Eudora Pro 4.2 Continues to Deliver, Part 2
Last week we looked at two main features in Eudora Pro 4.2 (see "Eudora Pro 4.2 Continues to Deliver, Part 1" in TidBITS-488); this week we’ll look at other features with strong appeal for specific sets of users. Before that, a few quick comments.
First, I want to share my user dictionary, so Eudora’s spelling checker can know about far more words, including many Macintosh product names. I’ve built up this dictionary from over 10 years of using Nisus Writer and writing TidBITS, and Eudora author Steve Dorner kindly converted it to a "hashed" format Eudora uses more efficiently than a plain text dictionary. Just download this file, debinhex it, put it in the Spelling Dictionaries folder in your Eudora Stuff folder, and relaunch Eudora.
Second, some users of 68K Macs have complained about crashes using Eudora 4.2.1. From what Qualcomm has been able to determine, the problem is related to the presence of OpenTransportLib.68K in the Extensions folder, even though the user is using Open Transport 1.1.2. OpenTransportLib.68K is reportedly incompatible with Open Transport 1.1.2 and should be deleted. To determine your version of Open Transport, open the TCP/IP control panel, choose User Mode from the Edit menu, and switch into Advanced user mode. Then click the Info button that appears in the TCP/IP control panel.
Getting a Preview — With Eudora Pro 4.2, you can choose to display a message preview pane for each mailbox independently by clicking the disclosure triangle in the lower-left corner of the mailbox window. I like having the choice of using the preview pane, because I’ve found that I dislike it for mailboxes in which I delete or file most messages, whereas I find it useful for mailboxes where I save most messages.
Navigating a mailbox with a visible preview pane can take some effort. The Tab key shifts focus from the tabular message summaries to the message preview pane and back; you can also click to switch focus. For instance, if you press the up arrow key while focused on the summaries, you’ll move between messages. But if you’re focused on the preview, the arrow keys move you around in the message text. The same applies to other navigation keys. The Spacebar shortcut for scrolling through messages works no matter which pane has focus.
Speak and Be Heard — Eudora Pro 4.2 can read email out loud using the default voice in your Speech control panel. Just select one or more messages in a mailbox, and choose Speak from the Edit menu. Eudora reads each message in turn, saying "Next Message" between messages. If a message contains quoted text, Eudora says "quote" when it starts reading the quoted text (which it does in a higher voice) and "unquote" when it finishes. Pressing Command-period halts Eudora’s speech. I haven’t yet found a use for spoken email, but it’s easy to imagine uses for the feature, such as having a PowerBook speak your mail while you commute to work, and I’m sure folks with visual impairments will appreciate it.
Also new is the new Speak filter action, which instructs Eudora to inform you verbally when an incoming message matches a filter. Eudora can speak the name of the sender, the subject of the message, or both. You can also pick a voice for each filter.
Finding Your Way with IMAP — Under the hood, one of the most requested features of Eudora Pro 4.2 is its support for IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). Most people use POP (Post Office Protocol) to receive email; IMAP is an alternative method that’s popular in education and some businesses. The primary conceptual difference between POP and IMAP is that POP assumes that you’ll want to store your mail on your Macintosh, whereas IMAP assumes that you’ll want it stored on the mail server. Both protocols support the other method of working, so you can leave mail on the server with POP and store mail locally with IMAP. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, but most organizations support only one or the other, so Eudora’s addition of IMAP makes it a possibility for people in IMAP-only environments. Eudora can use either method on a personality-by-personality basis, enabling users to manage both POP and IMAP mail within Eudora Pro.
Unfortunately, I know little about using Eudora Pro with IMAP, since I haven’t yet set up an IMAP server with which I can test Eudora’s IMAP capabilities. Eudora Pro 4.2 ships with an Acrobat PDF document detailing its new features, including IMAP support. You can also learn more about it at Qualcomm’s IMAP FAQ.
Gently Down the Stream — Tired of hard line breaks in email and ugly replies where quote characters make lines break badly? A new proposed Internet standard that Eudora Pro 4.2 supports might help. Called "format=flowed," the proposal enables email clients to reflow any paragraph, even angle-bracket quoted paragraphs, to match the window size. This normally poses problems with replies because it scatters angle brackets throughout the text; Eudora instead uses vertical excerpt bars along the left edge of the text to demarcate the quoted material, while still allowing it to flow to the window size. The excerpt bars are purely cosmetic, and when the messages are sent out, Eudora transparently adds the appropriate angle brackets in front of the quoted text. Initially, I was dubious about excerpt bars, but they make editing quoted text much easier. And if you copy quoted text out of Eudora, you don’t have to remove angle brackets when you paste into another program.
