January 27th, 2004 • 11:20 pm
The fact that there is no way to browse or modify the list of existing mailboxes in Mail without selecting them in the mailbox drawer on the side, which in turn causes the display in the main viewing area of the Mail Viewer window to change, continues to be a major design flaw in Panther’s Mail application.
For example, take a very simple situation. You start a new email discussion with someone and want to archive it in one of your mailboxes. You don’t have a mailbox for this person yet, so you need to create a new one. And you want to create it inside, say, your “Friends” mailbox folder.
The trouble is that the spelling of this person’s name is a bit hard to memorize, because of weird Spanish diacritics or for whatever reason. You want to create a mailbox that bears this person’s name, but you need to keep this person’s mail in full view while doing this, so that you can refer to it and make sure you got the spelling right.
The trouble is, as soon as you click on the “Friends” mailbox folder, which is the only way to create a new mailbox inside that folder, the display in the main viewing area changes from the contents of your “In” box (where the messages from this person are) to the contents of the “Friends” mailbox, so that you can no longer see the name of the person in question in the main viewing area in order to verify the spelling. And it is impossible to prevent Mail from doing this.
So you choose to try a different approach. You go back to the “In” box, and double-click on one of this person’s email, so that you can see his name (along with the rest of the message) in a separate window. Then you click on the “Friends” mailbox again.
It still doesn’t work, because clicking on the “Friends” mailbox in the mailbox drawer causes the entire Mail Viewer window to come back to the foreground and hide the separate message window with this person’s name.
Now the only solution you have is to resize and move the windows so that both the Mail Viewer window and the message window can be seen at the same time — which of course requires a fairly big screen to begin with! Never mind the fact that the main viewing area in the Mail Viewer window is a big empty white space, since your “Friends” mailbox itself doesn’t contain any messages. (It’s just a container folder.) It’s a huge waste of screen real estate, but since you cannot select a mailbox in the mailbox drawer without viewing its contents in the main viewing area (even if it doesn’t contain anything), there’s nothing you can do about it.
Then you try a third approach. Instead of trying to view both the main window and the message window at the same time, you try to select that person’s name in the message window and copy the name to the Clipboard, so that you can paste it in the new mailbox’s name field once you’ve created it. It’s not an ideal solution, because usually you name the mailbox for Joe Smith’s message “SMITH Joe”, with the last name first and in capital letters and the first name last. And usually that’s not the way the person’s name appears next to their email address in the “From:” field. But nevermind. At least you’ll be able to paste and see the name while you are typing the proper mailbox name.
The trouble is that, when you go to the “From:” field to try and select that person’s name, you can’t! As soon as you click on the name, the entire “From:” field turns into that blue thing that’s supposed to make things easier for you. If you do a “Copy” command now, the entire field is going to be copied to the Clipboard, including the full name and the email address, which you do not want to copy! There is a contextual menu for this blue thing, but it only offers the option to “Copy Address to Clipboard”, not to “Copy Name to Clipboard”. So you’re out of luck. Either you copy the entire field, including both name and email address, or you don’t copy anything.
Pardon me for thinking that this whole process is highly absurd. I am just trying to keep this person’s name in full view while I am creating a new mailbox for him!