never use it but sure. Why not?” I’ll tell you why, because all of the messages and folders in my inbox disappear with the Mail.app prescribed prefix. The restart fix suggested elsewhere did not restore the messages. I tried creating the mailbox manually from within Mail.app and that failed. I ended up having to manually change my IMAP prefix back to its original value. I lose a feature I never planned to use anyway and my messages and folders are saved. Perfect. Except now whenever I have to quit and relaunch Mail.app the first message I try to archive pops that same dialogue. Nothing in the Preferences gives me the option “Don’t ask again.” (The Account > Mailbox Behaviors section would be the logical place for this opt-out setting.)

So how often do I relaunch Mail.app? Before I encountered this second problem, rarely. Quick background before I get to the actual problem: I don’t like HTML email. It’s abused more often than not. I take advantage of the un-GUI’d PreferPlainText toggle, which—among many other things—can be easily changed with the new Secrets Preference Pane or via the Terminal with:

defaults write com.apple.mail PreferPlainText -bool TRUE

The second problem is that when an HTML email has an attachment, the messages list correctly detects the presence and number of attachments but the message window (both separate and preview pane) provides no way to save or view said attachments. The Messages menu even goes so far as to detect the attachment and allow me to “Remove Attachments”—but not to save them. I had not encountered this problem prior to upgrading to Leopard.

So every time I receive an HTML email with an attachment I have to quit Mail.app, toggle off PreferPlainText and relaunch. Chances are I’ll archive that email with attachment before quitting, toggling, and relaunching again. That means every time I encounter the second problem I am subjected to the first twice.

Because of the esoteric nature of these issues I don’t hold out much hope of them being addressed. At least I know what I’ll be doing on/between my flights to SXSW: writing an AppleScript to parse out and save attachments from raw message source. Fun.

Update: Stanley Rost writes:

Ah! Now that is why I have the problem with some attachments. I checked with others but never would have come to the conclusion it has to do with PreferPlainText. My solution though is quite simple (works for at least one attachment). Use QuickView (Apple+Y). From there you can double click or drag and drop for most files.

I couldn’t get the drag and drop to work (that just moved the QuickView window) but double-clicking worked for a “missing” Illustrator file and images were easy browsed or added to iPhoto.

Another update: Nathan Huening writes:

whenever I get a message that I suspect has attachments, I just type Apple + option + ] and up it appears. This is called the “Next Alternative” and it’s found under “View > Message”

Perfect (or as close to perfect as we’re likely to get).

We Are Wizards
MailUnreadMenu 3
Shaun Inman
March 5th, 2008 at 7:53 pm