Personal-Info Managers Go Online

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Two new Web sites are enticing Mac users with an array of free services, some of which duplicate features found in simple personal-information-management programs. Magically ( ) and Zcentral ( ) are based on similar concepts, offering free Web-based e-mail, data storage, address books, multiuser calendars, and other services. Both let you exchange documents with other users by placing files in secured folders on FTP servers.

Magically, which offers 5MB of free storage space, provides access to its features through a customizable virtual desktop that includes links to Mac-related Web sites. You also get a Sherlock plug-in for searching e-mail messages and other content. The company earns revenue by offering premium services, such as a $5-per-month MagicalViewer application that lets you view files in a wide variety of formats even if you don't have the host software. You can also pay for additional storage or e-mail accounts.

Zcentral, which earns revenue through advertising and cobranding deals, provides 20MB of free storage space and an address book that automatically updates itself if other registered users change their contact information. Mac Publishing has signed an agreement to offer Zcentral's services through Mac Publishing Web sites, which include Macworld Online,, Mac Central, iMacworld, and MacBuy.

Check out MacCentral's Overview of for more about Web-based desktop systems.

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