|Eudora Pro 6.1, by Qualcomm
This review is performed on a G4 Quicksilver running OS 10.3.4. Although Eudora has a Windows version, it is so different from the Mac version that this review should not be used to analyze the Windows version. Some of the new features added to version 6.0 and 6.1 include Spam Watch junk mail quarantine and Web Words (word or phrase searching over the internet powered by Google). Below is a list of just some of the features of Eudora Pro 6.1.
Once Eudora is installed, you need to establish at least one account (POP or IMAP), and you need to decide in what mode you prefer to use the software. You have three modes to choose from: Paid, Sponsored, and Light. Light mode is similar to the old freeware Eudora Light in that the cost is free, there are no advertisements, and some functionalities are disabled. The Sponsored mode is also free, provides full functionality (except for Spamwatch), but displays a rotating advertisement in a small window. Finally, the Paid version provides full functionaity with no advertisements, but at a price of $39.95. For some, the price may be worth having the advertisements removed, but others may be better off with the Sponsored mode (the advertisements are not too obtrusive). The Paid version also provides you person-to-person technical support and a year of free upgrades.
Setting up your POP or IMAP account is pretty easy with Eudora, provided you already have the information from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Eudora can walk you through the process, or you can simply go into the Preferences and set up the parameters yourself. Once the account information is entered, you're ready to start receiving and sending email.
NOTE: The preferences are available under "Settings" from the "Special" menu (for those long-time users that go there out of habit), as well as under "Preferences" from the "Eudora" menu (for the OS X savvy).
Eudora's interface is intuitive and the most unobtrusive interface I've found in an email client. Most email clients open an "application" window that covers your screen, even when you are not viewing your email. Eudora provides a simple customizable toolbar that can be displayed horizontally at the top of your screen or vertically down the side. There is no application window, so when you are not viewing email or customizing features, your desktop is not covered up when Eudora is in the foreground. Although other email clients let you close the application window, that leaves you with no quick and easy way to access your mailboxes or other email features. Eudora's static toolbar provides easy access all the time.
Customization is a key power of Eudora. As the product has matured over the years, more and more of its features are customizable. Most of these features can be customized through Eudora's "Settings" interface. Eudora Settings is a preference window that has several icons in the left window pane for various types of settings (e.g., Sending Mail, Composing Mail, Font & Display, Styled Text, Toolbar, Hosts, and many more). For example, clicking on the Sending Mail icon allows you to edit your return address, default domain, and SMTP server for your primary (or "default") account. It also provides you checkboxes for "Allow Authorization", "Immediate Send", "Send on check","Use separate thread for sending", "Fix curly quotes", "Keep copies", and "Automatically Fcc to original mailbox". I won't go through all of the settings, as there are far too many to include in a review, but it should be noted that it's really easy to navigate through these settings, and most of the fields are relatively obvious what they are. There are settings for configuring your default account and settings for configuring the genaral appearance and behavior of Eudora (such as reading and sending email, where to store attachments, customizing your toolbar, etc.).
One of the settings options, Personalities, is also available as a separate menu item. Eudora supports multiple personalities, meaning you can read from and send from several different accounts. I use personalities extensively to support all of my different accounts and email addresses, and Eudora allows me to change a personality on-the-fly when sending or replying to email. You have one default personality (the one you use most often), but you can add as many alternate personalities as you like. You can associate different POP and SMTP servers to each personality, as well as reply-to addresses, signatures, stationeries, names, and options for skipping downloads of a certain size or leaving mail on the server.
Other settings provide options for some of Eudora's tools, such Spell Checking, email Statistics, Junk Mail, Address Book, and so on. One of the key things I love about Eudora is the ability to alter and customize just about everything. Eudora supports varying degress of spell checking, allowing you to spell check on the fly, or spell check on sending. Eudora has an interesting tool for viewing email statistics by day, week, month or year (received email, sent email, junk email, etc.). The Junk Mail tool provides a variety of methods for catching SPAM and storing it in your Junk mailbox. With a threshold scale of 0 to 100, I use the default 50 and find it works relatively well. If Eudora doesn't identify an email as SPAM when it is, I can manually specify that the email is SPAM, and this both trains Eudora as well as moves the SPAM to my Junk mailbox. Likewise, I occasionally find an email in my Junk mailbox that is not SPAM, so I tell Eudora that it's not SPAM, and this further trains the SPAM watch as well as moves the email into my In mailbox.
