April 29, 2002

Mulberry: A powerful, multi-platform email client

Author: JT Smith

- By Kevin Savetz -

Email clients are a dime a dozen. A good one is a little harder to find. A
good one that works on three operating systems is downright rare. Mulberry is just that -- a graphical email client that runs on Linux, Windows, and MacOS.
Mulberry is a full-featured mail program -- there's not much more that even
a jaded email addict could ask for. It includes a spell-checker, email
rules, address books, and powerful search and sorting tools. It also
supports plug-ins -- these add support for the GnuPG PGP implementation and
the ability to fetch email using SSL.

Mulberry's interface

Mulberry supports both IMAP and POP3 protocols as well as local Unix
mailboxes -- you can have multiple mailboxes open simultaneously, mixing and
matching protocols. If you're sick of email programs that seem to implement
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) as an afterthought, you'll love
Mulberry. The developers are apparently crazy about the protocol. In fact,
IMAP came first in Mulberry -- POP3 support is a relatively recent addition.

Rich text and file attachments are handled well: All versions of the program
support MIME, uuencoding, Binhex, AppleSingle, and AppleDouble encodings,
making it painless to exchange files with associates using any platform.
However, I had some trouble automatically decoding uuencoded
attachments. The program lacks a preview pane function -- that is, the ability to see
what's in a message before you open it. It's a function that I can't stand
in other email programs, but somebody must enjoy that sort of thing and
might miss it in Mulberry.

Mulberry's easy-to-set rules

Mulberry offers plenty of obscure functions, which will make email geeks
happy. You can request a return receipt when your message is delivered, but
I couldn't figure out how to create arbitrary X-whatever: headers even
though the Web site says this is possible. You can copy messages between
mailboxes simply by dragging them. LDAPv3, Whois++, CSO, and Ph address
lookups aren't supported yet, but are "coming soon," according to the

Although source code is not offered, binaries are available for a wide
variety of platforms. The *nix version of Mulberry officially supports
Red Hat 5.x and 6.x running on x86, LinuxPPC, and Solaris running on Sparc
and x86 processors. Unofficially, it works on other *nix variants, including
FreeBSD, Debian, and SuSE. The MacOS version works with 68K and PowerPC Macs
running System 7.1 to OS X -- the latter version is Carbonized, so there's
no need to mess around in Classic mode. The Windows version requires Win95
or later on a 486 or faster machine.

If you use more than one operating system, you'll be happy to know that
Mulberry is consistent across platforms. Buttons and functions are in the
same place from OS to OS, but the program never feels like a port -- the
Windows version behaves like a Windows program should, and the OS X version
behaves like it should. You generally won't notice a function in one version
on lacking in another, but there are minor differences that take into account
special features of each operating system. For instance, the MacOS version
includes support for Internet Config and the ability to speak messages
aloud. The Windows version can be configured to use rooted or independent
floating windows.

Mulberry¹s built-in help is inconsistent from platform to platform: the
Windows version is the only one with a truly helpful help system. Help in
the Linux version is minimal, mostly links to the Web site; and help is
missing altogether from the MacOS X version. This is a minor quibble,
because the program is fairly intuitive. Mulberry¹s lack of help is redeemed
by its Web site, which provides OS-specific FAQs and mailing lists for
discussion and news.

You can try Mulberry for free for 30 days -- after that, you've got to buy
. A single copy costs
$34.95, plus $4 if you want PGP. Multi-user licenses are available.

All in all, Mulberry is a great email client -- stable, easy to use, and
filled with features for power users. It might not be the perfect email
client for you, but it is definitely worth checking out, no matter which
operating system you use.

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