Sunday, August 12, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Inbox / Charles Bermant

ePrompter program helps keep your e-mail neat, tidy

Special to The Seattle Times

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Managing large volumes of e-mail has become a personal organizational issue; everyone has his or her own little techniques. Some figure it out on their own, while others turn to their friendly neighborhood newspaper columnist for help. And a few of us have found the organization stakes increase as we need to manage several mailboxes at once.

A free utility called ePrompter (downloadable from provides a simple interface for coordinating multiple mailboxes. Obviously the rules here are different from something like Outlook, where you get product support or resources to help you get started. But if you take the time to scope it out, ePrompter can save time and stress.

ePrompter manages up to eight different accounts (if you need more you are beyond help anyway). These can be standard POP3, Webmail or proprietary, like America Online. Each account is represented by a button icon. You can set it to check mail in increments from one minute to 12 hours. So if you have eight accounts, there are eight little buttons you can click. You view what messages have arrived, then have the option of reading or deleting them.

This limited function can be quite useful. You can screen messages as they come in, deleting them on the server before downloading them onto your machine. This saves you from spam and protects you from viruses. It's an easy tweak. Just set ePrompter to check every minute or so, running Outlook to check manually or every half hour. Here, you won't get unwanted material in your mail client, and you can always download a message immediately.

The most ingenious feature is the ability to manage Webmail. You might use a Yahoo! or Hotmail account to receive specific messages. Using ePrompter, you don't have to log on to see if the message has arrived. This is a real timesaver if you want to manage messages from several sources, or get a lot of messages that don't require an answer.

ePrompter requires some tinkering. I couldn't figure out why it wasn't reading my POP3 mail until I realized that I typed a comma instead of a period in the server address. This is a fairly common mistake, but Outlook tells you when you've blown it.

Still, ePrompter isn't for everyone, and the cost of admission requires some compromise. For many of us, the ability to screen and sort messages from disparate sources will be worth having to check under the hood once in a while.

If you have questions or suggestions for Charles Bermant, you can contact him by e-mail at Type "Inbox" in the subject field.


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