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Mail (aka or Apple Mail) is an e-mail program included with Apple Inc.marker's Mac OS X operating system. Originally developed by NeXT as NeXTMail, a part of their Nextstep operating system, it was adapted, following Apple's acquisition of NeXT, to become OS X's Mail application.Mail uses the SMTP, POP3, and IMAP protocols, and supports Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, GMail, MobileMe and Exchange via IMAP. The iPhone OS features a mobile version of Apple Mail with added ActiveSync support. Starting with the version shipped with Mac OS X v10.6, Mail has full Microsoft Exchange Server support.


Mail 3, with WideMail plugin installed.
Mail's first incarnation was as NeXTMail, the mail application for the NEXTSTEP operating system. NeXTMail was innovative for its time, supporting rich text formatting with images, and voice messaging. It also supported MIME emails, along with plain text, to allow for backward compatibility. The default message found when the user first opened NeXTMail included a voice recording of Steve Jobs.

When Apple began to adapt NeXTSTEP to become Mac OS X, both the operating system and the application went through various stages. In a beta version of OS X, known as the code-name "Rhapsody," and various other early pre-releases of Mac OS X, Mail was known as MailViewer. However, with the third developer release of Mac OS X, Mail had returned to being simply known as Mail.

Version 1

Included in all versions of Mac OS X up to Mac OS X v10.3, was integrated with other Apple applications such as Address Book, iChat, and iCal. Some of its features include rules for mailboxes, junk mail filtering and multiple account management.

Version 2

Introduced with Mac OS X v10.4 "Tiger" on April 29 2005, messages are stored in a proprietary single message-per-file format (with file format extension .emlx) in order to permit indexing by Spotlight.

Some of the new features in Version 2 included:
  • "Smart mailboxes" using Spotlight technology to sort mail into folders.
  • The ability to flag messages with a low, normal or high priority and to use these priorities in mail rules and smart mailboxes.
  • Tools for resizing photos before they are sent (to avoid too-big e-mail attachments).
  • The ability to view e-mailed pictures as a full-screen slideshow.
  • Parental controls to specify who is allowed to send e-mail to children.
  • HTML message composition.

Version 3

A Mail compose window, displaying the "Get well" stationery template.
Introduced with Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard, it now includes personalized stationery which is handled in standard HTML format. Mail 3 offers Notes and To-dos which can be synced with iCal and it also introduced a built-in RSS reader. Mail 3 also introduced IMAP IDLE support.

Version 4

Introduced with Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard. Mail has gained Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 support, as have iCal and Address Book.


  1. Apple - Mac OS X Leopard - Features - Mail
  2. Apple - Mac OS X Snow Leopard - Features - Mail
  3. Apple - Mac OS X Snow Leopard - Exchange support out of the Box

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