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