This review is about managing e-mails, which involves... umm... the
management of e-mails. If you're like me, managing e-mails is what you
spend far too much of your day doing already. So I'm not about to tell
you how to create new directories in your favourite e-mail clients, go
through the intricacies of selecting messages, and the finer points of
dragging and dropping them into the newly created directories, or go
into the subject of creating and tweaking e-mail client rules. Instead,
what we are looking at here is software applications that specifically
aid in the management of e-mails, particularly the advanced search and
Before you jump to conclusions and ask "Isn't that the task of my
e-mail client software?" the answer is yes and no. While most popular
e-mail clients perform some limited e-mail management tasks, many basic
functions are definitely lacking.
Personally, the unarchived inboxes for my several active e-mail
accounts amount to tens of thousands of messages that I regularly need
to refer back to and search for information. Short of creating many
complex custom rules to apply to my inboxes -- which I am sure would
set a world record of some sort in rule-based application, certainly to
rival the largest firewalls and router configurations out there these
days -- I'm stuck trying to search and manage them as best I can.
The software packages in this review are all Windows-based client side
applications; none of them are server based. Each of them assists with
either the sorting, searching, or archiving of e-mail messages.
What are the important things to look out for in a package like this?
Depth of searching including the ability to string several search items together as well as include wildcards in searches.
Speed of searching, along with depth of searching, is a very important feature to look for; time is money, after all.
The ability to archive and to search archives.
According to the ISYS Web site, ISYS:email.search is "a search engine
for your Outlook, Outlook Express, and Eudora e-mail. It indexes the
content of your e-mail folders and provides powerful, lightning-speed
search and retrieval capabilities." ISYS:email.search is a homegrown
application developed in Sydney, Australia by a group of developers called Odyssey
The installation of ISYS:email.search is very straightforward. As soon
as the ISYS application is launched, the user is given the option to
automatically detect and index all the e-mails in both Outlook and
Outlook Express. For our 10,000+ e-mails, the program took just over 10
minutes and logged over two million words in those ten thousand
That's about all the configuration required. There is an option,
switched on by default, to add a quick link in the menu bar of Outlook
and Outlook Express to the ISYS application.
Because all the indexing is done upfront, the system can very quickly
search and highlight keywords that the operator needs in all messages.
The downside is that the indexing needs to be updated regularly. This
can be done either manually or automatically to a user-defined
Overall this is a very impressive package. The main benefit is its
pre-indexed searches, and these are very speedy. The user interface is
well designed and everything is logically placed. This application must
surely be on everyone's shortlist for evaluation.
Very powerful indexing and searching engine, easy to use and
No information supplied.
2. Mailbag Assistant 3.6
According to the blurb on the Fookes Software Web site, Mailbag
Assistant should "save you time and frustration. This e-mail organiser
complements your mail program and offers powerful tools to search,
sort, export, extract information, and archive your messages."
The installation and initial configuration of Mailbag Assistant took
less than five minutes. Once the setup application is launched, the
wizard guides the operator through the remaining setup. The initial
configuration takes place when the Mailbag Assistant application is
launched for the first time. This basically gives the user the option
to select which mail types/file types they wish to work with during
that session of Mailbox Assistant. Users are given the option of
launching that initial configuration screen each time the application
is run. Further specific configuration/settings can be accessed via the
tools menu or the edit/options menu.
Despite the prodigious number of applications and file types supported
by this application, there is no direct support for Outlook (Outlook
Express is there), or even just the Outlook PST files. Perhaps the
manufacturers of Mailbag Assistant think Outlook is more than capable
of handling its own e-mail management without the need for external
assistance from third party applications.
The MailBag Assistant application is very impressive with a plethora of
tools and data manipulation functions to satisfy most users.
Unfortunately, as with most products that come with all the bells and
whistles, the actual execution of some things can get a little
confusing at times. There are great tools for extracting e-mail
addresses as well as statistcal reporting tools. There is also a handy
tip of the day pop-up whenever Mailbag Assistant is launched.
This application has support for over fourteen different e-mail clients
and formats, which is far more than any other e-mail management
application in this review, but not, as we mentioned, Outlook PST files.
Overall a very powerful application, in some respects too powerful.
This program is best suited for a mail administrator or power e-mail
user who is likely to receive or need to review thousands of e-mails.
While it takes some time to get used to, once the operator has had some
experience with this application, its actual functionality far
outweighs the time it took to get to know it.
There is another application from Fookes Software which may be able to
assist Outlook users. Fookes Software told us "There is also a
specialised version of Mailbag Assistant called E-mail Examiner. It is
targeted to people involved with computer forensics, although it can
also be of interest to businesses who need to archive their MS Outlook
or AOL mail. E-mail Examiner integrates third-party tools that enable
it to import those two mailbox formats (without the presence of the
corresponding mail clients). E-mail Examiner is distributed by Paraben
and is available from www.paraben-forensics.com/examiner.html.
Supports a very wide range of clients and formats; but doesn't
Excellent range of features and functions, but relatively
difficult to master.
Very well priced application for features.
No information supplied.
