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Software Bargains: Stay in Touch

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From Address Book to iCal to an army of e-mail clients, the Mac platform offers plenty of ways to keep in touch. Mac developers offer plenty of tools of their own for getting the most out of those communication tools. Here are ten low-cost options for improving your Mac’s communication skills.

AddressBook to CSV 1.1

  ; Ken Ferry; free

This single-purpose program exports your Address Book contacts as a CSV (comma-separated values) file, which you can then import into Gmail, Google’s new Web-based e-mail service. AddressBook to CSV is fast and efficient. It breaks up contacts with multiple e-mail addresses into separate Gmail contacts (one for each address). I wish only that it gave you a visual indication when it completed the job.—KELLY LUNSFORD

Book2Pod 1.2

  ; Tom Sutcliffe; free

If you’ve ever tried to use your iPod’s Notes feature to read text documents on-the-go, you’ve likely discovered that each note has a small size limit (4K, to be exact). To view a larger document, you need to split it into smaller chunks of text. Instead of doing this work manually, let Book2Pod do it for you. It can break documents into individual 4K notes, or, if a document has existing page or chapter markers, into chapters or pages. You can also use Book2Pod to manage notes.—DAN FRAKES

Formation 1.0

  ; Mekanica Software; $29

Feeling constrained by your personal information manager? Formation lets you organize information your way. Manage contacts, calendars, to-do lists, bookmarks, media, notes—anything you can imagine. Customize lists with up to 14 columns that can contain text, icons (140 are included), priorities, check boxes, pop-up menus, passwords, or dates. Query a dictionary server and save definitions for easy reference. A Media Browser lets you browse any folder and preview QuickTime movies, audio files, images, and documents. Formation integrates seamlessly with Address Book (alas, this isn’t currently true of iCal).—ROBERT ELLIS

Gmail Status 0.8

  ; Carsten Guenther; free

gCount 0.4

  ; Nathan Spindel; shareware (donations accepted)

If you own a Gmail account, you can keep tabs on it from the Finder’s menu bar by installing either Gmail Status or gCount. Both programs check your Gmail account at an interval of your choosing and alert you when you’ve received new messages. If you’ve set up Labels (which use rules to classify your incoming mail) for your account, Gmail Status will show you how many of your new messages fall under each label.

From the menu-bar icon, you can choose to open your Gmail in-box (which appears in a new Safari window), compose a new message, or manually check for new mail. Unfortunately, neither program can log you into your account for the first time, and neither can check multiple accounts.—KELLY LUNSFORD

iCal Publish

  ; Jeffrey Mattox; $7

If you work with several iCal calendars, you know that publishing those calendars to your .Mac Web site is annoying. Because you must post them individually, they must be viewed separately. iCal Publish merges any number of selected calendars into a single calendar and publishes it. The only problem is that the combined calendar shows all events in the same color, so you need to describe each event clearly to know exactly what, or whom, it refers to.—KIRK MCELHEARN

Mail Scripts 2.2

  ; Andreas Amann; free

Apple Mail includes good support for AppleScript scripting technologies, but there are only a few useful scripts in its script menu. Andreas Amann has taken advantage of Mail’s AppleScript support:Mail Scripts lets you accomplish otherwise difficult or impractical tasks. For example, you can use Mail Scripts to add all recipients of the current message to your address book, archive messages for backup or transfer, switch between SMTP servers (a boon for frequent travelers), create rules based on the current message, remove duplicate messages, schedule messages to be sent at particular times, and conduct complex searches of your address book. If you’re a Mail power user, Mail Scripts are sure to please.—DAN FRAKES

iAddressX 3.2

  ; Mibasoft; $8

iAddressX puts your Address Book at your fingertips. It organizes your contacts and displays them in the menu bar for quick access. You can group contacts alphabetically, by company, by country, by recently used contacts, and by Address Book groups. iAddressX installs as a preference pane, and you can customize the settings to display only the information you want. Or search Address Book and display only the results in the menu. (Invoke the search with a hot key; you can also set hot keys to invoke the iAddressX menu or preferences, or to open Address Book.) After you find a contact, iAddressX lets you display information in large type, copy addresses, display a map, open iChat, show a birthday in iCal, send an e-mail, or dial a number (using the speaker, Vonage, or your modem), all in a couple of clicks.—ROBERT ELLIS

Mail.appetizer 1.0

  ; Bronson Beta; free

Don’t want to miss an important message but hate switching to Apple Mail every time the new-mail sound chimes? Mail.appetizer, a plug-in for Mail, displays a resizable notification window, including the sender’s photo, a preview of the message, the mailbox name (it’s not limited to just your in-box—you can include or exclude individual mailboxes), and the number of messages. Dismiss a message, mark it as read, delete it, or preview the next message (either manually or automatically after a delay you specify), all without opening Mail. You can adjust the transparency of the notification window, change the display font, and hide the subject or mailbox. Mail.appetizer ignores any messages filtered out by rules in Mail, so it won’t bother you with spam.—ROBERT ELLIS

JunkMatcher 1.19

  ; Benjamin Han; free

JunkMatcher is a spam filter that picks up where Apple Mail’s built-in filter leaves off. JunkMatcher adds a rule to Mail, and a bundled companion application—JunkMatcher Central—lets you fine-tune settings, though the default installation works impressively well. JunkMatcher checks e-mail messages against a white list , or list of protected senders, so important messages get through. It tests against various e-mail properties (like malformed sender addresses or missing subjects). It matches malicious patterns, like Vi-ag-raE or M0rtg age. It can even sniff out offending patterns hidden in the raw source of a message. Then, it checks e-mail against a black list of IP addresses. JunkMatcher Central also lets you view log files and statistics (where you can identify and rank the most egregious abusers), and manage your white list. You can download updated patterns to keep one step ahead of spammers. If Mail’s built-in filter can’t keep your in-box clean, let JunkMatcher snag the interlopers.—ROBERT ELLIS

[ Kelly Lunsford is Macworld’ s senior how-to editor. Robert Ellis is the author of Handpicked Software for Mac OS X: The Best New Freeware, Shareware, and Commercial Software for Mac OS X (Futurosity, 2002); he publishes the Handpicked Software Web site. Senior Writer Dan Frakes is the author of Mac OS X Power Tools, second edition (Sybex, 2004). Kirk McElhearn is a Mac author and journalist; his latest book is How to Do Everything with Mac OS X Panther (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2004). ]

With Mail.appetizer’s notification window, there’s no need to open Apple Mail just to see a preview of an incoming message.If Apple Mail’s built-in junk filter isn’t enough, install the free JunkMatcher.
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