My latest book, Eudora for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide (Peachpit Press, ISBN 0-201-69663-0, $16.95) has just become available, and I thought I’d celebrate the event by passing on some of the information I learned in the process of writing the book. Qualcomm claims that 18 million people use Eudora for email; if my experiences with many friends and relatives who use Eudora is indicative, vast numbers of people aren’t taking full advantage of the power in the latest versions of Eudora 3.x.
The tips below run the gamut from those that will primarily interest a beginner or someone who hasn’t explored Eudora’s numerous settings to those I’m confident that few Eudora users know or use. I lack the space here to step through exactly how to perform some of these tasks; more complete instructions exist in the book, which, like all of Peachpit Press’s Visual QuickStart Guides, provides numbered steps accompanied by screenshots and detailed captions. Also, Eudora is completely cross-platform, so the tips generally apply to both the Mac and Windows versions, although a few are Mac-only.
I’ve also created a Web page that contains Eudora news (new releases, public betas, that sort of thing); Eudora tips (straight from the book); links to useful Eudora resources on the Internet, and additional information about the book, including an abridged version in Acrobat format. Set a bookmark to check the page periodically for the latest in news and tips.
Efficient Sending — By default, Eudora comes set to send an email message immediately after you finish writing it. This behavior may not bother people who have permanent Internet connections, but it’s a massive waste of time for those who connect to the Internet via modem. The reason for this default is that novice users could otherwise easily queue messages for delivery, believing they had been sent, but fail to send them.
The solution to this problem is to turn off the Immediate send checkbox in the Sending Mail settings panel, and while you’re there, turn on the Send on Check checkbox. Once you do that, all outgoing message are queued in your Out box and sent the next time you check to see if you have new mail.
For those with permanent Internet connections who send messages immediately, let me suggest that you should queue messages anyway because you never know when you’ll want to take back something you said in a message. If you queue messages for later sending, you have a chance to edit your words later. I make changes in queued messages several times a day.
Keep Copies — While I’m talking about sending messages, let me encourage you to check the Keep copies checkbox in the Sending Mail settings panel. That setting makes Eudora keep copies of outgoing messages in your Out box after they’ve been sent. (The status of the message changes from Queued to Sent.) I can’t tell you how useful it’s been to be able to go back into my archive of outgoing messages and see what I said weeks, months, or even years later. Actually, I can tell you – in a couple of cases, it’s saved my bacon.
I send a lot of email – between 1,000 and 1,500 messages each month. My Out box would overflow quickly unless I moved messages out of it on a regular basis, so at the beginning of every month I transfer the previous month’s sent messages to another mailbox. I’ve been doing this for years, and it has proven to be a useful method of documenting my business and personal lives, without the trouble of keeping a diary.
Create & Find Filters — I consider filters an essential feature of an email program, and if you don’t use filters, let me encourage you to try them (choose Filtering Messages from the Help menu for more information if you’ve never tried Filters before). In Eudora, the simplest filter transfers messages to another mailbox – if you subscribe to mailing lists, you can keep your In box uncluttered by filtering messages from a list to another mailbox. Look at the headers to find text that’s common to all messages from the list, usually the From line or a recipient that would be caught by Any Recipient.
Eudora Light’s filters are somewhat limited. You can change the priority and subject of a message and copy or transfer the message to another mailbox. Eudora Pro offers more options, including the capability to open messages or mailboxes; forward, redirect, or reply to a message; play sounds; and even change personalities. This last action has proven useful recently; with the launch of NetBITS, our mail server now receives mail for both <[email protected]> and <[email protected]>. I have Eudora Pro look for all messages to <[email protected]> and set them to a NetBITS personality so my replies appear to come from that address as well, rather than my primary address of <[email protected]>.
(For those that haven’t seen Eudora Pro, personalities enable you to check for mail at multiple Internet accounts and reply using those addresses. Most people don’t need multiple email personalities; those of us that do can’t imagine not having them.)
Once you have a lot of filters – as you will if you subscribe to numerous mailing lists or attempt to create filters to catch spam – finding any given one to edit it proves difficult. In the Mac versions of Eudora, however, you can use the Find feature within the Filters window. Just open the Filters window, then open the Find window and perform a Find for some text in the filter.
Use Redirect — Far too few people understand or use Eudora’s Redirect feature, which is a godsend to anyone who uses Eudora for business purposes. Sooner or later you’ll receive a message that should be handled by a co-worker. In a normal email program, you would forward the message to that person, who would receive a message from you containing the original message. In Eudora, however, you’d redirect the message to your co-worker, who would then receive the message from the original sender with a little (by way of) tag added to the From line to make it clear that you had sent it along.
When your co-worker replies to the message, the reply goes to the original sender, not to you. Your co-worker doesn’t have to search for the original sender’s address and copy and paste it into a new reply – redirects are functionally equivalent to receiving a message directly. As an example of the utility of this feature, imagine our situation. After every issue of TidBITS or NetBITS, we receive tens or hundreds of messages at our editors address. One person sorts through them, rapidly redirecting them to the appropriate person on the staff, or if necessary, the author of an article. We take advantage of a setting in Eudora’s Miscellaneous settings panel that turns on Turbo Redirect by default – when you choose a recipient from the hierarchical Turbo Redirect menu, Eudora redirects the message to that person, closes the message window, and moves the original message to the Trash.
