Although a client/server approach to email has several advantages, it’s not without drawbacks. One disadvantage that wastes lots of time is the inability of a POP server to tell you there’s mail waiting. Scott Gruby’s NotifyMail utility, to put it simply, eliminates this problem.
Many users of Eudora, Claris Emailer, StarNine’s PT/Internet POP utility, and other software for accessing POP3 (Post Office Protocol) mail servers have their software configured to check the server periodically to see if new messages have arrived, and if so, to download them. This method of working is inefficient, because new mail doesn’t reach the recipient immediately, and because extra network traffic is created even when there’s no new mail.
With NotifyMail, users of Glenn Anderson’s Mac-based Apple Internet Mail Server (previously MailShare) can receive immediate notification when a new message has arrives. The mail administrator needs only activate the server’s NotifyMail feature (in the Account Information settings for each user) while the user installs and configures NotifyMail on his or her system.
NotifyMail also supports users with shell accounts (with or without POP service) on Unix and VMS systems, and the author provides instructions for using NotifyMail with Unix or VMS.
The software works by waiting for the server to send a standard Finger query to the user’s Mac, to which NotifyMail reacts. NotifyMail can be configured to display a dialog box, make a sound, open Eudora or Emailer, tell the mail client to check for the new message if it’s already open, simply display a mailbox icon, or any combination of the above. The software is most effective for users who have a permanent IP address, but works fairly well even for users whose IP addresses vary each time they connect.
As a side benefit, NotifyMail can act as a Finger server on the user’s Mac, returning custom messages that can include information about the local time and how long the computer has been running or sitting idle. The software isn’t compatible with Peter Lewis’s Daemon (or his older Fingerd server) because both utilities can’t accept Finger connections simultaneously.
NotifyMail 3.0, released this month, runs native on both 680×0 and PowerPC processors, and supports Open Transport on Apple’s latest Power Macs. It adds support for Claris Emailer, TCP/Connect II, and StarNine’s PT/Internet utility; previous versions only supported Eudora. (Eudora 1.4 or later is required in order to take advantage of all of NotifyMail’s abilities.) The software also now supports SLIP and PPP connections.
NotifyMail is shareware ($18) and Scott accepts credit card payments electronically or checks by mail. Site licences are available, as are academic and quantity discounts. We feel anyone using POP mail service who wants automatic notification of new mail should take this software for a test drive.
Scott Gruby <[email protected]>