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March 2015

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Managing Email Deluge

Doth thy Inbox runneth over? There are several strategies to keeping your e-mail manageable without spending huge amounts of time organizing, filtering, searching, and deleting messages while still keeping your critical messages saved and above the fray. Here are a few:

Email Client Software

Outlook, Thunderbird, Opera, Eudora, and Zimbra are just a few of the software applications specifically designed to help people manage their email. They work by downloading emails (or possibly just message headers) to your computer. They then allow you to read, respond to, and otherwise organize your email. Some of the significant advantages over webmail (i.e. working directly with the email on the server through a web browser like Internet Explorer or Chrome) are as follows:

(1) A local copy of your email means that all the actions relating to your email (reading, filtering, deleting, etc.) are much faster since you’re not working through the network, browser, web site, etc. every time that you initiate something regarding your email.

(2) You get an extra copy of your email on your computer. This means that you now have two copies of your email -or- that you can safely delete emails from your email server if it’s nearing the quota. Local email storage usually has no such limit. Also, you can still refer to your email even if either your network or the email server is down.

(3) Email software allows you to pull email messages from several different accounts and organize those messages centrally.

(4) Email software tends to include more features and increased flexibility for handling emails - in contrast to most webmail interfaces. This gives you more power at the starting gate on what you can do with your email.

(5) Email software also represents a more standardized and stable interface for working with your email. By contrast, webmail interfaces can have wildly disparate user-interfaces and features. Where is that Send button?!

Message Filtering

Most email interfaces include a method whereby one can specify which messages get directed to which folders, one of which may be Junk or Trash, or which messages may be automatically deleted upon arrival.  The downside is that over-zealous filtering may correctly sort your email to the proper folder. However, since a person wasn’t involved and didn’t see that message come through, important email may escape the user’s notice. Some good filtering ideas:

(1) Filter messages that have been tagged by the email server as “bulk” or “junk” into a Bulk and/or Junk folder.

(2) Filter messages from senders who are NOT in one’s address book to a bulk-email folder. I call mine “More”. This one filter means that I end up examining only a handful of emails in my Inbox per day vs. the tens/hundreds of spam-type messages that get shunted aside.

(3) Filter messages that you know to be low-priority (e.g Quora Digest, listservs, etc.) into an appropriate subfolder for later (if ever) perusal.

(4) Keep folders for email that you know you’ll want to save (ex. emails regarding purchasing or billing, including receipts: “Vendors”, emails from friends and family: “Personal”, advice from savvy professionals: ”Tips”). These folders can then be broken down into subfolders if desired. Filters can shunt email to the appropriate folder automatically. Just be sure to check for unread mail in these subfolders.

(5) Don’t bother trying to filter away every single spam item that might arrive.  Just shunt everything that may or may not be important away from the Inbox, leaving only items that you can be fairly sure are important (e.g. from address book contacts, including -your- bank, utilities, etc.) to go through in the Inbox. Then scan through the shunted messages (i.e. “More”), salvaging anything of interest that got mixed up in the sludge. Then do a bulk delete on the remainder, bringing us to…

Bulk Delete

Do NOT delete messages one-at-a-time, especially if you’re using webmail. Each delete may take a full second or two. Do you want to spend your life deleting spam? For webmail, make sure that you can see at least one hundred messages on one screen. Then select all and delete. Just be sure to salvage anything important first.

With email software, be sure that the option “delete email from the server when I delete email” or some such option is checked. In Outlook and Thunderbird, it’s found in Account Settings.


In Outlook, under Account Settings | Data Files, one can create an additional PST file to hold a completely new set of emails. Emails that you’d like to save can be transferred to that new data file. This creates an effective archive. That data file can be loaded or not when Outlook starts, depending on one’s preference. Another method is to simply create additional subfolders named Archive, 2013, Old Clients, etc.

In Thunderbird, archiving is much easier. You need to manually create archive folders and populate them. Once this is done, just move the appropriate files and folders named as archives from the profile folder on the hard drive to a different hard drive folder. Thunderbird won’t load them unless they’re in the profile folder. The profile folder is referenced under Account Settings | Server Settings | Local Directory.  Those files and folders can always be moved back if you need to reference those archives again.


The secret of efficient email handling is for your system to automatically identify the emails that most likely need to be dealt with (e.g. from clients), collaborate with your computer to save away the emails that may be of interest someday, personally scan the rest, and when satisfied that there’s nothing worth keeping in that huge mass, use a bulldozer on it.

A Nice Laser Printer

My old laser printer was taking longer and longer to warm up. The prints quality was going steadily down. When smudges started to appear on prints, I cleaned the rollers. That didn’t help. Then, a short time later, it failed altogether. It was time for a new printer.

I was looking for an inexpensive, reliable monochrome network-accessible printer. Duplex printing would be a great bonus. I chose the Brother HL-L2380DW. I paid $99+shipping. It includes duplex printing, scanning, and copying. I didn’t need the scanning and copying; but, they don’t hurt. Best, I’ve really been happy with the quality.  Solid black prints solid black with no grey areas or “banding”. We’ll see how that holds up as the printer ages. If prints quickly with about 3 seconds of warm-up time and no blowing fan 10 minutes after the fact. It does feel a little cheap and plastic; but, I’ve been very satisfied so far.

See http://www.brother-usa.com/Printer/ModelDetail/1/HLL2380DW#.VRqxteH95oM

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