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I am still looking for my perfect email client. In my quest, I have tried a lot of applications, some for a few hours, some for a few days, some for a few months, even some for more than a year. Two I even paid for. In this process, I have always managed to somehow get my messages out of one client and into the next. Until I tried Courier for a few months.


Courier comes pretty close to being my perfect client. It has the drawback that development on it has stopped for several years, but the overriding thing which decided me to stop using it was that it is so very slow. It seems to build it's indexes afresh on each entry and, if you're unlucky enough to have your computer power down or crash with Courier open, well, you can look forward to the computer being locked up for several minutes the next time you open it while Courier verifies and rebuilds it's database.


One thing that a lot of people like about Courier but which makes me decidedly uneasy is that it provides the ability to edit messages already sent or received. I want my emails to stand as a record of communications "carved in stone" and I don't want the ability, or the temptation, to alter them.


A nice aspect of Courier is that it uses a single integrated database file for everything; all email messages in all folders, address book and all settings. This, together with the fact that it is not buried in some obscure location under "Documents and Settings", makes backup very easy. But the backup doesn't do you any good unless you have a copy of Courier to access it. And, as I said above, this approach (or the way it is implemented) does seem to make everything very slow.


The Courier database file is encrypted and in a proprietary binary format. Until now there has been no facility to export complete email messages from the Courier database. Courier does have the facility to create "archives". These are individual email messages in plain text form, accompanied by any attachments in binary form in a subfolder. Previous attempts at producing an export utility for Courier have focused on these archives, and have not yielded completely satisfactory results.


Partly because I didn't know even of these semi-successful utilities when I started, I decided to write my own export utility. It was supposed to be a quick and simple private project, but it grew - mainly because I made the mistake of talking about it in public! Through the co-operation of some good folks at WindowsBBS and others, it has now been tested with a variety of different mailboxes, so I'm fairly confident that it will work with yours. It also acquired a name: Courex!


Courex skips the middle-man and exports directly from the Courier database file. Courex exports to eml and mbox files. The eml and mbox formats are relatively standard and are recognized by most email client applications for the import of email data complete with attachments.


During initial discussion and testing of Courex, it became apparent that almost everyone who was contemplating a move away from Courier was focussing on Mozilla Thunderbird. Thunderbird uses the mbox format as it's native mailbox format, so it was relatively easy to provide some Thunderbird-specific extensions to Courex.