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A Visit from the Email Doctor

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A Visit from the Email Doctor

by Adam Engst, author of Eudora 4.2 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide

Adam Engst-Peachpit author, TidBITS publisher, and now email doctor. At January's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Engst dug into his black bag to offer tips and tricks from his popular Eudora for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide. These Q&A sessions drew large audiences and let Engst address a number of issues that have cropped up since the book was published.

Here's some healthy advice from the doctor himself...


Many people don't know that if you mistype a common word, Eudora can automatically replace it with the correct spelling. All you need is a special auto-correct dictionary that contains pairs of misspelled/properly spelled words. I wrote about this topic in "TidBITS AutoCorrect Dictionary Tips," in which you can find the link to download the dictionary. Don't ask Qualcomm for help with this-it's a totally unsupported feature! (I have also made my personal user dictionary, complete with tons of computer industry terms, available for download; for more information, check out "Eudora Pro 4.2 Continues to Deliver, Part 2)."


Although the following trick is relatively well known and in the Eudora VQS, you may not have run across it. In any mailbox, you can Option-click a piece of information in a message summary (such as a name in the Sender column), and Eudora will automatically select and group all messages containing that information, no matter how the messages were sorted originally. I use this feature constantly because it makes selecting similar messages so easy.


Ever wonder why a message ends up in some weird mailbox? It's undoubtedly due to filters going awry. Here's how to find out which filters have been applied to a message: With the Filters window closed, select a message, hold down the Shift key, and choose Filters from the Window menu. When the Filters window opens, the filters that were applied to the selected message are highlighted.


Eudora 4.2 features a fabulous search capability that lets you build a search and save it by choosing Save from the File menu. Once saved, you can run that search quickly by choosing it from the bottom of the hierarchical Find menu located in the Special menu.


If you're using Eudora 5.0 (which has few significant changes from 4.3 and 4.2) and want to make a "three-chili" flame message without actually swearing, just try the phrase "Appearance Manager." Apparently it's a subtle tweak at Apple from Eudora's programmers. But it also reveals an interesting feature: If you ask Eudora to send such a message, Eudora automatically queues it for ten minutes in the future to give you time to think about whether you really want to be sending something that merited three chilis.


It's easy to lose track of attachments. Here are a couple of tips for finding them.

  • To prevent misplacing attachments, you can use the Move Attachment filter action within a filter to file attachments in specific places, separating out attachments related to a specific project, for instance.

  • Or, you can Control-Option-double-click an attachment icon in a message to open the folder that contains that attachment in the Finder.


Many people don't like styled text in email because it's often hard to read. Eudora offers excellent controls for sending and receiving text in the Styled Text settings panel. I recommend setting the Sending Mail with Styles section to Send plain text and Ask me every time, which will prompt you each time you try to send a message that contains graphics or styles. Then you can decide if you really want to send the message as is, clicking Both or Styled if you did, and Plain if you didn't. For incoming mail, the Styled Text settings panel lets you set precisely which aspects you do or do not want Eudora to render. For instance, I don't care to see fonts or font sizes, so I turn those off, while leaving font colors and styles on.


Have you ever wanted to send the same message to a bunch of people who've written to you? Create a new message, then, in a mailbox that contains mail from the people to whom you want to send your missive, select their messages and drag them to the To, Cc, or Bcc line. Eudora automatically inserts their addresses into your new message.


Last, but certainly not least... Eudora has an amazing hidden feature that lets you Command-click URLs to open them in a new window in your Web browser (in the background). If you get a message with three URLs, just Command-click them all and finish reading the message. When you're done, switch to your Web browser, and you'll have three windows, fully loaded. No more waiting for slow Internet connections!

You do have to turn on this feature using one of Eudora's many hidden x-eudora-settings. The easiest way to do this, and to get the full list of x-eudora-settings (along with a few of my personal favorites), is to send an email to (I update the list when new versions of Eudora come out. If you'd like to receive these updates automatically, just put ADD in the Subject of your message.) If you'd like to Command-click URLs to open them in the background right away, copy this URL (x-eudora-setting:258=y) into Eudora and double-click it, then click OK in the dialog box that appears.

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