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All this, and mail, too

iTools also includes free Web-based email. Once you become an iTools member, an account with the address <username>@mac.com is automatically created for you. Unlike with other free email services, you can access your mac.com mail box using any standard email client, such as Outlook Express or Netscape Communicator, which are included with OS 9, or the built-in Mail application that comes with OS X.

You can store up to 5MB of messages and attachments on the mac.com server, or if you prefer, you can have your mac.com email automatically forwarded to another account. Setup of your mail client follows the standard conventions for the respective programs, but if you need some extra help, the iTools help facility can walk you through the setup process for Outlook Express, Communicator, or other mail clients.

On the downside, the limited space you get with your mac.com account can be restrictive if you don't download your mail frequently, but Apple's limits are in line with other free mail services on the Internet. And the forwarding and Auto Reply features (that send an automated reply to anyone who sends you a message) can help you direct your mac.com messages to the right place.

Speaking of mail, iTools helps you keep in touch with friends and family another way--with iCards, electronic greeting cards for all occasions, which you can personalize and send to individuals, or to everyone on your list of correspondents. A few other sites on the Net offer similar services, but iCards comes with a unique customization option for those with iDisk. Choose iCards' "Create your own" option, and you can select any JPEG or GIF file on your iDisk as the graphic for a custom card. It's a nice touch that's unavailable with most--if any--other Web-based e-postcard services.

Apple's iTools offer a breadth of free services that is unparalleled on the Net. Their elegance and seamless integration into Mac OS X make them even more worthwhile. Now that you can access your iDisk from non-Mac desktops, an already great service has gotten even better. And you will be hard pressed to find disk space as cheaply as Apple offers it.

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