An email program might seem like a funny choice for an editor's favorite software pick, but it's not as odd as you'd think. Email evolved long ago from a toy for geeks to a necessary office tool as crucial to my business as my telephone and word processor. Therefore, I require an email client that does what I need it to do, doesn't do too much of what I don't need it to do, and doesn't crash. Eudora, QUALCOMM's 32-bit Windows NT-compatible email client, is such a dependable tool that it's nearly transparent, something I can't always say about other applications I regularly use. Eudora's main benefit, in short, isn't that it has a lot of features uncommon to other email clients but that its features are well implemented, easy to use, and reliable.

QUALCOMM offers its email client in two forms: the freeware Eudora Light version and the commercial Eudora Pro version. Eudora Light is a good program that offers basic email functionality, such as multilevel folders and some filtering. But after a couple of years using Eudora Light, I upgraded to Eudora Pro 4.1 for additional features and expanded capabilities, such as a finer degree of filtering. Besides, Eudora Pro's $39.95 price tag is a bargain to support an alternative to Microsoft Outlook, which I don't like and rarely hear anything good about from Outlook users.

Eudora Pro is best at email's basic functions: mail management, message filtering, alias support, attachment support, ability to work in the background, and spell-checking support.

Palm Beach Mail management. If you're an email pack rat, the last thing you want to do is search through your inbox for a 3-week-old message from someone whose name you don't remember. Eudora Pro simplifies email archiving by supporting multiple levels of user-defined storage folders. When a client I haven't talked to in months calls me to chat about a project, I can quickly move to that client's folder to review our most recent communications. Other useful email-management methods let you visually sort messages even within one mailbox. Eudora Pro automatically assigns cues (e.g., read to opened email), notes priorities, and assigns arrows to messages you've replied to or forwarded. The program lets you define other cues, using six colored-customizable labels.

Message filtering. I get a lot of email. Although I want to look at some of that mail immediately, I want to put some aside until later, and I prefer to keep some mail out of the main inbox altogether. With Eudora Pro's filtering system, you can easily file, prioritize, or respond to email automatically. First, you choose up to two content-based variable types (i.e., sender name, recipient name, message subject, or message contents). Next, you choose as many as four actions to take when you receive a message (i.e., file, label, reply with previously prepared stationery, forward to someone else, or send information from the message to an application). Setting up the filters is easy and involves little guesswork. You simply choose valid options from drop-down lists and provide variables as required, such as application paths and label types. If you want a record of where all your email has gone, simply tell Eudora Pro to create a filter report.

Alias support. Whether you call them aliases, nicknames, or some other term, aliases are invaluable to anyone (such as me) who can't consistently type a long email address. Eudora Pro provides support for handling aliases. If you create an alias without attaching a valid email address, the program informs you when you queue the message.

Attachment support. Email lets you conveniently share files with people around the world. Eudora Pro supports the three most common file formats (i.e., MIME, BinHex, and UUencode), and the program displays an attachment icon next to the messages with attached files. Eudora Pro also creates a hyperlink within the message that lets you open the attached file with one click. You can even do basic file management within Eudora Pro with an NT Explorer-like interface that lets you browse local and network file locations.

Working in the background. One of Eudora Pro's advantages is its ability to connect to the mail server in the background without interrupting your work in Eudora Pro or in another application. If something isn't working properly, you can open the Task Status bar to see the connection's progress, and you can stop the connection manually, if required. A hung connection won't stop you from writing email, and you'll be able to determine at what point the connection failed.

Spell checking. Everyone mistypes now and then. Eudora Pro's spell checker lets me catch typing mistakes before I queue the messages for delivery. To keep the process short and simple, I can choose to spell check only the text of my message and not the text of the message to which I'm replying. I can also choose to spell check only lowercase words, add words that aren't part of an ordinary application dictionary, and customize my options as I do with other applications' spell-checking tools.

Other goodies. Eudora Pro's other features include support for HTML formatting and viewing, support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), and support for multiple email addresses and multiple signature files.

Eudora Pro 4.1
Contact: QUALCOMM * 800-238-3672
Web: http://www.qualcomm.com