I finally clicked one too many mailto: links that launched Mail.app (which I immediately quit from, having never — since I installed Snow Leopard on this laptop — reconfigured it so it will actually run) and decided to try out Mailplane.
Mailplane is a simple, clever, and well-executed idea. Build a simple webkit wrapper for gmail, and then use gmail’s keyboard shortcuts and API combined with Cocoa to deliver a proper Mac experience. Mailplane works (with a few minor glitches) as advertised, and has some brilliant convenience features, such as providing deep integration with iPhoto and drag-and-drop file attachments.
And, of course, it handles mailto: links.
The problem is that in the twenty-four hours I’ve been using it, my single greatest annoyance with it is that it’s not running in my web browser. Needing to alt-tab to another app to copy something from my email (or, now, Google Buzz) to a web page or vice versa, or middle-click a link in an email (or Buzz) to open the page in a new tab, is a royal pain in the ass — and it affects me every few minutes, versus the once-in-a-long-while that mailto: links annoy me, and the once or twice a day that file attachments annoy me.
So, far from being “The most productive way to use Gmail on your Mac”, I find Mailplane to be, essentially, a bad idea.
So I googled for “mailto links safari gmail” and quickly found Gmail Notifier for Mac. I assume the Windows version is similarly good. It’s free (vs. $25 for Mailplane), and essentially provides basic desktop integration of Gmail and Google calendar. I don’t use the latter, and I find being shown random ancient unread emails to be annoying, so I’ve turned off most of its functionality. But it does handle mailto: links.
Which brings me to my second pet peeve with Gmail, and something Mailplane addresses really well.
There’s a Firefox extension that provides drag and drop attachments for gmail, but it only works in some (older) versions of Firefox and I’ve pretty much sworn off Firefox, and totally sworn off crufty old Firefox. While lamenting the lack of such a goody for Safari, I came across this post (strangely enough, rated one out of five stars):
Safari allows you to drag and drop to any Choose File… button.
I checked this and yup, it works dandy. The only remaining issue is that Gmail doesn’t give you a target button by default, which costs a click. Oh well.
This is why I use a freaking Mac.
Incidentally, the main reason I don’t simply configure Mail.app to send mail via Gmail and be done with it is that I have this nasty habit of leaving crap in my Gmail inbox (over 3000 unread items, mostly borderline spam) and there seems no simple way to stop Mail.app from trying to download large portions of it. Of course I haven’t tried lately, so chances are if I did it would work perfectly and I wouldn’t have typed this pointless blog entry.
Nope, Mail.app still sucks. Maybe iTunes and Mail.app will get married and move out.