Finding & Searching — The Mac versions of Eudora suffer from an overly ambitious search feature (the Windows versions are less capable, but also less complex), which confuses most Eudora users I know. Here’s the trick. First, there is a difference between finding, which takes place within a single message, and searching, which takes place across messages. Second, Eudora cares deeply about the "starting point" for the search and displays what it thinks the starting point is in the Find window, between VCR-style buttons that enable you to change the starting point. When you first open the Find window, the currently selected message becomes the starting point. However, you shouldn’t assume that the selected message in the frontmost mailbox will always be the starting point – it won’t. I’ve found that it’s safest to ignore any open mailboxes and instead click the Choose button, then select a mailbox from the Mailboxes menu to set the starting point manually. Once you’ve done that, you can click one of the three search buttons to search the mailbox that contains the starting point, the mailbox folder that contains the mailbox containing the starting point, or all mailboxes until the end (but not cycling around, as the Windows version does).
Although Eudora’s searching is extremely fast, it’s too linear. Instead of finding a message and displaying it, then forcing you to search again for the next one that matches, Eudora should present a mailbox of found messages so you can quickly scan them and see which one contains the information you want. You should also be able to sort that found mailbox in all the ways you can normally, including such great shortcuts as Option-clicking a cell in a mailbox to select all messages that share the same cell contents for that column. It’s a great way to select all the messages from a certain person, or of a certain size, or with certain subject, for instance, without sorting the entire mailbox.
Controlling Your Modem — When it was more common for ISPs to charge by the hour, people always wanted to know how they could get Eudora to hang up the modem after sending and receiving mail. I used to explain that it wasn’t that simple, since Eudora was an email program and knew nothing about the status of the Internet connection, which could have been established in one of many ways.
Now, however, Eudora can hang up when done, with a number of caveats. First, you must be using MacSLIP or OT/PPP. Second, Eudora must have caused the connection to be opened to be able to close it. The necessary checkboxes to control this behavior are located in the OT/PPP and MacSLIP settings panel. Just set the checkboxes as desired to have Eudora avoid automatic checks if not connected and disconnect MacSLIP or OT/PPP if Eudora caused the connection.
Send Email Reminders — One of the ways that I’ve hit upon for reminding both myself and others of events or to-do items well in the future is email. Tonya and I share a networked calendar program, but email sometimes works better than a flashing reminder, and of course, my calendar can’t remind others of things I want them to do or remember.
Eudora has an elegant solution to this problem – scheduled email. Most of the time when you queue a message for later sending, you want it sent the next time Eudora connects. However, you can also ask Eudora to send the message at a specified later date and time. That’s useful, because if you just sent yourself or someone else a reminder a month early, it’s essentially useless. You want that reminder appearing a day or so ahead of time.
To do this, Option-click the Queue button in the message window or press Command-Option-E to queue the message. Eudora displays a dialog box where you set the time the message will be sent, and the message will sit quietly in your Out mailbox until your specified time. However, Eudora won’t automatically connect at that time; the message will be sent during the next connection that takes place after the specified time. I recommend always allowing a day or so more time than would otherwise be strictly necessary.
Glossary — Although I’m sure it’s not unknown, none of my friends – even those who have used Eudora heavily for years – have realized that Eudora sports a glossary feature, just like a word processor. It’s a bit more obvious once you put a few facts together.
Fact 1: Eudora has an Address Book, into which you enter a nickname and the full email address that it expands to when a message is sent. The address pane in the Address Book window can contain most characters (there seem to be a few, like the double quote, that aren’t allowed; spaces after semicolons disappear; and commas are replaced by Returns, but only in the Address Book window), and you can type quite a bit of text in there.
Fact 2: Eudora allows you expand nicknames manually. There’s no need to do this most of the time when working with email addresses (unless you want to double-check which address goes with a specific nickname, which I sometimes do), but the feature exists nonetheless.
Fact 3: You can type and expand nicknames in any part of one of Eudora’s message windows, including the body pane.
I hope you see where I’m going now. To create a glossary entry, you create a new nickname in the Address Book with the text you want the entry to contain in the Address(es) field. Then, in the body of the message, you type the nickname, press Option and choose Finish & Expand Address Book Entry from the Edit menu or press Command-Option-Comma.
Aside from the few characters you can’t include in the replacement text, the other liability is that you must empty the "Domain to add to unqualified domain names" field in the Sending Mail settings panel. Otherwise, Eudora happily appends that domain to the first word in your replacement text, as in "[email protected] is a test." Also, leave the Name field in the address book blank or it will also be inserted with your replacement text.
So, even if you don’t have or want to run a separate utility that enables you to insert stock text in messages easily, you can take advantage of the flexibility built into Eudora’s Address Book to achieve the same functionality. I use it for things like my snail mail address and a few other bits that I hate typing manually.
Final Shameless Request — I’ll be honest. I write books because I want to help people, but the only way they can help many people is if they sell well. With the massive glut of Internet books, that won’t happen unless you lend me your support. If I’ve helped you directly, as I have the many thousands of people who write in with questions, or indirectly, via seven and a half years of producing TidBITS or the now-defunct Internet Starter Kit books, here’s how you can return the favor.
First, if you use Eudora, consider buying the book at your favorite bookstore or the link below. I’m positive you’ll find it useful. Second, if you do find the book helpful, recommend it to friends and colleagues, and ask local bookstores to carry it. That’s of immeasurable value. Third, if you know of large businesses or educational institutions that site license Eudora, please let me know at <[email protected]>. A recent study reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education noted that a third of college campuses rely on email today, and that the number one problem remained user support. I think this book, with its clear, step-by-step instructions for every common task in Eudora, one per page, can help address that user support problem.
Finally, unlike my beefy Internet Starter Kit books, this Eudora VQS is a slim 200 pages, so it’s light enough to bring to Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January. If you can help in any of the above ways and are going to the show, please find me there so I can express my gratitude and sign your copy of the book. I’ll certainly be at the Peachpit booth at various times and at the Netter’s Dinner, so I should be easy to find.