The competition is fierce among Mac-based e-mail clients, which include Microsoft’s free Outlook Express, Qualcomm’s Eudora Pro, and Bare Bones Software’s Mailsmith. CTM Development’s entry, PowerMail 2.2, supports both popular e-mail protocols (POP and IMAP) and makes it easy to switch from Eudoraor Claris Emailerby allowing you to import messages from either program. But power users will find that the $49 package has a way to go before it can truly challenge Eudora Pro.
PowerMail uses Apple’s V-Twin search technology (also found in Mac OS 8.5’s Sherlock) to index its mail database, resulting in fast searches, even through thousands of mail messages. The program supports other important Apple technologies, such as AppleScript and drag and drop. PowerMail also offers excellent multiple-language support; you can mix and match different languages (for example, English and kanji text) within the same message. The usual bells and whistles are here: PowerMail colors quoted text in messages, lets you create folders and subfolders to manage your mail, and lets you choose from multiple signatures and multiple mail accounts.
However, unlike Outlook Express, PowerMail doesn’t have a built-in parser to display HTML-formatted e-mail; instead, you click on a button to view the HTML in your default browser.
PowerMail uses an inflexible approach to e-mail filtering, an important function given the ever increasing volume of e-mail that users have to deal with. You can create as many filters as you want, but you’re limited to just two filter criteria, you can’t control the order in which filters execute, and you can perform only limited actions on filtered mail.
PowerMail’s address book also needs improvement. The program sorts on the first name, not the last, and you can have only one e-mail address associated with each person. Worse, the obvious workaround for the latter problementering the name twiceis ineffective. When you type the person’s name into the New Message form, PowerMail autocompletes the address entry, and there’s no way to tell which address you’ve gotten.
A CTM Development spokesperson says that filtering and address-book changes are high on the list for future improvement.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you’re used to the free Eudora Light or the e-mail component of Netscape Communicator, you’ll find PowerMail 2.2’s abilities to be a revelation, as will those who receive mail in other languages. But for experienced e-mail users, PowerMail isn’t ready to thrust aside the likes of Eudora Pro or the free Outlook Express.