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I need to give some tough criticism here. The Mail app in Windows 10 is so unreliable that it really diminishes the perception of reliability for the entire operating system. I have for so long wished that I could write a blog post about the virtues of using it for all the great shell integration, but I can’t.

In theory the Mail app brings all kinds of great enhancements.

  1. See upcoming meetings right from the taskbar clock, add a new meeting and events from there as well.
  2. Pin your favorite email folders to your start menu so you can see unread counts without opening up your mailbox.
  3. Actionable notifications (flag, archive, or delete email right from the notification) just like Office Outlook used to have in the desktop alerts. The rich Outlook client had its notifications neutered and it no longer provides any actions (maybe to encourage users to use Mail app instead?)
  4. Like the Mail app on your phone, it’s always syncing even if it’s not actually “running”.

But the constant problems of the Mail app make it impossible to recommend for actual, real world use. It fails at fundamental desktop actions that have been with us since before Windows was ever even a twinkle in Bill’s eye.

Ah, inbox zero?

If I had a dollar for every time I copied a screen ship, range from Excel, or image from a webpage such as Google Photos, and then was unable to paste into an email message, I’d probably have other 100 dollars by now. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. These are critical parts of my workflows. Copy, paste. I’m sure you use these too.

Small things matter, but so do the essentials.

Lately I’ve found that when I’m unable to paste into Mail I can always run “mspaint.exe” and paste there, then crop, select-all, re-copy back to the clipboard, and then I can paste that into an email message. I don’t know why Paint and read the clipboard but Mail can’t. Of course if it was a range from Excel that means I’m no longer pasting a table and am in fact pasting a bitmap picture of it (not ideal for recipients of my message, but it’s better than nothing). And it’s a huge hassle:

What I should be able to do, every time the first time: What I actually have to do at least once daily:
Ctrl-V to paste Win-R to show Run
mspaint <enter>
Ctrl-V to paste
Crop (Alt-3 thanks to my QAT)
Ctrl-A to select all
Ctrl-C to copy
Alt-F4, N to quit without saving
Alt-Tab to Mail
Ctrl-V to paste

This requires 16 extra keystrokes (and I’m being generous by counting combinations like “Ctrl-A” as a single keystroke). It’s absolutely bonkers.

Why can’t the Mail app paste? Why?

This happens in all channels (dev, beta, release, prod), and it’s not always but it’s certainly frequent enough to be frustrating.

Copy/paste is such a fundamental workflow, one of the oldest “desktop” paradigms of modern computing.

Other issues include the app sometimes just… not rendering any content. You’ll click a message and the reading pane is blank. Restarting the app will usually fix it, but that is not desirable to say the least (and it doesn’t fix the copy/paste issues).

Sometimes the app will simply close/disappear (so, crash) when you try to interact with it (sometimes just restoring it from a minimized state, you’ll see it animate into view then immediately disappear). It was running but crashed while it was suspended.

Or you’ll try to drag-and-drop an email into a folder but the folder list refuses to appear. For this the workaround is to right-click the email and choose “Move” instead.

Other than the clipboard issues which are constant, consistent, and reproducible… the reliability is a lesser concern. Most of the time it does render content or restore into view without crashing. But the frequently of which it does just destroys the perception of it, Windows 10, and for many, the entire class of UWP apps.

If you mention to anyone that you actually use the Mail app, consumers and professionals alike will mock and ridicule you. And having the full rich Outlook client stripped of features ostensibly now provided by Mail is really adding insult to productivity injury.

By all means file feedback about the issues. Heavens knows I have, and that the Feedback Hub is absolutely full of users reporting the same problems. But for all this my only suggestion can be: use something else. Open Outlook.com, Gmail.com, whatever you use in your browser, then faux-install it as a PWA. If your mail provider and your browser’s stars align, you may even still receive offline access and push notifications (sorry no other modern shell integrations).

Maybe Microsoft would prefer us to just PWA-install our webmail, or upgrade to full Outlook in Office 365. And while Windows has previously shipped with no email client at all in the case of Windows 7, at least in years past the default email app could handle the basics, and really we have to start from there.