About Overcome Email Overload with Eudora 5

About Overcome Email Overload with Microsoft Outlook 2000

Frequently asked questions

About the author/publisher

Press Room

World Wide Webfoot Press home

Other email material by Kaitlin Duck Sherwood:

A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email

Finding Email Addresses

Why I Don't Like Electronic Greeting Cards

Email Bibliography

Humorous looks at email:

The Dark Side of Web Publishing

Email vs. Letters

Hyphenate or not -- Email or E-mail?

Overcome Email Overload with Eudora 5

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Excerpted from Overcome Email Overload with Eudora 5
Copyright © 2001 Kaitlin Duck Sherwood

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by email? Do you ever have to struggle to get through all of your messages between meetings? Does getting one more frivolous message ever make you angry?

It probably wasn't always this way. When you started using email, you probably only got a trickle of email messages each day. After a few months, perhaps ten messages arrived in your inbox daily. A few months after that, you changed to a different department at work and started getting thirty messages per day. And yesterday you came to work and found ten messages about the facilities shutdown, five announcements that people have changed jobs, three jokes, seven messages complaining about the new lobby furniture, four announcements of new projects, eight direct questions about some aspect of your job, two notices that a red minivan's lights are on, confirmation that the book you bought on-line has shipped, and fifty other similarly random messages.

Little by little, your trickle turned into a flood, and now you are gasping for air.

Does this sound like you? If so, cheer up--you've come to the right place. This book will save your time and perhaps your sanity. Some techniques might require a little bit of work at first, but they will be worth it over time.

If you don't get this much email, count yourself lucky--for now. This book will show you how to keep from getting overwhelmed in the future.

Who Is This Book for?

This book is for anybody using Eudora 5 who gets too much email. While you need to know a few very basic things, you do not need to be an expert on Eudora 5. This book explains all the advanced features that you need to know--and doesn't waste your time explaining every single possible thing you can do with Eudora 5.

Even if you are a Eudora power user, this book will still be useful. Three-quarters of the book is on email strategies , not which button to push or which menu to pull down. If this were a book on writing, it would be something like Effective Business Communication , not Mastering WordPerfect 7.3.2 in Ten Easy Steps Unleashed .

When there is more than one page of "buttons and menus" instruction, I give the page number of the next strategy section. This lets you easily skip over material you already know. I do assume that you are familiar with the basic operations of Eudora and:

  • can send and receive email messages
  • can add nicknames to your address book
  • can use the Find and Search tools
  • can open a message in its own window
  • know what mailing lists (also called listservs, list servers , listbots, or distribution lists) are

There were a few topics that clearly some people know and others do not. To give the information some people need without boring the ones who know it already, I put a very brief discussions of mailboxes and labels in Mailboxes and Labels.

If you need a comprehensive reference manual for Eudora, you should find another book. Eudora for Windows and Macintosh: Visual Quickstart Guide by Adam Engst (Peachpit Press, 1999) should tell you what you need.

If you are a teacher, you will find this book suitable for classroom instruction at many levels. The language in the book is easily accessible, even for teenagers. On the other hand, its deconstructions of the medium can be jumping-off points for collegiate classroom discussions. Homework exercises are available at


While there is material that applies to anybody, I wrote this book for people who get too much email at work. Very few people are overwhelmed by messages from their closest personal friends.

Overview of This Book

Here's a preview of what you will learn in each chapter.

This book starts by explaining filters --instructions that you can give to your email program to organize and prioritize your messages automatically. Organize and Prioritize Your Messages and Useful Filter Recipes are by far the most technical of the chapters, but also the ones that I believe are the most useful. When I started using filters, I was able to get through my email messages in half the time it took before.

Finding and selecting a message in Eudora doesn't take much time, but it's something you do over and over. A little bit of time saved on each operation can add up quickly.

Reading messages more efficiently helps enormously, but if you still have to read and respond to a hundreds of messages per day, it might not be enough.

Another way to save time is to write better messages. A miscommunication means more work for you--which usually means more email. Reducing your load by writing well is such an important topic that it's split into four chapters.

  • Reduce Ambiguity, shows how to make the content of your messages more clear. If you write clear messages, people won't have to send you further messages asking for an explanation.
  • Convey Emotional Tone, gives strategies the emotional tone more clear. You won't have to spend as much time explaining your intentions.
  • Make Messages Legible, shows how to send messages that your correspondents can read easily. This reduces the number of times you'll have to send a message.
  • Get and Keep Attention, shows how to improve the chances that your correspondents will notice, understand, and reply to your messages. This means less time you'll spend on getting a response or action from your correspondents.

At some point, regardless of how well you manage your own email, you'll be limited by your coworkers' email habits.

Each chapter ends with a set of summarizing bullet points.

Appendix A has an extensive glossary. I do define almost all technical terms, abbreviations, and jargon the first time I use them, but I realize that you might not read the whole book straight through. I also don't define some of the more elementary terms. Finally, the Glossary defines some email terms that this book doesn't use, but that you might see in other places.

