I’ve been a Eudora user for a long time, and despite the improvement in other email clients over the years, I’ve never been tempted to switch away from Eudora. That’s in part because I grok the program at a deep level; in the parlance of a certain group of die-hard Eudora users, I can "think like Steve." Steve, in this case, is not Steve Jobs (who has expressed disdain for Eudora in the past), but Eudora creator Steve Dorner (who has his own disdain for Apple technologies – for years, typing "Appearance Manager" in a Eudora email message would cause Eudora’s invective identifier MoodWatch to rate the message as likely to cause offense). Steve Dorner is an email purist, and although he’s come around to various modern features, he’s still the guy who allowed users of Eudora 3.0 to toggle a preference called "Waste cycles drawing trendy 3D junk."
That’s why, when I first saw the emoticons feature in the just-released Eudora 6.2, I almost called Steve to make sure he hadn’t been secretly drugged and brainwashed into adding a feature that makes the "trendy 3D junk" of 1996 seem downright subdued. Eudora 6.2’s emoticons feature replaces (only in the local display) 24 standard smiley character combinations (like :-)) with iconic representations. Needless to say, many long-time Eudora users who, even if they didn’t mind the trendy 3D junk way back when, will react with justifiable horror to this wildly misplaced feature. Let’s face it, people who are still using Eudora despite the free and bundled competition from Apple and Microsoft probably like the program’s utilitarian interface and power user features and are uninterested in such silliness. I left the emoticon display on for a while to determine that I really did hate it as much as I thought I would, then I shut it off (in the Font & Display settings panel) and let my mail return to its 9-point Monaco goodness. Maybe I’ve been conditioned to think like Steve for too many years, but little icons littering my mail don’t make it any more fun to read, and they certainly don’t make dealing with the mail any faster. Graphical emoticons don’t bother me as much on the Web, where graphics and text are commonly mixed together, but I don’t want them in my email.
Luckily, as counter to the core philosophy of Eudora as emoticons are, the other new features in Eudora 6.2 are more along the lines of what I know and love about the program. Most important for less-savvy users is ScamWatch, which helps you identify where a link embedded in an HTML-formatted message points by displaying a little yellow tooltip box that shows the real URL. If the real URL looks suspicious to Eudora, either because it points at a numerical IP address or because it doesn’t match the visible URL showing in the message, Eudora notes that fact in the tooltip, and if you click a suspicious URL, Eudora pops up a warning dialog to ensure you realize that the link is deceptive. This feature is subtle but brilliant. Far too many people are being fooled by "phishing" messages that purport to be from PayPal, Citibank, or eBay, and this feature should provide a welcome protection that could prevent the dire consequences of giving a scammer your passwords or personal financial information. In my real world use, since I’m alert to phishing messages, ScamWatch has mostly caught the links in Macworld’s weekly newsletter, since the domain in their visible URLs doesn’t match what I presume is a click-counting service domain that then redirects clicks back to the main Macworld site.
For those of us who have been forced to revamp our mail reading strategies of late, Eudora 6.2 offers another key improvement: Live Search. Many people don’t realize that you can set up and run a search in Eudora, and then choose File > Save to save it in a Saved Searches folder. Once a search is saved, you can invoke it instantly by choosing it from the hierarchical Special > Find menu (and of course, anything you can choose from a menu, you can attach to a toolbar button). With Eudora 6.2, searches are now live, so if you receive new messages while a search results window that would find those messages is open, Eudora automatically adds the new messages to the search results window. I’ll explain how I’ve altered my approach to reading email in another article; suffice to say for now that I’m using a saved search to collect mail from multiple mailboxes into a single window for easy access.
I’m not an IMAP user, so I can’t comment on the effectiveness of Eudora 6.2’s new IMAP capabilities, but they sound good. You can now transfer messages from IMAP mailboxes to local mailboxes even when you’re offline; deleted messages in IMAP mailboxes are immediately removed from view (although you can toggle an option to show them if you wish); and you can now turn on an auto-expunge feature to remove deleted messages from IMAP mailboxes immediately or when the space used by deleted message exceeds some percentage. You can also stick with manual expunging if you prefer.
Lastly, there are a few minor new features that may interest some users. Eudora can now show the number of unread messages on its Dock icon; such a feature is meaningless to me, since I always have tons of unread messages. (However, a nice touch is that the number applies to the frontmost mailbox window; so if you have no unread messages in the In box, but new messages are automatically routed to other folders – such as Junk – you can see immediately if Eudora’s new mail alert sound heralds important mail without bringing the application forward.) Eudora’s SSL handling has improved, and if a new SSL certificate is chained to a trusted root certificate, Eudora will automatically trust the new certificate. For those who spend time in Eudora’s Address Book (not me; I rely almost entirely on nickname auto-completion), there’s now an iChat button with every entry that, when clicked, starts a new chat with the selected person.
Eudora 6.2 is a 6.5 MB download, and it remains available in three modes. Light mode provides a reduced feature set but is free; Sponsored mode offers all of Eudora’s features except SpamWatch (its Bayesian spam filter) for free but displays a small ad window; and Paid mode gives you all of Eudora’s features, technical support, and free upgrades for 12 months. If you paid for Eudora within the last 12 months, Eudora 6.2 is free; if you last paid between 13 and 24 months ago, upgrading costs $40. New copies, or upgrades from versions paid for more than 24 months ago, cost $50.