Combining e-mail from multiple accounts is a very messy process - COMMUNICATIONS

Many government
employees have e-mail accounts tucked away all over the Internet: perhaps a Novell
GroupWise account at work, a NetCom or America Online account at home, and an extra
account at http://www.hotmail.com for watching mail
lists.


It’s nice to be so plugged in, but multiple accounts mean lengthy address books at
each location. If you want to merge address books or combine message folders,
compatibility problems often ensue.


Things can get truly snarled up if you switch to a new office mail system. You may have
to export a whole series of public and private folders and address books in different
formats.


Most mail clients let you export an address book and saved messages in a file with an
extension such as .pab, .pst or .csv. Some programs ask you to choose the extension. Which
should you choose?


Such files aren’t always easy to import into other clients. Microsoft Outlook and
Microsoft Exchange, the so-called universal in-box included with Microsoft Windows 95,
both use the .pab extension, which stands for personal address book.


Other mail systems use .csv, which stands for comma-separated values. Personal file
folders might use .pst.


Before you make a choice, see what formats your mail programs support. If you’re
uncertain, export your address book as .csv and your mail messages as text—the lowest
common denominators. The .csv extension is also handy for dumping an address list into a
spreadsheet.


But don’t simply alter the file extension or you’ll wind up with gibberish.
Look for your mail client’s export feature.


In Outlook, it’s the Import and Export Wizard under the file menu. Web mail
services such as juno.com provide a user folder that includes both address book and
messages.


The only way I’ve found to export a HotMail address is to go to the Quicklist
page, which displays all your addresses. Save it as an .htm file and edit it into a
comma-delimited file. That’s clunky, but it works.


Sometimes a third-party tool is your best bet for quick conversions. WabOut from
Connected Software Inc. of Framingham, Mass., imports the Windows Address Book into
Microsoft Outlook or Windows Messaging. Download the shareware version or buy an enhanced
version at http://www.empire.net/level/connected.html.
 


ResolveEmail from Chapura Inc. of Mobile, Ala., is a tiny program that resolves Outlook
contacts’ e-mail addresses transferred from a 3Com Corp. PalmPilot handheld system.


Chapura also sells PocketMirror, which synchronizes all Outlook features between your
PalmPilot and your desktop system. Pick it up at http://www.chapura.com/.
 


At home, I don’t need Outlook’s bells and whistles to just read mail, save a
few addresses and filter incoming mail into predetermined folders. I prefer simple but
robust e-mail clients such as Pegasus from http://www.pegasus.usa.com
or Eudora from http://www.eudora.com.  Exporting
addresses from these clients to a .csv file is easy.


If you want to view multiple Post Office Protocol 3 accounts through Outlook 97, you
may need a patch. Microsoft offers details and a download pointer at http://www.microsoft.com/kb/articles/q166/0/22.html.
A patch also comes as part of Microsoft Office 97 Service Release 1.


For more information, visit technical support newsgroups for Outlook 97 at http://www.microsoft.com/Support/Products/Office/Outlook/.
  For other conversion or installation questions about e-mail systems, visit Greg
Elin’s Everything E-mail site at http://www.everythingemail.com.


Outlook-specific questions have a wide range of answers at Sue Mosher’s Slipstick
Systems Outlook Page, http://www.slipstick.com/exchange/outlook.htm.


And learn all about the latest mail utilities, clients, servers, gateways and mail bots
at http://www.email-software.com/.


Shawn P. McCarthy is a computer journalist, webmaster and Internet programmer for
Cahners Business Information Inc. E-mail him at smccarthy@cahners.com.


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