As mentioned earlier, Mailboxes and Labels discusses mailboxes and labels.

Eudora Versions

There are many different versions of Eudora. There are Windows and Mac OS versions of all three Eudora 5 modes: Paid, Sponsored, and Light. As far as the material in this book is concerned, the three versions have very few differences. I will point differences out as they come up.

(If you are using Eudora 5 at work, you probably have Paid mode. Paid mode costs money and has all the features. Sponsored mode has all the features and is free, but you have to look at advertising. Light mode is free but doesn't have as many features as Sponsored and Paid mode.)

There are many older versions of Eudora, but fortunately Qualcomm is very good at maintaining compatibility between versions. If you use an older version, the pictures might look different, but most of the features discussed in this book are essentially the same. You can learn more about how your version's lack of features affects material discussed in this book at:


Additional Material

While I only have a limited amount of space in this book to cover material, the Web is not limited. There is additional material at this book's Web site:


The site has:

  • exercises for students
  • visual aids (overheads) suitable for lectures
  • a list of errors that were found after the book went to the printers
  • template files that you can download and use
  • links to sites with further information

Notation, Terminology, and Simplifications

Please take a moment to read about the notation and terminology. Understanding the notation will help you spot examples more easily and recognize how I've simplified things. Understanding the terminology will make the explanations easier to follow.

Sections that mainly cover which buttons to push and which menus to pull down have section headers that start with "How to..."

I use a fixed-width font for anything that the computer would print or that you would type.

If you need to select something from a menu, I use arrows ( -> ) to show the order of the menu selection. For example, if I tell you to select Message -> New Message , that means that you should first select the Message menu, then select New Message from the choices that appear.

I sometimes combine Mac OS and Windows commands with a slash. For example, almost all keyboard shortcuts are identical between Mac OS and Windows except for the modifier keys. I sometimes write instructions like "press Command / Control-w to close the window." That means that if you are using Mac OS, then you should press Command-w ; if you are using Windows, you should press Control-w .

All filter recipes (covered in Organize and Prioritize Your Messages and Useful Filter Recipes) are boxed like this:

when a message arrives

if To: contains roses-talk@rosegardens.org

then Transfer To mailbox RoseGardening

Figures showing Eudora windows don't reproduce particularly well and have a lot of unimportant details. I therefore usually show email messages as text instead of as screen shots. Email messages have a light grey background like this:

Subject: This is in the header of an example message.

Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2000 20:09:59 -0800

From: sender@catfloss.org

To: receiver@catfloss.org


This is the body of an example message.


I need to explain some of the email terms as well. Unfortunately, the terminology of email is a bit odd.

  • Body: The body is the actual text of the conversation. In the example above, the body is This is the body of an example message.
  • The header: The information about a message is called the header. That's what's above the line in the example above. The header includes things like who the message is to, who it is from, when it was sent, what the subject is, and so on.
  • Headers: Each line in the header is called a header. For example, the Subject: line is a header. So is the Date: line; so is the From: line. They are all headers . (I didn't come up with this terminology, I'm just reporting it.)

I don't show all possible headers. Email messages usually have ten to twenty headers, most of which are only interesting to email programs or the programmers who write them. These headers are so dull, in fact, that Eudora usually hides most of the headers from you.

Unless a header is important to an example, I leave it out. For example, if I am not discussing dates or times, I leave out the Date: header. I even leave out the From: and To: headers frequently.

When I show the header in an example, a thin black line separates the header and body. The header is above the line and the body is below the line.

I usually leave out email signatures in examples. Signatures are useful, but they take up space that I'd rather use for explanations.


I put short pieces of advice that don't fit in the flow of the text into TIP boxes, like this:

    Tip: To see all the headers, including ones Eudora normally hides, open the message in its own window. Click on the button near the upper left corner that says BLAH BLAH BLAH .


Eudora usually shows quotes in email messages with black vertical lines that it calls excerpt bars . However, people using different email programs usually see ">" at the beginning of your quoted lines, even if you see excerpt bars when you create the message. Because of that--and because it is difficult for me to simulate excerpt bars in my text layout program--I almost always show quotes with ">".


Many of this book's examples deal with personal email. I know that many companies do not allow personal email, but too many examples about database upgrade projects would bore you.


  • This book is for non-technical people who have some experience with email already, use it mostly at work, and get lots of it.
  • This book covers filters, navigating more efficiently, reducing the number of incoming messages, spending less time on responses, writing clearer messages, and improving your organization's email culture.
  • Words in fixed-width font represent things that either you type or your computer displays.
  • The body of a message is the actual information conveyed; the header is information about the message.
  • All email messages in this book will be in a box with a grey background. If I show the header, there will be a thin black line separating the header and body.
  • To save space in examples, I don't show headers and signatures unless they help clarify the example.
  • In this book's examples, quotes will usually be marked with ">" at the beginning of the line instead of excerpt bars.

Go up to the Table of Contents
Go back to the Preface
Go on to Chapter 2 - Organize and Prioritize Your Messages