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Well, I tried. I used Mail exclusively as my email client for over two weeks…

Setting up mailbox folders, exporting/importing all of my emails over, creating rules, trying everything I could to automate Mail the way I need to work, and even trying new ways to work.

I also researched and downloaded a Mail plug-in that added keywords so I could tag and brand emails. All these efforts still could not replicate the efficient use of the ‘categories’ functionality that I was used to in Entourage.

Then the bell rang. Or maybe it was the ringing sound of my head slamming into the wall, again.
Why am I trying so hard to get this program to work for me? Shouldn’t it just work? That’s usually the Mac way. Should I have so many hoops to jump through just to get from point A to point B? No, I shouldn’t.

To be fair to Mail, I examined what functionality has become so pivitol to my workflow, that I could do in Entourage but not in Mail. Let’s start with the Address Book in Entourage.

1. When email is received the sender goes into the Address Book and is labeled with a category I’ve created. Like Business, Software, Family, MacGroup, Adobe or 0810PS Students. (I have at minimum 50 different categories, and 350 rules.)
2. The email iteself is also labeled with the same category.
3. Multiple categories can be applied to each email entrant and email.
4. This category (unique identifier) can be used to sort by on a grand scale, create groups from that sorting process, apply rules and actions, and more.

In addition, one feature that I was often stopped in my tracks by is that when moving email to specific folders, I can create the folder on the fly after selecting the Move command, if the folder doesn’t already exist; unlike in Mail, where if the needed folder isn’t created before I evoke the Move command I can’t continue the move process, I have to stop and create the folder.

In Entourage these things, and more, are really easy to do, very Mac-like. Almost, intuitive. Something Microsoft isn’t really known for.

On a regular basis, I need to contact groups of people to disperse information. These contacts may be tagged with several different categories, but a find can bring multiple categories and groups together. Category functionality has become an indespensible feature for me.

I gave it the old college try, I really did. I want to switch to Mail and Address Book exclusively and banish the Microsoft products to my Parallels desktop only. But Address Book and Mail just aren’t robust enough for my needs. And trying to make Mail work for me just wasn’t working for me. I was hoping that Mail and Address Book for Apple would be like what InDesign was for Adobe. InDesign started off as a very basic piece of software, but with each version features were added to eventually make InDesign into the powerhouse it is today. But, each day in Mail brought further consternation and put me further behind in my work. That right there is a show stopper.

So, even though I didn’t want to upgrade my old MS Office products, I did. I upgraded to an older version, Office 2008 for Mac. This, maybe, should give me a few addtional years to solve this issue (gee, thanks), unless someone can show me a better way in Mail.

And, I have to admit, once I got into Entourage 2008, I breathed a great big sigh.

Entourage has already been replaced by Outlook in the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 product line, of which I have not heard good press about. Hopefully, in the next few years, Mail will have developed what I need in order for the next attempted conversion to stick.

Apple most asuredly wants Address Book and Mail to be consumer friendly and not placed it in the same sentence as the powerful InDesign, but please expand the categories funtionality, without it, us power-users, will be looking elsewhere.

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