This article was first published on 2007-06-22. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
Let’s first decide how you want to manage your email. Your first choice to make is whether you want to manage your email through your web browser, such as using Gmail orWhich program to choose for Yahoo Mail, or if you want a full featured email application like Mail (or Outlook on a PC).
You manage your web based email (known as IMAP) through a web site located at the service provider’s address such as gmail.com. Usually you have to go to the web site to check your email or write a new one unless you use an add-on program such as Google Notifier.
To use your computer based email (known as POP3), you click on the program icon in the Dock or in your Applications folder. If your internet connection is always on, you can set your application to automatically look for new email for you. Most people just leave the program running so they get notified when they receive new email and can quickly switch to it when they need it.
Here are some Pros and Cons for each.
Web Based Email (IMAP). Pro: You can access your email from any computer, Easiest setup. Con: Doesn’t have sophisticated email features, Doesn’t integrate with other Apple applications like iPhoto and Address Book. Examples: Gmail (Google email), Yahoo.
Computer Based Email (POP3). Pro: Much more capability, drag and drop attachments, integration with other programs. For example, iPhoto can create an email and insert photos into it with this kind of email. Con: More steps to set up, email managed only at your Mac. Examples: email from your work (firstname.lastname@example.org), email you set up with your ISP (name@yourISP.com).
My advice is to use a Computer based email program unless you often bounce from one computer to the next in the course of your day. I also advise you still create a web based email account as a backup plan when you find yourself without your Mac or your email is not working for one reason or another. Side note: You often can use both web based and computer based email on the same email account, but for the sake of simplicity, I suggest you pick one route for its strengths and stick with it.
If you decided to go with Web based email, I suggest selecting from these three options:
- Gmail (Google email) for integration with other Google services like Googles Docs.
- Yahoo for integration with iPhone "push" email services.
- .Mac (Apple) email for intergration with the other .Mac services. Don’t buy .Mac just for the email. The above ones are free.
If web based email is for you, you can skip to the Dig Deeper section for links to the services and start your new email service from Safari. Keep in mind, there are lots of programs to make these services even better, such as Gmail + Growl 2.0.
For Computer based email, the main two contenders are Mail from Apple, and Entourage which is a part of Microsoft Office. Both are quality programs, but I give the nod to Mail for its great searching ability and that Microsoft’s database seems to get corrupted regularly and needs rebuilding. I recommend Entourage if you want to integrate with your company’s Exchange server as seamlessly as possible (Exchange is the part of Outlook where you share address books, Calendars and book meeting rooms with the rest of the company).
If you took my recommendation to use Mail, click here to continue on to How Do I Set Up My Email in Apple Mail?
Are these the best programs for email? Let us know what you think or ask further questions in the Comments section below!