Mail.appetizer for Tiger

17 July 2005

A decent mail notification utility for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) is something I have been having difficulty finding. I've tried a few different apps and plug-ins over the last few months and have never been particularly happy with any of them.

Growl Mail

Growlis a useful utility because it can play with many OS X applications including Adium, Skype, Colloquy, Safari, NetNewsWire, and dozens more. However, all it can do is provide notifications, and with a mail notification system I want a little more than that. I want to be able to be able to click through to the full mail, mark it as read, or delete it without actually opening a window. Growl Mail also seems unfeasibly difficult to actually install. The main Growl application is simple enough to get working, but the Mail plugin requires a seperate installation and even a little bit of playing around on the command line to allow Tiger to work with it correctly. Also, it seemed to break after every software update I did.


At first I thought iAlertwas going to be a big step up from Growl. It provides that all important functionality to be able to control from outside the actual application. You can open messages in full, mark them as read, and delete them. I was really keen on iAlert for a few hours and installation was much simpler than Growl Mail. It also provides alerts for other common OS X applications such as iTunes and Safari. However, iAlert is actually missing one quite crucial feature. When the alert initially pops up, there is no preview of the email headers or body text. You have to click on the alert which then expands to show the preview. To me that is no good---if I am in the middle of some work and an email pops up, I want to know instantly without having to move my mouse whether it is something I want to deal with now or leave until later. iAlert was binned pretty soon after and I actually reverted to Growl Mail because the most important feature of a mail notification should be the instant preview that is avaliable.


I have looked with a muted jealousy at people running Mail.appetizeron their Panther installs for a while now. It always seemed to me that this was a more robust and purpose built application than any of the other solutions I had tried. On July 4th Bronson Beta released Mail.appetizer 1.2 Beta 1---with support for Tiger. Appetizer comes with an installer, and is an absolute doddle to get up and running. No messing about in Library/mail/bundles directories, and certainly no fumbling around the command line. It just plugs in and plays. The notification boxes aren't as customisable as Growl Mail, but I like the default one anyway so that doesn't bother me too much. However, the key thing is that it provides exactly the right features for dealing quickly with mail when it comes into your inbox. An instant message preview, and then simple controls allowing you to deal with mail as you see fit, without actually switching to the window. The only other feature I imagine being useful, is being able to mark an email as flagged, which is something I often do with mail that requires direct attention, but not neccessarily urgently. At last I've found the mail notification solution I've been looking for since moving to Tiger, and I would definitely recommend taking a look at Mail.appetizer if you don't have a notification system you're happy with. If you do have one you're happy with, and it's not any I've mentioned here, give me a heads up as I'm definitely interested in checking out other applications that provide this utilty---they make such a huge difference when your inbox is an important part of your working day.