May 11, 2005

Tiger Continues to Disappoint

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's found the new Mail.app in MacOS X Tiger a disappointment. It's slower, it's uglier, it's less flexible, and did I mention it's slower?

Slower: Spotlight makes everything slow. More disk activity for everything. Each incoming mail has to be saved not only in the mbox, but in this new "emlx" format. Plus, huge index files for searching. The result? Slow slow slow. Why index and create emlx files for SPAM, pray tell? Everything was working fine with SpamSieve until Tiger came along. What used to take a few seconds now can take a minute or more. If hours have gone by since the last Get Mail action, and I have a hundred or more emails coming in, Mail.app has to chug its way through each individual email, indexing, duplicating, who knows what else. This is not progress.

Uglier: The interface was better in the previous release. The new buttons are ugly, break some well-established design principles, and sometimes don't work at all (I've twice so far encountered Mail.app with broken buttons, half-drawn, or missing buttons in the tool bar -- very buggy!)

Less Flexible: Used to be if the user wanted the mailbox "drawer" on the right, the user could have it on the right. Not anymore. Now we are all forced to have it on the left. This is not progress.

Bottom line, I've turned off Spotlight altogether on my machine.

If only Qualcomm would decently fund Eudora and make it better than Mail.app, I'd switch back.

Posted by brian at May 11, 2005 07:30 AM

Comments

I'm not sure where you got the idea that Mail 2.0 stores emails in both emlx and mbox formats. This is not the case. Messages are stored in .emlx files, with key headers indexed in the SQLite database at ~/Library/Mail/Envelope Index. If you have upgraded from Panther's version of Mail then chances are the mbox files have not been removed, but they are not written to by Mail 2.0.

Posted by: Mark Rowe at May 11, 2005 01:11 PM

I agree on the spotlight issue...also, the widgets and dashboard, are nice eye candy, but also seem to make the machine feel a bit slower...haven't seen anyone write up a detailed review on this though...

Posted by: Michael Parekh at May 13, 2005 04:47 AM

Hmph. Is emlx really a per-message format? That's disapppointing. In Panther's Mail.app, I specifically move old messages from IMAP folders to local folders to improve performance and disk efficiency, but that requires mbox files. I can't imagine how slow mail would be with tens of thousands of tiny files lying around and being reindexed with every system hiccup...

This alone will probably delay my switch to Tiger until at least 10.4.1.

Posted by: Chris at May 23, 2005 10:55 AM

In my experience so far, Mail's performance on 10.4 far exceeds that on 10.3. I have several mailboxes with > 30,000 messages and switching between them is substantially faster than in previous versions. I think a lot of this advantage comes from storing the message information needed to display the message list in the SQLite database rather than having to load it from the mbox file each time as I understand it did in previous versions.

Posted by: Mark Rowe at May 23, 2005 03:58 PM

That's good to hear. Storing message list information in the SQLite database is a good design decision. However, I've noticed that processes external to Mail (like Backup) are slowed by large numbers of small files, as is the structure of the disk itself. I've had disks magically "find" up to a gig of free space after transferring messages from IMAP to mbox folders.

Still, I expect that Apple will smooth out the rough edges as Tiger matures, and eventually I'll find some compelling reason to upgrade. :)

Posted by: Chris at May 25, 2005 09:10 AM

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with serious gripes about the new Mail.app. Not only is the interface horrible (indeed, I used to have my folders on the right side of the window:-), but it has gotten slow to the point of being unusable. At least, with my current volume of spam (about 1500 per day). Panther mail could have used a few extra goodies ("Don't cache attachments in Junk folder" to name one, or "Treat this folder as an inbox" for imap-server based message routing), but none of these have appeared. In stead we got something that's uglier and much less usable.

I've upgraded one machine to Tiger, but I may hold off on the others until Mail.app gets into better shape.

Posted by: Jack Jansen at May 28, 2005 02:17 PM

I don't mind the interfaces changes so much but I would echo the same feedback on slow. I currently have 6-8 messages in my inbox. At least I did last time it decided to show me messages, right now my inbox says (0 messages) which is not true. I can only hope there is some indexing going on and it will get to be a reasonable performance later on.

Posted by: Chris Christensen at June 8, 2005 12:29 AM

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