3. NEO Pro 3.0
NEO is short for Nelson E-Mail Organizer. The folks at Caleo Software
tell us "NEO Pro is an ideal solution for those who want to enjoy even
more control of their Inbox. With its Unified Message Store feature,
NEO Pro will give you unparalleled capability to quickly view and
search across all your message stores in one easy step. Imagine being
able to instantly retrieve an important message buried in the dark
recesses of your archives. NEO Pro truly turns your Outlook message
stores into an instantly accessible and powerful database."
The installation of NEO Pro 3.0, while slightly more complex than some
of the other applications in this review, is still a walk in the park
and takes less than five minutes to complete, including the initial
The first time the application is launched the user
completes the initial part of the configuration, which allows the
program to create the catalogue and synchronise it. The steps in this
initial configuration are as follows: create a catalogue name and a
location for that catalogue (the option is also then given to import
catalog settings from a previous NEO version). The operator is then
prompted to select from a list of those message store(s) that they need
NEO Pro to organise. The next step involves showing NEO Pro which
folder(s) contain the junk/spam messages. The second last task is to
input any existing and any previous e-mail addresses that the user may
have had in the past so the application knows which e-mails are
personally addressed to you. Once these details have been provided, the
final step is to launch the catalogue synchronisation (with an option
to launch the NEO tutorials Web page to begin to get a grasp on this
The actual catalogue synchronisation for our test message store took
just over 10 minutes. This included synchronising the personal folders
containing 12,493 items, cleaning up the catalogue (9948 items),
organising the folders (143 items), and updating the word index (11,421
Once the synchronisation has been completed, the interface at first
seems overwhelming. However, after a short while one becomes aware of
the logically displayed frames and toolbars and it becomes easy to find
the specific tools to assist with the e-mail management. Also combined
with the online tutorials, most average users could become proficient
in its use within a very quick timeframe.
One nifty feature is the ability to run through the tab bar and
instantly view statistics and sorted mail by: correspondent, bulk
e-mail, category, status, date, or attachment. This is particularly
handy when trying to weed out that elusive e-mail. This application is
definitely the most comprehensive set of tools for managing e-mails in
this review, however some may feel that it goes a little over the top.
It's definitely one for the e-mail power user. In fact, the whole
application interoperates so well with Outlook that there is a small
icon on the toolbar in Outlook and vice versa in NEO Pro 3, which
basically allows the user to switch between one and the other. It would
be fairly safe to say that most users of this advanced package would
rarely look at the traditional Outlook screen for their e-mail needs
preferring to stay in the NEO Pro interface.
Overall, even though it only works with Microsoft Outlook, NEO Pro is
very well refined. The user interface, while seemingly cluttered, is
surprisingly easy to come to grips with and allows most tasks to be put
at the user's fingertips instead of having to dig deep into hidden menu
systems to get the task run. Another application that is a definite
must for evaluation or trial.
Supports a very wide range of clients and formats; but doesn't
Excellent range of features and functions, but relatively
difficult to master.
Well priced for this application.
No information supplied.
4. Quick Mail Sort 2.0
Another Australian developed application, Quick Mail Sort 2.0 can,
according to the NetroWorx Web site, "make sorting your Inbox in
Outlook really simple. At the push of a button Quick Mail Sort sorts
e-mail you have read in your inbox to a set of dynamically created
folders. Quick Mail Sort uses information you have already provided in
your contact list to determine where to file an e-mail.
What's more Quick Mail Sort is blazingly fast. It can sort over two thousand e-mails in under a minute."
The application is designed to run under Microsoft Outlook only. In
fact, it has no separate program launch icon -- the whole thing is
tacked into Outlook, which makes it very easy to find when you need to.
There is no specific configuration needed either, with all the
configuration coming down to creating main folders where the data
should be sorted to and then selecting from the lists provided in Mail
Sort which folders to sort mail from, and which folders to sort them
Quick Mail Sort as its name suggests is not a searching program like
the other three applications in this review. Instead it simply sorts
e-mails in a relatively limited but nonetheless effective way. It is
certainly quick; we sorted over 1000 messages in less than a minute.
Once the application is launched, the operator is presented with
options to set the source and destination folders for the messages that
are to be sorted. There are five check boxes that can be selected too.
Two of these direct messages with certain characteristics to
alternative locations selected by the operator. Those characteristics
are hard coded into the program, namely: sort messages where the
company field for the contact is empty to a specific directory, and
sort messages from people not in Outlook contact to a specific
directory. The other three check boxes cover subfolders, unread
messages, and flagged messages.
The way Quick Mail Sort handles the sorted files is very clever; it
strips the domain from any given address. Say I have some messages in
the folder that is to be sorted from email@example.com. The program creates
a subdirectory called rmit.com, and in that a subdirectory called
firstname.lastname@example.org where it stores every message from kire. If I have
messages from email@example.com it creates a subdirectory in the rmit.com
folder called firstname.lastname@example.org and stores those messages there.
