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It�s a Love/Hate Relationship with Mozilla Mail 1.6

When Spam Has Got Your Down

  • April 5, 2004
  • By Ron Miller
Several months ago, after years of frustration with Outlook Express and Internet Explorer, I made the switch to Mozilla 1.6. Although, I'm using both the browser and the mail program, this article takes a look at the pros and cons of the Mozilla Mail client. I'll tackle the browser in a future article.

Let me begin by saying that I'm a heathen Windows user. I've been using Windows since Windows 3.1 hit the streets in the early 90s. Before that I used DOS. I go back a long way with personal computers, and believe me when I tell you, I know the limitations and frustrations of using Windows, but it was Spam that drove me into the arms of open source and Mozilla.

For a long time, I tried to control Spam in Outlook Express by making rules. That didn't work because the spammers caught on that people were making rules and cleverly disguised their Viagra subject line by making it Vi@gra instead, and Outlook Express just couldn't handle that. I tried several anti-Spam solutions, but I wasn't comfortable with server side solutions that checked my mail before it came to me or ones that sent a letter asking senders to identify themselves.

So when several friends said that Mozilla was the answer, I decided to give it a try. No Spam control is perfect and neither is Mozilla, but it moves about 90 percent of my Spam to a Junk folder automatically. It occasionally misses some, but I simply click the Junk button and off it goes to the Junk folder never to bother me again. Very occasionally, it incorrectly marks a legitimate mail as Junk, usually a newsletter, but I simply mark it as Not Junk and it doesn't do it again. That's right, it seems to learn what's good mail and what's not.

Sometimes when I get a lot of mail at the same time, Mozilla misses several Spams, but that's a minor annoyance compared with what I dealt with every morning in Outlook Express. Of course it can't do anything to control Spam when I get my mail on the road through my ISP's Web interface, but that's not what it's designed to do. What it does do, is a great job of controlling Spam on the desktop, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

What's more, it's much less vulnerable to the myriad of viruses and Trojan horses and other nasties that take advantages of holes in the Microsoft code base.

Yet, there is a whole level of ease of use built into Outlook Express that's missing in Mozilla Mail. Say what you will about Outlook Express (OE), and it has its problems, but when you select a sender name in your In Box, then click the Sender Name column label to sort the list of mail alphabetically by name, OE places you alphabetically within the list based upon the selected name. Mozilla Mail, on the other hand, seems to choose a random spot in the list.

What's more, when you type a letter in OE, you go the beginning of that letter in the list of recipients. This doesn't work in Mozilla Mail forcing me to scroll through my rather lengthy list of mail.

Nor does Mozilla Mail have a Previous and Next Button, so that when you do finally sort the list to your liking, you can view the emails from a given recipient by clicking a button, rather than double-clicking a mail, seeing it's not the right one, returning to the list, double-clicking the next one and so forth. Instead, Mozilla offers a Next Unread Mail button, which is fine for reading unread mail, but doesn't help you when you want to sort through a list of mail you have already read quickly to locate a particular one. Most annoying.

In the end, however, I'll live with these annoyances because I know Mozilla Mail is still evolving and at some point the ease of use features will come. In the mean time, it does a great job with Spam control, and I'm willing to wait for the rest.

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