Eudora's Address Book is the simplest address book I've seen in any email client. Clicking on the Address Book toolbar (or choosing it from the menu) immediately pulls up a list of all your addresses. There are different "books" in the address book, but the one I use 99% of the time is the "Eudora Nicknames", the book that I build and maintain. Eudora also has an "OS X Address Book" entry which gives you immediate access to your OS X address book (if you use it). I don't particular care for the OS X Address Book, and especially don't like it's interface for editing addresses. Having this address book accessible from Eudora may have been useful if I could edit the information, but alas, it is read-access only. The other book available is "History", which I occasionally use to view a history of email addresses I've used recently (that aren't already in my Nicknames). Creating and maintaining my Nicknames address book is quite easy in Eudora. You can add a name directly from within the Address Book using the new "Entry" button, and you can also create new entries on-the-fly by using Cmd-K on any email whose sender you want to add to your address book. The address book includes several tabs for entering information for each entry: Personal, Home, Work, Other, Notes, and Photo. The Personal tab is where you put the name and email address. If it's a distribution list, you just enter all of the email addresses, either separated by comma's or on separate lines. If you enter a name for the distribution list, that name is displayed to your recipients instead of all the email addresses (a great way to protect email addresses without having to use BCC). The Home and Work tabs include data fields for addresses, phone numbers, and web links. The Other, Notes, and Photo tabs provide for additional information storage if you so desire, but I never used these tabs. There is a toolbar at the top of the Address Book window that allows you to do a quick swap to other services, such as Directory Services (aka, LDAP), Filters, and Link History (URL's that you've launched from within Eudora). I really like Eudora's address book, so much so that I use it as my contact lookup for phone numbers and addresses, replacing my paper address book.
There are several ways to create an email to send within Eudora. You can click on New Mail, you can click on any of the Email buttons within the Address Book (and it automatically addresses the email to the highlighted entry), or you can use one of several menu options or their keyboard shortcuts. There is the standard New Message, the New Message To> that lets you choose the recipient from a submenu prior to opening the email window, and the New Message With> that lets you choose a stationery to use for sending the email. A stationery can predefine any of the content of the email, such as the subject, the personality, the signature, the priority, the recipient, etc.. Composing the email in Eudora is also very easy and Mac savvy. You can adjust the font, size, color, and style of the text, as well as quoting, unquoting, aligning, indenting, and more. Attachments can be added using the menu or keyboard shortcut, but the easiest way to include an attachment is simply to drag the attachment onto the email you are sending. If you have any of the styled support options on under settings, you can drag pictures directly into your email text and the picture is inserted where you drop it. You have the option to specify text-only, in which case all styles are discarded, and attachments are sent as standard attachments (rather than imbedded). What is wonderful about Eudora, and I really cannot emphasize this enough, is how much of this can be customized, whether you choose to use Styled or Text email, whether you want to have the formatting toolbar on or off, what encoding format to use for sending attachments, where your attachments folder is, whether to use Word Wrap or not, and on and on.
Reading email is even easier than sending email. Depending upon what your settings are, you can have Eudora check several different POP and IMAP accounts at varying intervals. I assign my own custom "You Have Mail" sound that plays every time new mail comes in. Mail is stored in different mailboxes, and Eudora comes with four built-in mailboxes: In, Out, Junk and Trash. The In mailbox is where all mail goes by default (unless you manually transfer email to another mailbox, or use a filter to automatically perform the transfer). The Out mailbox records all email that you've sent. You can have Eudora automatically clear this mailbox when you quit, but I have found it quite useful to be able to go back to sent email up to the last 4 months. Hence, I manually clean this mailbox myself by sorting the mailbox by date, and deleting all email except for the last 4 months or so. When you delete an email, it goes into the Trash mailbox. Like the Out mailbox, the Trash mailbox can be set to automatically clear when you quit, but similar to the Out mailbox, I prefer to manually maintain it myself. You just never know when you might want (or need) to go back to a deleted message. Finally, the Junk mailbox is where email goes that Eudora thinks is SPAM. If you really believe that SpamWatch is working flawlessly, you could create a filter to automatically delete email that lands in this mailbox, but I strongly recommend against doing that. Every once in awhile, I find something pretty important that gets tossed into the Junk mailbox.
Beyond these standard Eudora mailboxes, you can create as many custom mailboxes as you need to help organize your email. Each mailbox displays a list of email, and the list can be sorted by a number of different fields, such as email address, date, or subject, simply by clicking on the column heading. By default, mailbox windows also include a preview pane at the bottom of the window so that when you highlight an email in the list, the first few lines of that email are displayed in the preview pane. Be sure to set the preview mode to "terse" so that you suppress the email headers. Personally, I've never been a fan of email previews, so I always turn this feature off. When I want to see what's in the email, I simply open it up (double-clicking or pressing RETURN will open up the highlighted item in a mailbox list). When opening up an unread email, the email is automatically marked as read, and if you were to delete it, the next unread email is automatically displayed (these options can be changed under Settings). I often use the Cmd-Left-arrow and Cmd-Right-arrow to navigate backwards and forwards through my email. The only complaint I have is that Eudora still does not fully support HTML formatted email. It makes a decent attempt to display it, but it falls short of the way a browser would display it, and sometimes that can be an annoyance. On the other hand, I don't like HTML email, and when I have the option to receive text-only email, I always choose it. I have always believed that web browsers should be used to view HTML, and email clients should be used for viewing transmitted text with attachments (although, admittedly, I do find myself sending imbedded graphics quite often these days, and sometimes I also use stylized text).
Navigating through Eudora email is very simple and quite intuitive. In fact, the entire GUI of Eudora is quite polished and intuitive overall. The only problem with having such a matured, powerful, and intuitive interface is that it makes it difficult to provide improvements on subsequent versions that might compel users to purchase upgrades. I like SpamWatch, but I don't know that it, alone, is worth the price of an upgrade. More interface options to make the GUI look and feel different for different users, perhaps with skins and other theme options, might appeal to more users.
In addition to all of the options available within Eudora's Settings, there are also several hidden features that go beyond the main settings. In the past, there have been 3rd party plug-ins to provides easy access to some of these hidden settings, such as "Adam's Plugin", but I have not seen any new 3rd party plug-ins come out for awhile. Despite the lack of easy access to many of these hidden settings, Eudora does provide a method to change them by way of the "x-eudora-setting" tag (introduced in Eudora 4.2). Simply insert this tag in a new email window, include a settings number, and Eudora turns the tag into a clickable link. Clicking on the link triggers a prompt that allows you to change the settings. For example, if you wanted to change the default LDAP port, you'd have to know that this setting is #10108, open up a new email, enter the text <x-eudora-setting:10108>, and then click on the link.
Of course, it is not obvious what settings are available, or what number one should use for a setting, but Eudora does provide a web page that provides a complete listing of X-Eudora-Settings (there are over 900 settings). The x-eudora-setting tag provides a means to change both common and hidden settings. Some of the settings, such as the LDAP port, should be provided in a standard settings option rather than hidden in the obscure world of x-eudora-settings.
Another strength of
Eudora is that it truly empowers the user. It's not only easier to use than most
other email clients, but it provides functionality that most email clients do not
support. While some of these features may not be useful to all users, some of these
features I simply cannot live without. For instance, I moderate several mailing lists,
and I need the ability to redirect postings to the mailing list once I approve it.
Eudora's "redirect" option is different than forwarding in that it keeps
the original sender on the email. It includes a blurb "by way of" showing
that I redirected it, but even this can be turned off by using the <x-eudora-setting:114>
tag to allow editing the "From" field, and simply deleting the blurb.
In addition to all the powerhouse features, Eudora just works. Whenever I use other
email clients, there's always something that I want it to do that it cannot do, or
some little nuance about the GUI that I find annoying. Using Eudora, it does everything
I need it to do, and does it extremely well. There are still features that I have
yet to tap into.