Imagine the scene: I need to reply to an email, so switch to Outlook and open my work folder. I select the email, and go to hit the ‘Reply’ button. But no. Outlook, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that the menu bar and associated icons will no longer respond. Buttons do not depress, menus do not open. I can change folder, but I can’t click ‘Send and Receive’ or any other email manipulation tool. In the grand scheme of things, Outlook doing annoying things is infinitesimally insignificant. However at this particular moment in time my entire language banks were devoted to producing new phrases with which to describe this once useful POS (piece of software). As Yoda would say: colourful it was; bleach out his mouth, he should.
What to replace it with, though? There is no other major program that combines email/calendar/tasks/address book. I don’t mind paying, providing I’m going to get something good. After a bit of searching it was obvious I’d have to separate the calendar and email programs. Eudora seemed to receive universal praise, so I downloaded it. I’ve tried it before, albeit briefly, and didn’t get on with it. However version 6 just came out so I thought I’d give it another go.
Now it’s a week later, and I thought I’d give you my first impressions.
It’s available in three versions: free, sponsored, or paid. Free is, as you may expect, free, but limited in features; sponsored has nearly the entire feature set but with ads; paid has no ads and a by-all-accounts effective spam filter. Sponsored it was. After installing I fired it up. First impressions were ok. It looked reasonably attractive, although it provided no escape from the ubiquitous beige. As any self-respecting habitual-computerite would, I delved into the options straight away, turning off the annoying beep when email arrives (I’m subscribed to 2 high-traffic mailing lists, so I get something pretty much every minute), setting the server addresses, that kind of thing. The columns weren’t very intuitive at first, but they were easily rearranged. Setting up accounts was slightly tricky, but that’s probably due to it being different from Outlook / OE, which are all I’ve ever used.
I decided to use Eudora for personal emails, but stick with Outlook for business, as I’d rather the former get screwed up than the latter. Importing from Outlook turned out to be a hassle. It would find the emails fine, but there was no option to select which folders you want: it was all or nothing. After copying my personal emails to a separate .pst file they imported ok, but nothing I could do would import the address book. After reading many FAQs I eventually came across Dawn – a freeware address book converter. It copied the email addresses but nothing else. Oh well, it’s a start.
After I’d got it configured how I wanted it, I found an email from Ben, and hit reply. Annoyance No. 1: Eudora adds a ‘you wrote:’ to the top of the recipients info, but doesn’t insert a line feed. So you have to press enter (twice) to put any blank space between the reply and the original text. I’ve yet to find a way around this. It’s possible it’s just me having done something wrong, as nobody else seems to be complaining. Or I could just be fussy. After much reading on the Euroda website, I found that there are about 1,000,000,008 more options available in the eudora.ini file. Many of them, however, aren’t in there already, so you have to find them on the website to add them. You can change the ‘you wrote’ text, but can’t add two line feeds as far as I’m aware.
Other than that, things have gone pretty well.The program starts up in a reasonable amount of time, unlike Outlook – which has been known to take up to a minute on my machine (granted, there are a few more emails to open, but it’s Just Silly sometimes). Eudora also doesn’t hang around in task manager after it’s been closed, receiving all emails but not applying rules so that next time I go to check there are a billion flakes (?) of spam sitting in my inbox. Guess which program does that. But comparisons with stupid quirks aren’t very fair. How does Eudora stand up as a program on its own?
So far, I think it’s pretty good. Not yet great, but getting there.
The filters are extremely powerful and easy to use once you get the hang of the interface.
Multiple signatures are useful, as you can quickly apply a personal or business signature to any given email.
The ‘personality’ system for controlling user accounts seems a little awkward, but it’s not a real problem. The address book is somewhat simplistic – it can’t do birthdays, for example – but it’s not really designed to be a contacts manager.
The UI is generally clear and easy to use, although a couple of screens seem a little amateurish.
There’s a ‘MoodWatch’ system, which tries to allocate chilli peppers to each email based on their offensive content. A couple of group emails, mainly from Mr Wells, have got 2/3 chilli peppers, which means ‘message is probably offensive’; nothing’s yet got 3. You can also configure it to warn you if you’re sending an email it thinks is likely to offend, which could be handy for grounding me during occasional group arguments 🙂
There’s a statistics report, which will show you how much time you’ve spent actually using the program (it doesn’t count idle time), and in what way.
There’s also a label system, which can highlight emails with up to 7 different colours, each with its own message. This is somewhat more powerful than just a flag. Easier to notice, too.
The Half-Life 2 saga that has erupted over the past week has strengthened my resolve to move away from Outlook. I’m not one of those people who thinks every Microsoft product is devil-code – I’d like to see how Linux would stand up to every hacker in the world trying to nuke it – but the fact remains that Outlook / OE are the major targets, so not using them is another level of security. This works the other way, of course. If there’s a bug in Eudora will it be fixed straight away, or will they wait for the next scheduled release? How would they let people know? There’s nothing as simple as Windows/Office Update to fix it for me. In a way it’s less secure than Outlook / OE, because less people are using it so less bugs are being found. Therefore it could take longer for exploited holes to be found and fixed. However I think that the benefits outweigh the potential disadvantages; for now, anyway.
The full version is $49.95 – so £30ish. I’m not paying that just yet, but I may if I continue to get along with it. Now if I could just figure out how to insert line feeds…
Easy to use, one you’ve got to know it.
Free sponsored version has unobtrusive ads
Not Outlook – increased security and less quirkiness
Limited address book
Occasionally unclear UI
Reply line-feed issue
Not Outlook – everything that needs access to addresses/emails is compatible with Outlook. ActivSync and programs that synchronize with mobile phones, for example.