Software

Review: EverDesk Optima e-mail client

EverDesk Optima aims to change the e-mail game by treating individual e-mails more like documents than traditional e-mail clients do. Justin James reviews the application.

E-mail client EverDesk Optima aims to change the e-mail game by treating individual e-mails more like documents than traditional e-mail clients do. Sadly, a few glitches plague the product, a few important pieces of functionality are missing, and many users will have a hard time adjusting to its paradigm.

Specifications

Who's it for?

If your e-mails are tightly related to your projects, EverDesk Optima is designed for you. Users who are willing to spend the time needed to learn to use its feature set will be able to leverage it well. It has some functionality that is very innovative in the e-mail management space.

What problems does it solve?

Traditional e-mail clients often do not offer e-mail organization beyond simple folder trees, and certainly do not connect the "dots" between your e-mail and your documents. EverDesk Optima is designed to bridge the gap between e-mail and documents, and to act as a unified interface between both. By storing e-mails directly within the file system, and providing unified search across e-mails and documents, EverDesk Optima really integrates e-mail management into the rest of your workflow.

Standout Features

  • Interesting Mail Paradigm: The idea of treating e-mails as documents and having the "e-mail client" more of a document viewer (combined with handling the sending/receiving) is an intriguing idea that many e-mail-oriented workers will appreciate.
  • E-mails storage: By storing each e-mail directly within the file hierarchy, many of the issues that trouble other applications like corrupted e-mails stores and slowdown are avoided. By treating attachments as separate files, it is possible to organize information better.
  • Search: EverDesk Optima's search functionality is well done, particularly when using multiple search criteria.
  • Contact Management: The contact management is well done. The idea of giving each folder a list of contacts automatically populated from to/from addresses can be very useful.
  • Speed: The speed of the application is very impressive, and it consistently feels snappy. Viewing e-mails was instantaneous, even with a lot of images.
  • User Interface: The user interface is clean and uncluttered.

What's wrong?

  • Interesting Mail Paradigm: Not every user will appreciate EverDesk Optima's unique vision of e-mail. For example, in keeping with the "e-mails as documents" concept, new e-mails are stored by default in the folder you were in when you started the e-mail; there is no "sent items" folder like in other mail clients. This may confuse casual users.
  • User Interface: While the interface may be clean and uncluttered, many items are lacking tooltips and have unfamiliar icons, which makes the application a little difficult to get use to. Some things (like the "Quickboard," a glorified shortcut bar) waste space. The e-mail details in the grid layout cannot be changed (other than width of columns) that I found.
  • No Exchange Connectivity, Limited IMAP Connectivity: EverDesk Optima only supports POP3 and SMTP, and has limited IMAP abilities. The lack of Exchange/MAPI capability is a non-starter in many organizations.
  • Glitches: I experienced a number of glitches in my usage, including some difficulty importing e-mails (I did get contacts just fine) from Outlook, search relying upon the Indexing Service (which was not activated or mentioned as a requirement during installation), and e-mails "lose" the connection to attachments when moved out of the folder the attachment is in. I found a button in the settings that did not seem to work at all. When EverDesk Optima is open, working within Windows Explorer in "My Documents" has problems; you must rename items through Optima, for example.
  • Missing Functionality: EverDesk Optima cannot import user account information from other applications, which would be very helpful. As mentioned, the user interface is not as customizable as one would hope for. It lacks the full range of Outlook functionality (such as "Tasks" and SharePoint integration), which may be a blessing in disguise. Virtual folders based upon search criteria are also missing. E-mail editing has limited layout capabilities.

Competitive Products

Bottom line for business

If your organization does not implement the full Microsoft enterprise stack (Exchange, SharePoint, Outlook, etc.) and can live with using POP3/SMTP for e-mail, EverDesk Optima is definitely a possible winner for at least some of your information workers. It has a unique approach to e-mail management that takes some getting used to, but for people who integrate e-mail tightly into their workflow, it can be very useful. Having a clean slate to work with has allowed EverDesk to create an e-mail tool that is not held back by the assumptions of previous generations of products.

On the other hand, the e-mail paradigm may be a bit too unique for users who are not willing to take the time to understand it. In addition, much of the missing functionality (views, search folders, customizable columns, etc.) are exactly the features that e-mail power users are used to having and depend upon.

Overall, the product does a great job at taking a fresh look at how heavy e-mail users work. There is a lot of "Easter egg" hidden functionality that when discovered (such as dragging a file to "New Message" to start a message with the file attached) that can save you time. However, there is a good chance that the missing features and minor glitches will hold you back more than its approach to e-mail will benefit you.

User Rating

Have you used EverDesk Optima, or have an opinion on it after reading this article? If so, let us know what you thought of it!

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

6 comments
AlexRoe
AlexRoe

I've been looking for something like this for ages, but with limited IMAP functionality, I guess I'll just have to keep looking - or hope this evolves.

jedmundson
jedmundson

In your section, What's Wrong; *This may make confuse casual users*? That confused Me and I'm an IT professional who lives by e-mail.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you experimented with different e-mail clients? Has your organization considered a switch? What are you looking to gain and what are you afraid to lose?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Thanks for noticing - just a typo. Edit: I fixed it.

davidb
davidb

I handle the IT for a small architecture firm with a small to nothing IT budget. I am constantly dealing with outlook issues generated by the user and/or Outlook. To solve these issues and free-up my time, I am building and currently testing a new email system using Mozilla Thunderbird/lighting integrated with Google apps. Thunderbird's features, the ability to integrate with google apps, and add-ons makes it more powerful than Outlook in our situation. If I had a deeper IT budget then I may consider building on Outlook. Thunderbird handles IMAP much better than Outlook, feels snappy to the user, and so far doesn't slow down the system. I am very happy with the results at the moment and will be rolling out the new system in a few weeks. Added Note: The one thing that I have not solved yet with Thunderbird is creating a more fool-proof way for people to file their attachments to the server. However, its almost impossible to make something fool-proof when people are just too lazy to file attachments anyway.

rob.pilgrim
rob.pilgrim

I've been using Everdesk for a number of years now. As with all email programs there are certain quirks and a learning curve, but for me the way that Optima uses the My Documents Folders as the tree for email storage is a far superior approach than having everything in a completely separate database. This is confirmed for me every time that I have to use Outlook at work and need to find the Spredasheet/Word/or pdf files relating to a particular email - with Optima they are all together and that makes managing my home business much easier - and hence increases my profits because I'm not searching for documentation in a variety of different places.