MailCall 1.8.1, by Ekim Software
Posted: 20-January-2002

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Ekim Software Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Tom Leahey Class: INTERNET
     
$12   Download

Whatzit?
MailCall is a multi-account background email checking tool. It is a stand-alone background application which provides the ability to status one or many email accounts for new mail, to get a quick glance at the Subjects and Sender info for each new arrival, and to do simple message management (display a message or delete it) external of your primary email application. MailCall is designed to be used alongside regular full-featured Email clients.

I use this application to regularly check the email of all my family's email accounts 24 hours a day -- we've got an always-on broadband cable internet connection. We use multiple email accounts and different email applications, so MailCall provides a one-stop simple solution to periodically monitor the email status of all our accounts, innocuously in the background, and notifies us when we've gotten new email for any of them. Pretty simple, really, but it meets a real need for us, and the price is right.

Installation
The install of MailCall is as simple as uncompressing the StuffIt archive and dragging the resultant folder and it's contents to where ever you'd like it to reside on one of your available disks.

On initial activation, you'll set your account info for each account in the Account Setup dialog. For each account, one enters an Account Name, email server address (& optionally Port number), and that account's email ID and password. If password is left blank, you're prompted for it when running the program. One also specifies whether each email account is accessed by either the POP3 or IMAP protocol.

MailCall's copy protection / shareware-honesty scheme is to limit it's running to 15 minutes at a time (per launch) until it's paid for/registered. Given the basic capabilities of the program, I think it provides for a fairly decent evaluation prior to purchase.

Documentation
MailCall's documentation is minimal but fully adequate, as everything is straightforward and well explained. It consists of 3 text files (ReadMe, Manual and Version History). The Manual is quite good. Kagi-based offline and online registration applications are included. Links for the developer's email and homepage are provided in the ReadMe file.

Operation
Upon initial launch, MailCall switches to the background, and checks each account for 'new mail' on a periodic timer schedule set in it's Preferences. It then resumes it's background status until the next elapsed period, when it awakes and again checks each email account for new messages. I use it as a System Startup Item, set to ring a custom notification chime each time 'new mail' is found in any account, and I use a 10-minute timer, so all my accounts get quasi-real time email message statusing.

The Main Interface is a configurable window (remembers size and position on the desktop) which provides 3 buttons: "Check for Messages" (for manual checking), "Account Setup", and "Preferences" above a Finder-list-view-like display of all identified Email Accounts. Each account has a 'disclosure triangle' next to its name, which, when clicked, causes MailCall to retrieve and 'drop-down' display the Subject & Sender for all the new messages for that account. Two additional buttons, "Read Message" and "Delete Message", also become active when an individual message is selected (one opens a new text-only window with full email header and message displayed, and the other immediately deletes the selected message from the server). The Main window also displays the time of day of the Last Update and the Next Update email check times.

MailCall's Preferences provides 3 tabs to configure the program. The first, Schedule, allows one to set the schedule for checking messages, with looping, continuous looping, check interval, and 'Max. Simultaneous Connections settings. In this tab, one can also specify a Connection Time-out period, and Options for 'Check on Launch', 'Hide on Launch' or 'Don't Hide in Background'. The second Preferences tab, called Notification, enables one to set When and How to be Notified (Chime, Icon Flash in Applications Menu, Pop-up Message with Custom text field). Chime sounds are fully configurable (additional sounds can be placed in the programs "Sounds" folder). The Last Preferences tab, labeled Tools, enables display of the MailCall Tools windoid and sets the Email application to be launched if/when an account in the Main window is double-clicked.

Overall Comments
I like MailCall because it does an excellent job of fulfilling basic email notification duties. It doesn't get in the way, it provides me the ability to configure it to my needs, and it provides the lightweight multi-account email notification capabilities I desire. I've also corresponded with MailCall's author who provides good active support and updates for the product (he's also incorporated a couple of my enhancement requests).

To sum up, I can't say it any better than what I read on MacDownload.com: "It's a godsend for people who use e-mail a lot but don't want to keep a big, RAM-hungry e-mail application open all the time." It's also a godsend for folks who use multiple email clients to access multiple accounts, and for those who want the opportunity to delete SPAM or other unwanted email before actually downloading them with your email client.

Pros

  • Simple, unobtrusive, reliable and speedy
  • Provides handy quick email reader
  • Allows simple manual spam-deletion
  • Supports POP3 & IMAPv4
  • Implements Appearance Manager desktop themes
  • Standalone application (not an extension or control panel)


Cons

  • Sometimes errors out if internet connection is busy with other traffic
  • Doesn't support 'per-account' email application mapping
  • No email send/reply (but, hey, then it's getting to be more than an email notifier)

Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice