Repairing Eudora’s damage: painful

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 26th, 2003 • 8:53 pm

Two days ago I wrote an item on Eudora, Mailsmith and Mail in which I mentioned the numerous old messages imported from Eudora that I had in my Mail archive and that were seriously screwed up, with incomplete subject lines, messed-up headers, and raw HTML code or bad character encoding in their body section.

John Gruber was kind enough to provide me with some insight and to point me to a software tool called Eudora Mailbox Cleaner that was designed to solve the problem.

Yesterday I downloaded the tool (which is free) and today I decided that I had to do something about all these old messages. The problem is that Eudora Mailbox Cleaner is an mail importing tool that replaces Mail’s built-in importing tool and therefore needs to be used when importing Eudora mailboxes. It cannot be used after the fact, i.e. after HAVING already imported Eudora mailboxes INTO Mail.

The solution in my case is to re-import all these old Eudora mailboxes (which I have kept, of course) using Eudora Mailbox Cleaner (they SHOW up in Mail in a mailbox called “Import”, just like they do when you use Mail’s built-in importing tool) and then REPLACE all the screwed-up old messages with the newly imported ones.

However, since my mailbox archive consists of many mailbox folders containing many mailbox folders containing many mailbox folders, etc., it turns out to be a rather painstaking process. I made the switch from Eudora to Mail (via Mailsmith, but it turns out that this does not matter much) around the middle of August 2002. So I have to go to each and everyone of my mailboxes, SELECT all the messages that are older than August 15, 2002, DELETE them, find the equivalent messages in the Eudora mailboxes newly imported using Eudora Mailbox Cleaner, and transfer them to the appropriate location.

This is something that I have to repeat several hundred times! I suppose that there might be a way to automate some of it, but I am not proficient enough in AppleScript, and Mail’s AppleScript support is not that good from what I understand. In addition, the problem is further complicated by the fact that my current mailbox archive structure does not exactly match the one that I used to have in August 2002. There are certain things that I have reorganized since then, which means that some messages that used to be together in the same mailbox in August 2002 are now in separate mailboxes, and vice versa. There is simply no way that I could automate this.

So here I am, trying to use two “Mail Viewer” windows in Mail concurrently, one to locate and SELECT the newly imported messages, and the other one to locate and open their destination and DELETE the bad imported ones first. This process is making me painfully aware, once again, of the limitations of the Mail user interface when it comes to mailbox management. For example, even if you have a mailbox open in one Mail Viewer, you cannot SELECT messages in the other Mail Viewer and drag and DROP them onto the message list area. The only way to transfer them to the destination mailbox is to drag and DROP them on the mailbox icon itself in the Mailboxes drawer.

In addition, Mail is constantly recoloring messages. The recoloring process (based on my coloring rules in Mail’s preferences) is initiated as soon as you open a given mailbox. It is a background process and you can continue to do whatever you want to do at the same time, but it has an impact on the performance of Mail just the same, and thus interferes with the very boring actions that I have to repeat again and again. I am the kind of user who can be very fast once he’s found a “rhythm” for repetitive tasks. But Mail’s recurring fits of slight sluggishness prevent me from keeping that rhythm, making the process even more tedious.

In any case, I am about half-way through — but I still have dozens of mailboxes to go through. At least once it’s done I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that all my mailboxes are “clean” and contain only messages with fully formed headers, proper character encoding, etc. No more “x-stuff-for-pete” stuff!

I must also congratulate the author of Eudora Mailbox Cleaner. The tool is extremely fast (much faster than Mail’s own importing tool) and the results are spotless as far as I can tell. Best of all: The software is free. You cannot beat that.

The next time I have to move someone from Eudora to Mail, I’ll know what to do!

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