Although I like Eudora, you can try out a number of other email client programs. I'll try to post most of these programs on ftp.tidbits.com, but some of them may have distribution restrictions, and those you'll have to find at the original sites. Unless commercial (like Emailer) or mentioned otherwise, the following programs are in:
I didn't intend to talk much about email programs that use non-standard protocols, but given Dartmouth College's outstanding record in developing Macintosh software, I should briefly mention BlitzMail. Over 90 percent of Dartmouth's students use email, in large part because of BlitzMail, which reportedly has an excellent interface. BlitzMail also supports Apple events and AppleScript recording, which is still uncommon. I haven't seen it in action, mostly because it requires that you run the BlitzMail server software on a NeXT workstation or a DEC Alpha workstation. I thought this limitation was a little ridiculous, until Jim Matthews, a programmer at Dartmouth and creator of Fetch, told me that in 1993 Dartmouth supported 11,000 email accounts on only five NeXT machines, which is incredible. If you're a system administrator-type and you're interested, you can find more information on BlitzMail at:
I wrote about Claris's forthcoming Emailer back in chapter 12, "Commercial Services," because its most notable feature is its integration of multiple email accounts on the commercial online services. However, as I said previously, Emailer is an excellent program and fully supports Internet email via POP and SMTP. I personally don't feel it's quite as good as Eudora, but it's a very close second. You won't go wrong using it primarily for Internet email. Check back in chapter 12 for more details on Emailer's feature set.
Lee Fyock's $25 shareware, LeeMail, solves one major problem for some users -- it's primarily an SMTP mailer. It's ideal for use with the few Internet access providers, like Demon Internet in the United Kingdom, that use SMTP for sending mail to SLIP and PPP dialup users. That aside, LeeMail is a simple program that sports several nice features such as support for multiple users, aliases, automatically decoded attachments, and audio notifications of new mail. LeeMail can hide its windows when you send it to the background, auto-quote text when replying to messages, and support multiple mailboxes. The current version of LeeMail, 2.0.4, has minimal support for POP, although the documentation admits that it's not ideal as of yet. Lee plans to beef up the POP support in the future.
Although Lund University's MacPost isn't really of interest to the individual looking for email access to the Internet, if you have an AppleTalk network that has access to the Internet already, you may be interested in checking out the MacPost client and server program. The MacPost server runs on a Mac and serves mail to the clients using a proprietary protocol. That's not terribly interesting, but the MacPost server can communicate with an SMTP server as well, thus opening the doors to the Internet for the MacPost clients. Even though the MacPost server uses SMTP, the clients only know how to talk to the server, so you couldn't use a different SMTP client program, such as Eudora. For that, you'd need a POP and SMTP server like MailShare.
The aim of Apple's PowerTalk is to provide mail services to all Macintosh applications and to bring email to the Macintosh desktop. To that end, PowerTalk creates a single mailbox on your desktop. Once PowerTalk is installed, you can exchange email with any other PowerTalk users on your network, or, using specially-written gateways, to users on any other email service. Or at least, that's the idea. PowerTalk suffers from a terribly clumsy interface and the slow arrival of gateways to other services. The main gateway of interest for this book is StarNine's Mail*Link Internet for PowerTalk gateway, which enables PowerTalk to send email to the Internet using SMTP and receive Internet mail using POP. If you do use PowerTalk and have access to SMTP and POP servers via a dedicated connection or SLIP or PPP, Mail*Link Internet is the way to go. For more information, send StarNine email at email@example.com, or call 510-649-4949; 510-548-0393 (fax). You can retrieve a time-limited evaluation copy ($49 to purchase) of Mail*Link Internet for PowerTalk from the following sites -- the Apple site contains a huge archive containing several PowerTalk gateways.
POPmail and Baylor University's MailDrop are the only two email clients for the Mac that support the IMAP (Interactive Mail Access Protocol) protocol for retrieving email. The main difference (as I understand it) between POP and IMAP is that IMAP prefers to store mail on the server, whereas POP prefers to download it to the Mac. Both have their uses in different environments, and as more IMAP sites appear, clients like MailDrop may increase in popularity, although MailDrop is a relatively simple program at the moment. MailDrop is available for non-commercial use, and you can find more information on their Web site.
Created by programmers at the University of Minnesota, POPmail is a free email program that provides much of Eudora's feature set and a few extra features, but without Eudora's clean implementation or the capability to queue messages, which limits POPmail's utility when using a SLIP or PPP connection. POPmail has many nice touches, though, including the capability to resolve URLs found in email messages, a message browser mailbox window with command icons, the capability to create groups of users for simple distribution lists, and support for multiple users through multiple settings files. POPmail sports compatibility with the older POP2 protocol, POP3, and with the newer IMAP protocol, which also stores your incoming email on a host computer until you retrieve it. Most interestingly, if you connect over a slow modem or are expecting a large message, POPmail has a Preview feature that enables you to peruse only the header and first few lines of the file. Other than the complete lack of a queuing system that would enable you to write messages while off-line and send them all at once later, POPmail is a decent application. The interface feels clunky, but nothing to which you couldn't become accustomed.
TechMail was developed at MIT and may be freely distributed. It supports queuing messages, so that you can compose multiple messages off-line and send them later. One neat feature enables you to check your POP mailbox to see how many messages are waiting and how much disk space they take. My main complaints with TechMail are that it feels slow when I'm sending messages. I also think its interface could use some help -- especially in the configuration dialog boxes (where it's never clear what OK and Cancel really do) and in some of the menu names (such as Local for all the stuff dealing with email).
Darald Trinka's VideoMail is more of an experiment for his master's thesis than anything else. It uses audio and video capabilities present in some Macs (luckily for my testing, they're present in my Macintosh 660AV) to create QuickTime movies and to send them to other people via SMTP -- the standard protocol for sending Internet email. When I sent myself a sample movie (you can have just sound or both sound and video), it came into Eudora as an attachment that I then opened in MoviePlayer. VideoMail doesn't attempt to read email or do anything other than create and send these movie messages, and frankly, it does that pretty well. You can either pay $5 for VideoMail, or more probably, fill out Darald's questionnaire instead.
The $165 Z-Mail is a commercial email client from Network Computing Devices. Its main claim to fame is that versions of it run on Windows, Unix, Mac, and even character-based terminals. From what I can tell, Z-Mail has some powerful features such as rule-based filtering, sorting, and searching. Using its Z-Script, you can completely configure how the program works, customize every part of the user interface, and automate repetitive tasks. Z-Mail strikes me as very powerful in the limited use I've given it, but it also feels as though it was ported from Windows or Unix. The interface is confusing and clumsy, and every now and then you even hit a place, such as the Z-Script window, where you type commands. You can download an evaluation copy of Z-Mail, but you must get a demo key from NCD before you can try it out -- email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415/898-8649.