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Hands-on with Mail 9 in El Capitan: Improved full-screen support, swipe gestures, and more

Peter Cohen | Aug. 3, 2015
Mail is one of those apps most of us take for granted. It's one of the first apps we configure when setting up a Mac. In El Capitan, that foundational app experience is the same--what's more, Apple has introduced big improvements to Mail 9 that make it easier to work on and do more with your messages.

Mail 9 helps to provide more actionable intelligence even faster. It doesn't take long for muscle memory to kick in: Before you know it, you'll automatically check that spot in the message for action items. Grouping calendar and contact actions together gives you a bullseye to see where you need to be, at what time, and with whom.

Other changes

Apple emphasizes natural language search in El Capitan beginning with Spotlight, OS X's system-wide search function. You look for a file the same way you would if you were using Siri, in your own words. Natural language search isn't limited only to Spotlight. It's come to Mail's search functionality, too.

Expect to spend less time fighting with Mail search function to get the results you want. Just write, "Show me emails with 'El Capitan' in the subject line" and expect to get what you asked for.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is one of the most popular ways to access email. It's how iCloud and many other popular email services work. Apple has shored up the IMAP support in Mail with a new engine that it says is up to twice as fast on setup.

What's more, Mail 9 better prioritizes message downloads that you're currently viewing. You spend less time waiting for Mail to synchronize your messages before you can read them. This is particularly helpful if you're stuck with a slower connection to the Internet: Wi-Fi on airplanes can get Mail 8 (Yosemite) spinning as it tries to synchronize your inbox. Some public hotspots and even some cell data networks sometimes can cause trouble for Mail 8.

Mail 9 exemplifies a design philosophy often reiterated in Apple's products: A conscious effort on Apple's part to get the interface out of your way. With improved data detectors, more effortless full-screen support, improved IMAP performance and the addition of iOS-like gestures, Apple's making it that much easier for you to do things with email, instead of just reading it.


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