Gmail is just so damn good that I haven’t used a desktop email client in years. Desktop apps are always better than their web-based counterparts. Gmail is the exception. I can think of no other case where a web-based version of an app is better than a good desktop app. Google Docs and Spreadsheets vs Pages and Numbers? Nope. Mindomo, Mindmeister, etc. vs MindManager. Not even close. Photoshop Express vs Photoshop Elements? Nuh uh. The convenience of having stuff in the cloud is not enough to compensate for the user experience sacrifices I have to make.

The recent release of Outspring Mail made me want to try a desktop mail client again. Unfortunately, Outspring wasn’t enough to convince me. It’s a neat idea, but seemed buggy and was missing some pretty basic things I use regularly, like selecting all messages and marking them as read. Outspring made me do it one message at a time, then crashed.

Of course by looking at Outspring I was reminded of Mail.app. I stopped using Mail.app primarily because of Gmail’s search speed and conversation view. Just for fun, I fired it up again to see how things were going with the new (Leopard) version. I tend to go all-in when trying stuff, so I set it up to POP mail from my Gmail account and archive Gmail’s version. IMAP is great, but I honestly only check mail from my laptop so IMAP isn’t that important in real life for me.

The next thing I did was install MailTags and Mail Act-On. Both are terrifically useful for cranking through and organizing lots of email. I have actions and tags and smart folders all set up to help with my workflow. It’s nice. Mail has a lot of things going for it. Integration with iCal and Address Book. Drag-n-drop attachments, etc.

So after a week, where are we? As of right now, I’m sticking with Mail. Search using Leopard’s Spotlight is very fast, so my biggest complaint about the last version is moot. MailTags makes organizing really nice, without having to spend much time messing with folders and moving stuff around. I also get the benefit of having a local, offline copy of all my messages, just in case Evil Happens.

I still miss Gmail’s conversations view, but that I can live with.