E-Mail Survival Guide: Change E-Mail Clients

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Sidebar: What About Eudora?

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Qualcomm’s Eudora 6.1 (   ; January 2004 ) doesn’t appear on our list of recommended e-mail clients. Although Eudora has been a past favorite—particularly for users who need nearly infinite control over their e-mail settings—the e-mail landscape has changed and, regrettably, Eudora has been slow to change with it.

It’s true that Eudora makes quick work of searching massive mailboxes and offers almost limitless ways to customize your mail settings (for example, you can designate which headers will appear in messages sent from a particular account). But for most advanced users, these perks won’t make up for the program’s aging features, including limited filtering options—Eudora provides just two If conditions and four Then actions for sorting messages. It also does a poor job of displaying complex HTML messages. And although Eudora is scriptable, its scripting dictionary is out of date, so the program is more difficult to script than Mail, Entourage, and Mailsmith.

If Eudora suits you, by all means stick with it. But if the program no longer fits the bill and if you need absolute control over your e-mail, I recommend switching to Mailsmith.

Sidebar: Exporting to Standard File Formats

In a computing world rife with incompatible standards, the mbox and vCard file formats offer a rare sliver of sanity. By converting your data into these two cross-platform standards—mbox for e-mail messages and vCard for contacts—you can quickly and easily move much of the information in your e-mail client and address book to other applications, or even to the same application on a different computer.

Here’s how to access mbox and vCard files from Mail, Entourage, Mailsmith, and Eudora.

Creating mbox Files To generate an mbox file from Entourage, Mail, or Mailsmith, just click on one of the program’s mail folders and drag it to your desktop. Repeat this for each folder you want to move. Note that in Entourage, the newly generated mbox file won’t include any of the folder’s subfolders. You’ll have to drag these to the desktop separately.

When you drag Mailsmith’s mailboxes to the desktop, they become text documents by default. To import these files into Mail or Entourage, you must first append the .mbox extension to them.

Eudora doesn’t support this drag-and-drop method. To access its mbox files, open your user folder and go to Documents: Eudora Folder: Mail Folder.

Creating vCards In most cases, creating vCards is also a drag-and-drop affair. To export vCards from Apple’s Address Book—which both Mail and Mailsmith use—just select the contacts you want and drag them to the desktop. You’ll end up with a single file with all the selected contacts.

Unlike Address Book, Entourage won’t export multiple contacts as a single vCard file. So if you plan to export multiple contacts, it’s a good idea to first create a folder to hold all of the resulting vCards.

To export Eudora’s nicknames as vCard files that can be imported into Apple’s Address Book, Entourage, or Mailsmith, use Andreas Amann’s free Eudora vCard Export.

Sidebar: Import Mail from Microsoft Outlook for Windows

When contemplating a move to the Mac, one of the first questions many Windows users ask is “Will I be able to access my old e-mail, contacts, and calendars on my new computer?” Thanks to Outlook2Mac, a $10 program from Little Machines, the answer is yes.

Outlook2Mac painlessly converts Outlook mail to a form that you can import into Mail, Entourage, or Mailsmith. It will also export contact and calendar data to any program that supports the vCard and iCalendar (.ics) file format standards—including Address Book, iCal, and Palm Desktop.

Outlook2Mac is remarkably easy to use. Simply purchase an appropriate version of the program (separate versions are available for Outlook 2002/2003/XP, Outlook 2000, and Outlook 97/98) and launch it. The software then walks you through the process of exporting the needed data. You can select specific mailboxes, a range of calendar dates, and the most appropriate file format for the data export. If you’re moving to Address Book or Palm Desktop, you’ll need to export your Outlook contacts as a single vCard file. Likewise, iCal requires a single .ics file for calendar data. If you’re moving to Entourage, you’ll need to export your data as individual vCard and .ics files. You should also instruct the program to filter out any attachments that won’t work with your Mac—files ending with an .exe extension, for example.

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