This application only works with Microsoft Outlook. Depending on the
operator's creativity, most e-mail sorting tasks could possibly be
completed with this application. It would be nice to see other sorting
options included such as being able to extract just certain e-mails
from any given folder instead of having to process and sort every
message. This application would be great for users to run before
archiving/storing messages, because it would then be very easy to look
up specific e-mail trails from certain companies or contacts without
having to wade through thousands of messages. This is more specific
tool than the other we looked at, but it is quite well executed.
E-mail clients supportedMicrosoft Outlook 98 or later, Microsoft Outlook Express 5 or later, EudoraMicrosoft
Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape Messenger, Mozilla Mail, Mozilla
Thunderbird, Pegasus, The Bat!, Forte Agent, PocoMail, Calypso,
FoxMail, Juno 3.x, EML message files, and generic mailboxes
Microsoft OutlookMicrosoft Outlook 2000 or later
Ability to integrate with e-mail clientsYesYes
Ability to run as a standalone applicationYesYes
Message file types supportedOutlook, Outlook Express, EudoraNative mailbox file types from all supported e-mail clients
Telstra and Nokia have teamed up for a new BlackBerry-enabled Nokia
handset that will provide users with access to an always-on e-mail
solution via a mobile phone.
Telstra business and government mobile sales and solutions managing
director, Murray Bergin, says this latest innovation and future devices
will help boost uptake of the technology.
"This latest BlackBerry innovation means Telstra's business customers
can use the same secure, push-based wireless technology that currently
supports thousands of users Australia-wide to access corporate e-mail
through a Nokia handset," Bergin says.
BlackBerry services, introduced in Australia in September 2002, are
designed to provide users with always-on access to important
information wherever they are in Telstra GSM coverage areas.
Bergin says Telstra has sold the BlackBerry solution to almost 350 Australian corporations, with more than 6000 users.
Included in the features are tri-band support for worldwide
international roaming to approved countries, a BlackBerry Solution for
the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) market and consumers, and a
BlackBerry Desktop Redirector Solution which allows users to take
advantage of the push e-mail, voice, and SMS without the need to
install IT infrastructure.
Bergin says the launch of the Nokia 6820 device, which provides access
to the BlackBerry solution, is the latest measure in the advancement of
BlackBerry in Australia.
Alex Lambeek, general manager mobile phones and multimedia at Nokia
Australia says "In a recent study by Nokia, 77 percent of the business
professionals surveyed in Australia said that they always need to
access their e-mail while away from office. Recent studies have also
shown that... QWERTY keyboards are the most popular input mechanism for
text -- preferred by 53 percent of users."
Bergin says some of Australia's largest companies and government
organisations have already adopted Telstra's BlackBerry solution.
Which e-mail clients and formats does the software support?
What features does it have, how easy are they to use, and how useful are they?
What will the software cost and will this be compensated by the time and resources saved?
What support is provided as standard and how much will support end up costing you?
How we tested
Each application was installed on a desktop machine, a Compaq Deskpro,
with a 600Mhz Intel Pentium III CPU, 10GB HDD, 128MB RAM, Realtek
10/100 NIC, Intel 810 chipset, running Microsoft Windows 2000
Professional and Microsoft Office 2003. We tested these applications
under either Microsoft Outlook Express or Microsoft Outlook. We also
installed the Eudora mail client as these were the most common e-mail
clients that the applications supported.
Some of the applications support other e-mail client applications as
well; the only application that did not support Outlook was the Fookes Software Mailbag Assistant, so we tested that application under Outlook Express.
We imported our "test" set of recent e-mails totalling over 10,000
messages. These were then placed in several different folders under
Outlook and Outlook Express. Each e-mail management application was
then installed onto a "clean" system and tested. We also created a live
e-mail account to receive and send e-mail to and from.
Sample Scenario Company: Garrett Garden Supplies
This company's staff are currently drowning in e-mail from a
publicly-accessible e-mail address. Customer queries are going
unanswered, while others get multiple answers, and this is damaging the
company's reputation. The company desperately needs a package to help
staff organise e-mail and make sense of the chaos.
Approximate budget: The company expects the package to pay for itself in saved time and better handling of e-mail.
Requires: An e-mail management package that will integrate well with the company's current mail clients.
Concerns: Improved ability to manage e-mail is obviously the key
concern here, ease of use and ease of integration with mail clients are
also important factors.
Caleo Software's NEO Pro 3 is powerful, fast, and fully featured
without sacrificing user friendliness. It is designed specifically to
work with Microsoft Outlook, but Outlook is a very common and popular
e-mail platform. ISYS.email.search is powerful and blisteringly fast,
working wth Outlook, Outlook Express, and Eudora. That said, each
application we looked at has its own unique features that may best suit
your particular circumstances.
About RMIT IT Test Labs
RMIT IT Test Labs is an independent testing institution based in Melbourne, Victoria, performing IT product testing for clients such as IBM, Coles-Myer, and a wide variety of government bodies. In the Labs' testing for T&B, they are in direct contact with the clients supplying products and the magazine is responsible for the full cost of the testing. The findings are the Labs' own--only the specifications of the products to be tested are provided by the magazine. For more information on RMIT, please contact the Lab Manager, Steven Turvey.
This article was first published in Technology & Business magazine, a ZDNet Australia publication.