ZOUNDS and FORSOOTH! It is I, your Shareware God, back at last from an extended vacation in Scotchgard (which is a lot like Asgard, but the upholstery lasts forever). I deign again to come amongst you mortals with yet more goodies for your shareware arsenal, and ask only that you honour thy shareware Author and pay thy shareware fees if you like and keep the program.
If you don’t, don’t be surprised if great horny toads don’t rain down on your person just when you’re trying to impress a potential Significant Other. You have been warned: us Gods don’t have many weapons other than plagues, floods and what have you — but they can be pretty darn effective, and even Viagra won’t save you when your boudoir looks like the reptile house at the zoo.
Since your ever-lovin’ Shareware God picked up a graphite iBook, he’s been doing the road trip and/or remote-location Internet thing a whole lot more than before. Even just checking your stocks from the comfort of one’s couch (especially nice here in Scotchgard) instead of being stuck behind a desk is a small thrill quite comparable to one’s first skinny-dipping experience.
My oracles tell me that more and more of you are doing the same, and even those of you without a lovable Consumer Laptop are arranging ways to at least check your email even while you are away from your desk, and this is a Good Thing in the eyes of the Shareware God because it means that some of you are actually venturing … gasp … outside!
Before we get on with a look at some remote-location email programs, let’s talk for a moment about the stupidity of trying to read your email on a cell phone, shall we? Good.
It’s pretty stupid, that much is clear. While your Shareware God has no objection to or qualms with using a Palm device to do such a thing (though web surfing on a Palm is still like ballroom dancing on a picnic table), have you noticed that the people who actually attempt to shove their email into a one-inch-square pixelated monochrome LCD screen are generally the same people who dismiss the iMac because it’s built-in 15″ monitor is “too small?” Hah!
That said, let’s move on to some workable alternatives that will keep you not only up-to-date, but out of the opthamologist’s office. Your Shareware God will first discuss options you can put on your own secondary or mobile-device of choice, and then we’ll move on to checking your email from any nearby computer, even the coconut-powered ones the Professor routinely builds on Gilligan’s Island (though he can’t seem to manage building an actual BOAT).
easyMAIL App Review
The most basic program I’ve come across to check one’s email from a mobile or secondary computer under your control is the aptly-named E(asy)-Mail 2.5.1 (emailware from Arvid Andersson). This one is downright primitive compared to the others we’ll look at, but I find myself coming back to it time and time again. It must be the sheer simplicity: there’s really not much to it. It opens with a blank message for you to send out, but you can also use your Internet Config’s settings to check your POP3 mail. It lets you check the headers, delete unwanted messages and reply (using your default SMTP settings). It doesn’t handle attachments or html, keep address books or filters, but that’s hardly the point. It leaves all messages on the ISP’s server so you can retrieve them later on your “real” email program, or delete the foolish ones on the spot. Best of all, it runs on absolutely anything. It’s absolutely ideal for travellers on the road who need to check for important messages but can save the usual stuff for when they get back home. It’s also ideal for sending out a quick note to people without all the folderol your “home” email program gives you. And, of course, it’s free. The miserly side of your Shareware God smiles on that point.
Mail Siphon II App
Many, however, might require something just a tad more beefy. Keeping the mail on the server is great, sure, but if you’re away from your desk for quite a while E(asy)-Mail’s basic capabilities might come up short. Yet, a full-blown email program might be overkill. What you need, my mid-line friend, is the incredibly handy Mail Siphon II ($15 from Alexandre Carlhian). Now that you can send out as well as receive in, Mail Siphon II is an indispensible tool both for checking and replying to messages and checking multiple identities/addresses/servers (something Easy-Mail can’t do). As you can see from the screenshot (provided by Maliasoft), Mail Siphon allows you to manage your emails quite gracefully, though again address books, attachments and other such fancy stuff is best left to the “mail” email program. Both it and E(asy)-Mail are ideal for 68K users, since both are fat binaries, and good for handling “flooded” email boxes or deleting unwanted messages with large attachments before you spend time dowloading the whole wretched thing.
Sweetmail For Mac
Last but not least on our list is a pair of full-blown email programs. Sweetmail ($18 from S. Ichise). It is small and compact, but has the many advantages of a “real” email program: address books, filtering, categorizable inboxes, spell checking (and more recent versions are even adding thread grouping!) and more. You can set it to leave your messages on the server, and it can admirably stand in for your “real” email program both on the road and at home. It even has the ability to import in Eudora and Outlook Express mailboxes, so you don’t lose anything!
Green (freeware from eWare, Inc.) wants to be your main email program, no ifs ands or buts about it. Apart from some minor stability issues, it is a terrific program, able to import both mail and address books from Eudora and OE, able to set up powerful filters/mail rules like Claris Emailer, and tiny in size and RAM requirements. It needs OS 8.1 (unlike Sweetmail, which can go all the way back to 7.5), but if you’re looking for a good all-around email program that’s better in many ways than Eudora (and doesn’t make you look at little ads all the time), and aesthetically superior to Outlook Express (with the added bonus that eWare, Inc. have never been found guilty of anything), you may want to check out Green.
Your Shareware God should mention that both Green and Sweetmail are available in other languages. Sweetmail is available in Japanese, French and German; Green in French and German.
Finally, we come to the notion of you being on the road and wanting to check your email, but you have conveniently forgotten your computer! What to do?
Free Email Service Providers
Luckily, websites like mailstart.com and anywheremail.com provide you free of charge with an easy way to check any POP3-compliant email address — all you need is to be able to borrow someone’s web browser for a few minutes (after assuring them that you need not change any settings — you know how picky some people are about that). You can even check your mac.com email account on a PC — won’t that just bug em! Remember to leave a bookmark! 🙂
In addition, there are useful sites that offer free web-based email accounts, like surfree.com (also a very fine and mac-friendly national dial-up ISP!) and Hotmail. The latter tends to be a hangout for spammers and other low-lifes, though it’s name recognition is significant. My advice would be to avoid MS-run security-problem-ridden services such as Hotmail and stick with the more “fun” and “easy to remember” free webmail accounts like beer.com. Others, such as netaddress.com let you pick from a variety of easy .com names they have secured (your Shareware God particularly likes “email@example.com” — that should get them moving to reply!).
All told, Mac users are in great hands when away from their machines, at least as far as email goes. You can stay out of touch and just “lurk” your own email anytime you want. Hopefully this will inspire a few of you to make friends with Mr. Sun again, that big yellow orb you last saw before your first computer class in high school. If you do decide to start actually “interfacing” with nature again, remember one more acronym: besides “www” and “pop3” and “smtp,” you might want to keep “spf” in mind.