by October 1, 2001 0 comments

If you’re frustrated with unwanted e-mail, then try using e-mail poppers

How often do you spend ages downloading e-mail, only to find that a large part of it is junk–jokes from an old friend, who doesn’t rest until he has sent at least five jokes a day or mail telling you to lose weight? Worse, what about mail with huge attachments? You can try putting a filter on message size, but this may not prevent junk mail from creeping in.

Mail-popper programs or mail checkers give you a snapshot of your mailbox, showing you all your e-mail before they are downloaded, giving you the choice to get rid of unwanted mail before doing a complete download.

E-mail poppers are small applications, which connect to your POP3 server and find out the number of mail in your inbox. They also show you each sender’s name or mail ID, message subject, and the date and time on which each mail was sent. On this basis you can decide if you want to download that mail or not. If you need more information, you can configure some poppers to show you the first few lines of e-mail. You can then delete e-mail you don’t want. But be careful about what you delete as you won’t be able to retrieve any deleted mail. Mail poppers are not substitutes for mail clients. Once you delete unwanted mail, you have to use your e-mail client to download the rest. At the same time, since mail poppers do not download the entire mail, they are faster than regular e-mail clients.

Mail poppers can range from a few hundred kBs to a few MBs in size. Among other things, their size also determines the number of features they support. For instance, some can be configured to check up to 10 different POP accounts simultaneously, which is useful for people with multiple accounts. Some can even check your free Web-based mail accounts such as hotmail or Yahoo, in a similar way. Like mail clients, mail poppers let you set an interval after which they automatically check your account(s). They sit in the background, and flash a message or play a sound to inform you when you have new mail. Some are even linked to your regular mail client and launch it if you want to reply to a mail.

Where can you get one?

You’ll find some very useful mail poppers–for Windows, Linux, and Mac–on this month’s CD (in the \cdrom\poppers folder). Plus, in this article, we take a closer look at some of the best ones from that lot. To test their effectiveness, we tried them during peak traffic hours, on our company’s 256 kbps connect, which is shared by 200 people. We kept 10 different e-mail on a POP account, some with attachments, some without and then recorded the time taken to view them using each mail popper.

Sachin Makhija and  Shekhar Govindarajan

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