22 Comments

Summary:

OK, I’ve had my gripes about Mail.app before (see Mail Signatures Suck, but I’ve never mentioned the layout of the Mail.app window. Now there’s a solution that highlights a fault in the original and almost entirely related to the current trend towards widescreen monitors. Why? Well, […]

OK, I’ve had my gripes about Mail.app before (see Mail Signatures Suck, but I’ve never mentioned the layout of the Mail.app window. Now there’s a solution that highlights a fault in the original and almost entirely related to the current trend towards widescreen monitors.

Why? Well, the current structure of the Mail.app window assumes that you want a list of folders on the left, and a split between the list of messages in a folder, and the message itself on the right.

This is fine on a standard 4:3 monitor. But on your typical widescreen, as used in the iMac or Powerbook/MacBook and variations thereof, you end up with the potential to waste a lot of space.

If you use the full-screen for your Mail.app window (like me), you’ll end up either with a very wide folder list, or a wide message list, which often means lots of white space, either to pad out your mail folders, or to pad out the columns in your message list. And even with a hi-res 20″ widescreen display, the amount of space you can devote to the actual mail message is quite small.

Now there’s a plug-in for Mail.app that splits your screen into three vertical columns, one for folders, one for the mail list, and one for the message. You can download the plug-in from here (with instructions), and thanks to The Unofficial Apple Weblog for the heads up.

Here’s the traditional layout:

Mail.app three panels

And the same folder and message in the three panels layout:

Mail.app three panels

The overall result is that you can see more messages in a folder without having to scroll, and you an usually see all of the mail message too – or at least more of it at the same time.

Well worth trying out if you are a widescreen Mac user.

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  1. You shouldn’t be using any application fullscreen its completely counter productive, thats one of the worst things about windows.

  2. Brilliant. I love it!

  3. “You shouldn’t be using any application fullscreen its completely counter productive, thats one of the worst things about windows.”

    Anyone else confused by this?? How is it counter productive?? Means it block out all the distractions that lurk behind open windows. Obviously not always necessary, but when dealing with large amounts of emails, you don’t want distracting.

  4. Josh Pigford Saturday, June 3, 2006

    Lime, I agree that having some apps fullscreen can be a bit counter productive (like Mail in it’s current state) but I personally can’t stand seeing the edges of like 20 windows when I’m looking at my screen. That’s extremely distracting.

    And also, your claim that you shouldn’t have ANY app at fullscreen is a bit large. Take apps like Photoshop or Illustrator, you better believe I’m gonna have those apps at full screen…that’s precisely why I have dual 21″ monitors…for more screen space in those apps. So be careful making claims like that.

  5. Quite honestly this is probably the only thing I like from Outlook on the PC, and have secretly wished Mail.app could give me the option to flip it around. Fantasic job!

  6. Just in case one didn’t know, you can move the horizontal divider between the email list and the actual message up or down so the message area is larger/smaller. I have mine set so I only see 5-10 in the top list.

  7. I tried the vertical pane in Mail and in Vienna and in other programs, and have to admit that I don’t like it. You get less information out of the headers, for example. Matter of fact, the middle column was simply useless on a 12″ Powerbook. On a real widescreen machine (my MacBook is on its way) it might be different, but this kind of thing is really very monitor dependent.

  8. Couldn’t you resize the entire window? I could be wrong.

  9. Huh… I’m only happy not to have as many emails as we see on those csreenshots… It would just drive me crazy!!!

  10. Just a note for Market Circle Daylight user’s: This thing seems to confuse DMI and it keeps saying that the ‘email text area is collapsed’.

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