Mail 3.1: ‘Save’ button for attachments not working properly

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Mail
November 22nd, 2007 • 11:41 am

In Mail 3.1, the one new improvement that Apple made when it comes to handling file attachments in e-mails is that they added a “Quick Look” button where there was a “Slideshow” button in Mac OS X 10.4.

But the other button next to the attachments in the message header is still the “Save” button that was there in Mail in Mac OS X 10.4:

Save button in message header

However, in my experience, this “Save” button no longer works the way it did in Mac OS X 10.4.

In Mac OS X 10.4, I was able to use a single click on this button to directly bring up the “Save As…” dialog that would let me select a location for saving all the attachments in the message.

Instead, now, I am forced to click-and-hold on this same button, which brings up a contextual menu with a command to save all the attachments as well as a menu item for each individual attachment, which allows the user to save individual attachments instead of the whole lot in one fell swoop.

This contextual menu was already there in Mac OS X 10.4. What has changed is that it is now the only option that works with this “Save” button. The simple and most obvious option, which is a single click on the button, no longer works—which does not make sense, because the button’s visual appearance suggests both a regular button that responds to a single click (like the “Quick Look” button next to it) and a button that brings up a pop-up menu (with the triangle). Besides, the tool tip clearly suggests that the button should respond to a simple click as well.

I suspect that this is a bug rather than a deliberate “improvement,” and of course I have already submitted a bug report. If this bug bothers you, I invite you to do the same. (Maybe this bug does not affect everyone, but I seriously doubt it, as I don’t really have any kind of third-party software that could be suspected of interfering with this button.)

Sadly, there are no other improvements to attachment handling that I can see in Mail in Mac OS X 10.5. When the file name of an attachment exceeds a certain length (not much), it is still impossible to see the full name without hovering over the attachment icon with the mouse and waiting for the yellow tool tip to show with the name in full.

(Alternatively, the file name is also displayed in the title bar of the Quick Look window, although of course in the case of multiple attachments you have go through them until you find the one you want.)

I really wish there was a simple way to always force Mail by default to display attachment names in full as plain text in the message header. I submitted an “enhancement request” about this a long time ago, but obviously Apple’s engineers have bigger fish to fry.

9 Responses to “Mail 3.1: ‘Save’ button for attachments not working properly”

  1. JMTee says:

    In my system single clicking the Save button saves the attachment(s) by default to the new Downloads folder. This is even visible by a single bounce of the Download folder.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Good Lord. So that‘s what’s happening! It just so happens that, a long time ago, I chose a particular folder destination for downloads in Mail’s preferences (under “General”). I had completely forgotten about it, because clicking on the “Save” button used to bring up the “Save As” dialog sheet and so I would just select a destination manually, which was whatever destination was most convenient in each case.

    Now I see that indeed, when I click on the “Save” button, Mail saves the files in my old destination folder. Since it is not the default “Downloads” folder that’s in the Dock, the Dock icon does not bounce, and so I get absolutely no feedback, either visual or audio, when I click on the “Save” button. I am just supposed to know that it saves in that destination folder—something that it never did before.

    (For the record, prior to Mac OS X 10.5, the “Downloads” destination defined in Mail’s prefs was only used automatically by Mail when you double-clicked on an attachment icon in an e-mail message to open it. Double-clicking on it would have the effect not just of opening the attachment, but of actually saving it in the Downloads folder first and then opening that file.)

    Anyway, thanks for the clarification. Now I understand what’s going on. I don’t really like it, because it means that if I want to manually choose the destination of the save, I have to click-and-hold and choose “Save All,” but I guess I can get used to that now.

    I still think that the complete lack of feedback when clicking on “Save” if the destination folder is not the default Downloads folder is rather problematic.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    They should also probably update the text in the tool tip for the “Save” button, to indicate more clearly that where the files are saved when you click on the button,

  4. Hawk Wings » Blog Archive » Leopard Mail’s stupid save attachments button says:

    […] Pierre Igot takes aim at the behaviour of the Save button in Leopard Mail, with the rigour and vigour which are his trademarks. […]

  5. chilstrom says:

    The “Save” button looks correct to me, as there is no ellipsis after “Save” to indicate that a dialog will appear when the button is clicked. While you are burdened by having an extra step, people who regularly save to their downloads folder will be saved a step. I think it’s a wash, where some are burdened by the change and others relieved. For my purposes, this change is an improvement, but I imagine that those who regularly save attachments to folders other than Download will be inconvenienced.

    Apple’s current set up for downloads works well, I suspect, for the majority of users who go with the default set up. They will get the visual feedback of seeing their attachments bounce in the Dock, so the problem you experienced will be escaped by most. Perhaps, Mail might check your default downloads folder to insure that it is in the Dock and that visual feedback is available.

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    To be fair, part of my problem was that, since my Mail Downloads folder was set to a specific folder from the pre-Mac OS X 10.5 days, it stayed set to that folder, and because that folder was not the new default Downloads folder, I wasn’t getting the visual feedback in the Dock. Hence my impression that the button was not working at all. (I never actually used that Mail Downloads folder for much, since pre-Mac OS X 10.5 Mail didn’t use it the same way, so I wasn’t in the habit of checking its contents regularly.)

    I think they could have alleviated the problem by

    1) updating the tooltip when hovering over the new Save button to indicate clearly where the files are going to be saved

    2) providing some kind of feedback other than just the bouncing in the Dock, especially when the Mail Downloads folder is not in the Dock.

    But these days, unfortunately, Apple does not pay attention to such details anymore. They only pay maximum attention to the default scenario, and if your situation strays from the default scenario, even using only options provided by Apple itself, there’s a good chance that your situation will not have been tested properly.

    Other than that, I agree that the problem with the triangle in the Save button is somewhat minor. It’s a non-standard thing, but I guess we are used to having so many non-standard things these days.

    The bottom line is that, if Apple had done the migration properly so that it would work well also for users who had a non-default Mail Downloads setting in their prefs, I probably would have presented and phrased my initial blog post differently. But they did not, and so I assumed that the button was buggy, etc. etc.

  7. Piper says:

    Try holding down the save button instead of clicking it. You will get a save dialogue to choose where you want the thing. It’s a bit clunky, but not all that different from the old behaviour. All that’s added is a quarter-second delay. You don’t need to play with the triangle at all.

  8. Pierre Igot says:

    I know that holding down brings up the pop-up menu. This is very similar to what was happening in 10.4. But in order to bring up the Save As dialog, you still have to manually make a selection in the menu after that.

    My problem was with the single-click behaviour. Since my Mail Downloads folder was a custom one and not the default Downloads folder that’s in the Dock, I was not getting any feedback when I was single-clicking on the button, which led me to believe that it was broken.

  9. Piper says:

    Sorry, I just re-read your article without rushing and see you already made that point. My fault.

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