Apple Mail does not play well with AOL webmail

Dizzler

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 28, 2009
119
1
I've been using AOL's webmail on my Mac for over 10 years and have had no problems with it until I got my iPhone about 3 years ago. Then I decided to use Apple's Mail.app on both my desktop Mac and my iPhone but couldn’t get them to behave the same way.

So far, I have had nothing but frustration trying to convert from AOL's IMAP webmail to Apple's Mail.app. The folders do not line up: the root folders are named differently on Mail than they are on AOL webmail. The actions I perform produce differing results depending on whether I am using webmail or Apple Mail. I can add any number of folders myself, but the root folders are fixed. Apple's Mail imports these folders but gives them different names and behaviors. For instance, AOL webmail does not have a trash folder at the root level, Apple Mail does. AOL has a "Recently Deleted" folder. Mail does not. I can't tell which operation to perform in Apple Mail to get the corresponding action in in AOL webmail. (This is important because I can't afford to lose anything because I clicked on the wrong operation.) So far I am hopelessly confused. This is why I don't use Apple's Mail application.

So my workaround has been to continue using webmail on both the desktop and the iPhone. This was not a great solution because the web page text in Safari is so tiny and impossible to read, even if I enlarge the page.

Am I the only person out there who is having problems reconciling these two apps? Is there a solution?
 

Dizzler

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 28, 2009
119
1
Ditching AOL is the best solution.
Sorry. Not an option. Have had this email address for 20+ years and it would take too long to undo it.

The other issue is that I really don't like the way Apple's Mail app works. Apple designs great operating systems and great hardware, but their software is lousy. I guess I'll just limp along using webmail until I die.

Edit: perhaps I did not make my case clearly above. I actually prefer AOL webmail, but not on my phone. I just can't get them both to behave the same way.
 
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cvaldes

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2006
3,237
0
somewhere else
Stick with AOL webmail.

Apple's Mail.app is designed to be a general POP3/IMAP mail client designed to work with a large variety of mail services. It's not designed to be client specific to a particular service, not will it be able to cover all of the proprietary webmail features of a given service.

And it's not supposed to be that way. Individual webmail services have different user interfaces, shortcuts, features, etc. that aren't duplicated by other services and sometimes, not even in other iterations of the same webmail service, whether it be button placement, UI behavior, server behavior, keyboard shortcuts.

AOL 6.0 webmail isn't the same as AOL Phoenix.

And Yahoo? They have three main versions of Yahoo! Mail: the default one (formerly Beta), Mail Classic, and a special tablet version. Worse, there are different widgets for My Yahoo! as well.

There's really no way to get a general-purpose standalone mail client to behave exactly like a given webmail service. That's not the point of such an application; it's not Apple's responsibility to make Apple Mail act exactly like AOL webmail.

On my Mac, I have four mail services configured with my Mail application (three are Yahoo, Gmail, AOL). The user interface is exactly the same for all four if I access them via the standalone application. If access each service via webmail, it's a morass of different user interfaces, etc. It's way harder to switch between webmail interfaces than accessing all via IMAP/POP3.

Contact management? That's even worse between various webmail services. None of the user interfaces are remotely similar.

Webmail works best when you are exclusively using one service.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't care for webmail. I look at webmail providers as dumb pipes. I just need an IMAP inbox for incoming messages (and spam filtering) and mail storage, plus an SMTP server for outgoing messages.

The main instance I use webmail is to control server-based message filtering.

I will point out that AOL's actual IMAP service is great. AOL's backend services have typically been really robust, but I'd never ever willingly use their front-end user interface, especially one running in a web browser.
 
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Dizzler

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 28, 2009
119
1
Thanks, cvaldes, for your most thoughtful response: a very clear explanation. I think I will stay with webmail. At least it looks the same on everything I use. It does limit the usefulness of my iPhone, but I've been limited like that for 3 years and can continue indefinitely if I have to. Mail just isn't what Apple says it is.
 

cvaldes

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2006
3,237
0
somewhere else
Oh, on the contrary, Mail is very much the way Apple intends.

It's supposed to be very simple. There are third-party mail readers that let users have more control.

Mail.app is deliberately simple on OS X, even more so on the iPhone. Increasing UI options increases complexity and risks increasing distraction.

One of the most brilliant things about iOS Mail is the fact that I don't see how many spam messages I have unless I actually go to the Bulk Mail folder. I know I have spam, just don't keep reminding me how much. It's very low on my mail priorities unless I think I'm missing an anticipated message.

Plus, no ads, no "rich media"/news items, etc. in a standalone Mail client. Webmail pounds distractions into your face until your eyeballs go bloodshot.

Enjoy webmail. I'll continue to enjoy using OS X Mail and iOS Mail. They are superb in their simplicity.
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,650
28
USA
I've been using AOL's webmail on my Mac for over 10 years and have had no problems with it until I got my iPhone about 3 years ago. Then I decided to use Apple's Mail.app on both my desktop Mac and my iPhone but couldn’t get them to behave the same way.

...

Am I the only person out there who is having problems reconciling these two apps? Is there a solution?
I have had an AOL account since 1992. I stopped paying for it years ago. I added it to Mail as an IMAP account several years after that. When I purchased an iPhone, I added my AOL account to my iPhone. AOL mail just worked with Mail on my Macs back then. It just worked on my iPhone. AOL mail continues to just work in Mail on all of my Macs. It continues to just work on my iPhone and iPad.

So the question is: "What exactly is the problem?"