Call me crazy, but after dumping Windows I’ve been thinking about becoming completely Microsoft free. No Office. No Word. No Excel. No PowerPoint. Reluctantly, no Entourage. Is it possible to be a viable business without using Microsoft Office? One of my favorite Mac applications is Entourage, which I’ve used since the Mac Classic days. What can replace it? Apple’s Mail? Or, Postbox?
Why and Wherefore
There should be no argument that mail and contacts and scheduling are essential to a Mac user in business.
Microsoft’s Entourage has been my pal for years, my go-to buddy in times of need (contacts), my confidant of communication (email), and my do-it-all sidekick (tasks and projects) since Claris Emailer went belly up in the last century.
Does my disillusionment with all things Microsoft mean I’m willing to forego tried and true and what works for an unknown quantity?
I’m thinking about it.
Microsoft isn’t much for consistent and regular updates, and Entourage still looks and feels like 1999. Meanwhile, Mail, iCal, Address Book, MobileMe, and other apps and utilities get Apple’s rapid snail touch.
Trial by Error
Remarkably, Entourage replacements are not sitting inside clear plastic blister packages at the Walmart checkout line. Sure, there’s Apple’s Mail, but you have to add iCal and Address Book, and more just to match Entourage.
Email management is not a trivial affair. It’s serious business so I don’t take a switch lightly. Postbox? Intriguing.
What I’ve seen, I’ve liked. Postbox is attractive, with that modern plastic platinum look that Apple so loves. The toolbar is familiar to both Mail and Entourage users.
Features? Postbox thinks different. Think search. Postbox stores and catalogs everything in every email message; whether text, contact, address, link, attachment, image, document, whatever.
Search is instant. That’s good, because I have email messages going back a dozen years. We live in a visual time and Postbox makes a thumbnail gallery of every photo or graphic from every message. That’s incredibly handy because I have relatives who love to forward both. Regularly. With no other message.
Talk to Me
Threading is a big deal in Twitter, Instant Messaging, iChat, and Postbox handles threading via Conversation Views, which tracks related messages and replies. If you haven’t tried threading (available in a limited look in Mail), you don’t know what you’re missing.
Postbox pulls together not only inbox email, but sent email, and makes a summary thread. Sweet. I’m not much for rich text messages, but I get more of them than text email these days.
Postbox uses a Compose Sidebar which gives quick access to all the items you need to compose a message; links, images, attachments. All those things you usually hunt around to get are a click away.
Tabs Gone Wild
I’m still brooding that Safari 4’s tabs reverted back to the Safari 3 tab style. Postbox does tabs, too. Inbox. Images. Sent. Nearly anything can be organized in a tab. It’s like NetNewsWire for email.
The little pop up black charcoal search window is annoying. I have a big Mac screen and little windows tend to get lost when I have plenty of apps open. Ditto for the Contacts pop up panel. Yes, it’s fast access to the Address Book, but yet another window swimming.
Postbox does integration different. Click to Google. Click to Maps. Click to Twitter. I like that. I also like the little security touches including spam protection; not as good as Spam Sieve. The anti-phishing option is a welcome addition.
Would I dump Entourage for Postbox? Not yet. But I’m intrigued because Postbox does more, does it differently, but isn’t crazy looking like Thunderbird.
Unlike Entourage, Postbox is more or less a one trick pony, so finding the companion utilities to manage contacts, tasks, projects and email isn’t trivial. I like Postbox, but I’m still looking.