Use a Send-Only Email Client to Increase Productivity at Work

Q: Whenever I go to send a new email at work, I'm distracted by any messages that have come in since I last opened my client. Responding to messages as they come in can be terribly distracting; it would be much more efficient if I could answer several notes at once. There must be a better way of handling email in the workplace.

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A: When you're working, it's hard not to use email at all -- you often need whatever email client you use in the office to organize meetings and check your calendar, and there are just some messages that have to be sent. The problem is that every time you go to send a message -- OK, every time that I go to send a message -- you glance at the latest notes in your inbox and find that one or more of them unavoidable. If you don't respond right away, it's going to bother you; you won't be able to forget about it until it's been answered.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a solution if you're a Mac OS X user: Set up a second email client, this one unable to receive messages, only to send them. TUAW's TJ Luoma tried a couple of different options (Thunderbird, Mail.app) before settling on Mailsmith, a client developed by Bare Bones. With a second client you can stay logged in all day to send necessary emails, only logging in to your full-function client when you have set aside some time for responding to messages.

"Mailsmith was ideal for several reasons: First, Mailsmith understands the concept of a 'Send Only' account," Luoma writes, meaning that you don't need to spend a lot of time trying to hack the preferences and configurations to get the client operating the way you want. The other reasons: "Since it is a real mail client, I can set it as the OS X default and have new messages started in it, plus it will auto-complete email addresses as I type them. As a bonus, Mailsmith can also be configured to create a new blank email message whenever the application is launched or activated by either click on the dock icon or activated via LaunchBar, Alfred, etc. when it is already running."

To get started, download Mailsmith. Setting up the client to function as a send-only program is fairly straightforward. Navigate to 'Accounts' under the 'Window' drop-down menu. Leave all fields blank under the 'Checking' tab before navigating to the 'Sending' tab and entering the necessary information. If you're a Gmail user, Google has step-by-step instructions for sending via SMTP through its own program.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Image: Mailsmith.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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