Previous versions of Eudora used excerpt bars for quoting styled text, and editing around those bars was difficult. However, Qualcomm has vastly improved the editing behaviors, and I now prefer excerpt bars to normal quote characters. For instance, to insert new text between quoted paragraphs, you just place your insertion point in the right location and press Return; Eudora inserts the proper number of blank lines and positions the insertion point correctly. You can also now easily quote and unquote text using Command-‘ and Command-Option-‘; note that the keyboard shortcut for pasting quoted text is now Command-Option-V.
Diving to the Depths — Eudora has always been a deep program, and Eudora Pro 4.2 continues to add small features and behaviors that make a huge difference to some individuals. In the past, you had to use ResEdit or AppleScript to adjust these features or behaviors, but Qualcomm added a new method – the <x-eudora-setting> URL – to Eudora Pro 4.2 that makes these tweaky features more accessible. The <x-eudora-setting> URLs take a setting number and an optional value. When you double-click (or Command-click) an <x-eudora-setting> URL in Eudora, Eudora displays a dialog box about the setting and lets you change the current value. If a value is included in the URL, it appears in the dialog box; otherwise you must enter one.
This approach might sound awkward, but remember that it’s for sophisticated users; normal users never need to see or modify most settings in this way. The point of <x-eudora-setting> URLs is that you can send one to someone via email and that person can change Eudora’s behavior merely by double-clicking the URL and confirming the change. In fact, <x-eudora-setting> URLs work for all of Eudora’s settings, even ones normally available in Eudora’s Settings dialog box. Qualcomm has made a list of these URLs available; download it as a text file (you can’t normally click <x-eudora-setting> URLs in Web browsers) and open it in Eudora to see all the URLs with brief descriptions. Some browsers handle this file better than others; you may have to download it to your desktop or attempt to save it as HTML source for it to display properly in Eudora.
One piece of advice: Before asking a "Can Eudora do…" question, use Eudora’s Find command to look through the list of <x-eudora-setting> URLs for entries that might solve your problem. Many complaints I’ve seen so far have been answerable with a single URL.
As an example of how these <x-eudora-setting> URLs work, I noted last week that you can change the color and style of misspelled words. Let’s say you wanted them to be pink and italic instead of red and underlined. If you’re reading this in Eudora Pro 4.2, double-click both of the URLs below. You have to quit and relaunch Eudora for the style change to take effect; the color change is immediate. (You can’t set the color of the underline separately from the color of the text.)
Other neat features in Eudora Pro 4.2 can be accessed via <x-eudora-setting> URLs. Here are a few of my favorites:
You can double-click a URL to open it in the appropriate program. But, with the setting below, you can Command-click a URL to open it in the background without switching out of Eudora. It’s a great way to open a bunch of URLs from TidBITS for browsing after reading the issue. You can also Command-click partial URLs like www.tidbits.com and ftp.tidbits.com and Eudora will try to open them in the appropriate helper application. And, although this isn’t new, you can Command-click email addresses to create a new message addressed to that person.
If something crashes while you’re writing a message, you can lose a fair amount of work. Eudora has an auto-save function, though it’s not turned on by default. Double-click this URL to make Eudora save messages every 120 seconds.
The default settings for the size of the preview panes may not work well with larger monitors. The first URL below sets the default size of the preview pane, in number of lines, and the second one sets the minimum number of lines for either the preview pane or the summary pane. Play with different numbers for these settings and see what works best for you.
Although Eudora allows spaces in nicknames, Eudora still tries to replace spaces with underscores when you’re creating nicknames. You can override that behavior with this URL. Double-click it, and in the dialog box change the third character from an underscore to a space.
If you dislike the new format=flowed display of excerpt bars rather than angle brackets after giving it a chance, you can revert by double-clicking this URL.
Discussion Rampant — The TidBITS Talk discussions of various aspects of Eudora have ranged far and wide, with numerous people weighing in on the bits of Eudora they like or dislike. Eudora being the program that it is, people posting complaints about how Eudora does something have often received tips on how Eudora can in fact meet their needs; check out the various threads relating to Eudora and you may learn even more about this deep program.