Mail 4.x: Even more frustrating behaviour when dealing with low-bandwidth situations

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Mail
October 19th, 2009 • 9:40 am

It’s bad enough that, when checking mail in a low-bandwidth situation and getting a lack of response from a mail server, Mail typically reacts by throwing a modal dialog box asking the user to re-enter the account’s password, as if the password had changed and was now incorrect.

This has been the situation for years now with Mac OS X’s Mail. Usually, you have to dismiss the dialog box by hitting “Cancel.” This usually takes the account off-line (another gem from Apple’s interface experts) but at least you can restore the normal situation by bringing the account back on-line and checking for new mail once the bandwidth situation has improved.

Much to the dismay of every Mac OS X user with occasional bandwidth unreliability, Apple has actually managed to make the situation worse in Snow Leopard—much, much worse.

Now, when checking mail in a low-bandwidth situation and getting a lack of response from a mail server, Mail 4.x still throws the modal dialog box in your face. But then when you dismiss it, which takes the account off-line, for some reason the idiotic Mail actually really forgets the account’s password.

Even if you bring the account back on-line, when you try to check for new mail and the bandwidth situation is back to normal, Mail still asks for the account’s password—even though it has not changed and should now be properly recognized and processed by the mail server. You have no choice but to manually enter the password again and check the “Remember this password” option to make sure Mail actually remembers it again (until next time).

And even when you’ve re-entered the password, Mail still takes the account off-line yet again, instead of initiating a proper connection with the server. You then have to take it on-line once more, and then finally things get back to normal and Mail manages to retrieve the new mail for the account from the server.

This is completely ridiculous. It’s quite clear that no one at Apple ever bothers to check Mail’s behaviour in situations with compromised bandwidth. I know that artificially reproducing such situations takes a bit of effort, but obviously even that little bit effort is too much for Apple’s poor overworked engineers. Maybe they could just try unplugging their Ethernet cable from time to time and see what happens. It might be enlightening.

But then, I don’t think they care one bit or pay any attention to this. All my bug reports about problems with low bandwidth in Mail and Safari over the years have been gleefully ignored, with a few unexpected exceptions. (Apple actually fixed this old problem with Safari and slow-loading pages in tabs in Safari 4.)

No, in Apple’s world, everything is always rosy, your Internet connection is always on and superfast, so you never ever have to deal with any low-bandwidth situations. Got that? Now shut up and smile.

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