Since I've been using the Powerbook (which I still need to replace with a newer one now that the "speed bump" is official), I've drastically changed my e-mail habits (personal mail, not work mail). In doing so, I wonder if I'm unusual in this respect.

Previously, I was using mutt for e-mail on my IBM Thinkpad running Linux. If you've not tried it, mutt is really the king of all console-based mail programs. It excels at making it very easy to read (maybe "process" or "manage" is more accurate?) massive volumes of mail every day. Or hour.

And that's the problem. Because mutt makes it easy to handle lots of mail, I found myself on a ton of mailing lists. Remember, easy doesn't mean "requires zero time", so I also found myself spending a lot of time every day processing e-mail--most of which I really didn't read. I just skimmed subjects.

After replacing mutt with on Jaguar (no, I'm not running Panther yet--the new machine obviously will have it), I found the need to reduce my incoming mail volume. A lot.

This bothered me at first, because it made me feel like I was using an inferior tool. But having gone through the exercise of cleaning out old folders, fixing a few procmail rules, and unsubscribing from an assload of mailing lists, I'm a lot happier. I spend way less time reading e-mail and really don't miss skimming all that stuff I was never going to read anyway.

Sure, there was an initial period during which it was surprisingly unnerving to check my mailbox every few minutes and not find something new to read, but that didn't last more than a week.

It's kind of like watching TV. Since I stopped, I haven't missed it a bit. I don't even know where the remote control is anymore. More productive and interesting things fill those hours now. And the $12/month (or whatever if costs) from the Tivo subscription can be put to some other use.

Probably Skittles.

Posted by jzawodn at April 23, 2004 05:45 PM

Reader Comments
# john said:

jeremy, you should probably check out Mailsmith from Bare Bones Software.

on April 23, 2004 06:26 PM
# jr said:

I'm happy with mail app. It does a creditable job of handling spam. Panther rocks. you will want to update the old system once you are on the new system. It will happen.

on April 23, 2004 06:51 PM
# The Parasite said:

I feel the same way about slashdot as you do about television. I weaned myself from TV about 12 years ago, and have not missed it.

on April 23, 2004 08:32 PM
# Kevin Marks said:

The threading UI in Panther may make you happier with mailing lists again.

on April 23, 2004 09:33 PM
# Dhammapada said:

36. Let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to perceive, very artful, and they rush wherever they list: thoughts well guarded bring happiness.

on April 23, 2004 11:37 PM
# Kalyan said:


You actually managed to go over the curve. I need to move away from pine one of these days.

on April 23, 2004 11:38 PM
# Craig said:

Less time reading email = more time reading blogs :)

on April 24, 2004 02:19 AM
# MUGU said:


on April 24, 2004 04:08 AM
# PJ Doland said: is **much** faster under Panther. The speed increase will blow your mind.

on April 24, 2004 08:02 AM
# Aristotle Pagaltzis said:

You should probably make sure to use a crappy RSS aggregator as well then. :)

on April 24, 2004 05:25 PM
# joat said:

Jeremy, you're much further ahead in the 12-step program than I am. I can't see moving to Panther until at least a year after the kid moves out on his own. I've avoided the issue via some nasty Procmail recipes which push the mailing list traffic to blog entries. Until then, group therapy is my only option.

"Hi. I'm Joat. I'm addicted to e-mail..."

on April 24, 2004 08:33 PM
# Dirk said:

Got rid of TV a while ago too. Email remains a problem, though I'm not subscribed to that many lists. I'll have a look at mutt, thanks for the hint.

Mutt without lots of mailing lists should be pretty productive :)

on April 25, 2004 12:27 AM
# Internet Marketing India said:

Ya !! Exactly

on April 26, 2004 11:07 AM
# Arcterex said:

I just wish would do more than one layer of threading. I really miss the ability to see multiple levels of replies and follow ups that I had in mutt :(

Well, I still have it as all my personal mail is done in mutt and work mail is done in

on April 26, 2004 02:56 PM
# Jens-Christian Fischer said:

For all the stuff on the mailing lists that you don't read (but like to keep for the occasional nugget), try ZoŽ. It acts both as a mail archive and Google for email (some of the features that GMail will bring upon the masses)

I have subscribed to a bunch of lists, but never read them. When I need to know something, I ask ZoŽ and if there was something on a mailing list about a specific thing, I'll find it.

(And of course, I also find all my other stuff)

on April 26, 2004 11:47 PM
# Art said:

This is incredibly old, but maybe someone will google, find the answer, and tell me. :-)

Is there a way to hook the from: address with in the same way you can with Mutt? I have done the same thing, but for the first time, I'm using my PowerBook and for work and personal email, with about four different accounts.

What's slightly embarrassing is that I'll send emails to people at work from my home address, which I never did with "send-hook 'my_hdr'" in mutt.

Anyway, I've looked through the scripting dictionary and nothing leapt out at me, but I'm also not an Applescripter (yet).

on November 11, 2005 10:32 AM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.