Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Using Mail Siphon II

by Dave Weikert

Washington Apple Pi Journal, January/February 2001, pp. 29-32, reprint information

Mail Siphon lets you preview your mail on a Post Office Protocol (POP) mail server without having to download it to the E-mail client on your Mac. Now, why would you want to do that?

  • You don't want to spend any time downloading E-mail unless you know it is important.
  • You have multiple E-mail accounts but your mail client can only service one account per setup (as, for example, Netscape Messenger).
  • You get a lot of Spam or Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE) that you would like to delete rather than download.
  • Someone has sent you a homogenous attachment that you don't want.
  • You have a slow modem connection and don't want to tie up the telephone line for an unknown duration.
  • You want to read and access your mail from anywhere you can get an Internet connection.

Fig. 1

The latest version of Mail Siphon is integrated with the OS 8.6 and later Internet application (go to Apple menu > Control Panels > Internet) and the older Internet Config. (In order to avoid confusion, I will subsequently refer to both Internet application (Apple current) and the older Internet Config. as Internet CP since they both integrate with Mail Siphon similarly.) Figures 1 and 2 illustrate settings for Personal and E-mail tab settings of Internet CP for Ima User, an illustrative E-mail account on the Washington Apple Pi POP mail server. Similar accounts may then be setup for Shesa User (Ima User's wife) at WAP and Ima Users E-mail account at Speakeasy, an ISP (Internet Service Provider).

Fig. 2

Once Internet CP is set up, you launch Mail Siphon the same way as you start up any other Macintosh application. Figure 3 illustrates the window you see after launch except there will be no list of mailboxes in the left-hand windowpane until you create them. To create or add a mailbox, you click on the New button, which opens an entry window as shown in Figure 4. Name the Mailbox and click on Use Internet Config. This fills in the entry fields with the appropriate data for the active Internet CP. Save the configuration, change Internet CP to the next configuration and repeat until you have added all of the mailboxes you want to access. You can Edit, Duplicate or Remove configurations using the appropriate buttons shown in Figure 3.

Fig. 3

When you have configured all the mailboxes, select the desired one and click on the Log On button. If you have left the Password field blank in Internet CP, you will be asked for it at log in. If you have entered all the data correctly in Internet CP, the window shown in Figure 5 opens showing all messages not downloaded from the server. Message information includes Number, Date, Subject, From and Size. When you select a message in the upper windowpane, the lower pane shows the content of the message (limited to the number of lines that you specify in the Edit Þ Preferences menu item).

Fig. 4

The buttons across the top of each mailbox configuration, Figure 5, are Stop (retrieving message data), New (create new message), Reply (to selected message), Get Info (on a selected message), Get All (Get Info on all messages), Save (selected message to a folder), Delete (selected message) and Log Off. Thus, Mail Siphon, in addition to previewing and deleting mail on the server, lets you create and send new messages and reply to or forward any message on the server. When you Delete a selected message or messages, you are asked to confirm that you really want to delete the selection as shown in Figure 6.

Fig. 5

Mail Siphon follows all the Macintosh User Interface Guidelines (unlike some recent Apple programs; Sherlock 2 comes immediately to mind). Control buttons denote their intended use. Selections may be expanded contiguously by shift clicking and non-contiguously by Command clicking. Windows are movable and resizable and use the standard conventions for collapsing the window to a title bar and closing the window.

Fig. 6

Mail Siphon has some intended limitations but these are well within the scope of intended use. It does not interpret HTML formatted messages, but then I don't think it should. It does not decode attachments. It doesn't have an address book. Your E-mail client performs these functions if you need them.

Fig. 7

One final note, please delete unwanted messages from the server either by deleting them with Mail Siphon or downloading them to your E-mail client. The WAP POP server has a limited hard disk capacity and we don't have the space to act as an IMAP server (where messages are retained on the server for later viewing instead of downloaded to your computer).

Mail Siphon II US 2.0.2 is shareware written by Alexandre Carlhian, Malia Software at <http://www.maliasoft.com>. You may register on the Web, by mail, by E-mail or by fax for $15 and will receive an unlocking code after receipt of payment. The shareware is fully functional when installed but will continue to remind you to pay until you enter the unlocking code. Figure 7 shows the Mail Siphon folder contents after installation.


Dave Weikert previously wrote the Macintosh Disketeria column for the Journal. He has promised to write an occasional article about his favorite shareware and freeware.