Sending E-mail to a group
April 23, 2006 3:37 PM   Subscribe

What's a good Windows-based program for sending daily blind carbon copy E-mails to a small group of people (like 10 or 20)?

The easy solution is that I could just paste all the recipients in PocoMail (the client I use) but I'm worried about, in some morning brain fog, accidentally pasting them all in the cc: rather than bcc: field and spilling all their identities (client confidentiality is important). So I want this to be automated.

Dreamhost (which I use) has an announcements list feature, but what they don't tell you is that messages go into a queue. Your message to ---- has been successfully sent to our announcement list queue. It will be received by the list members within an hour of when you scheduled it! Indeed the messages take 10+ minutes to get sent. No dice. My E-mails are time-sensitive.

It seems that there has GOT to be a simple program that simply looks at a flatfile of E-mail addresses and sends text to each user. Heck, I'd be glad to batch script this if there was a simple EXE out there for sending E-mail that didn't require compilation and a mess of third-party libraries.

Infacta GroupMail is one solution but it's way overkill. Majordomo is also overkill -- I can't deal with a lot of configuration and limited portability. It doesn't have to be this complicated.
posted by rolypolyman to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
You might consider trying Mozilla Thunderbird. It includes a quick and simple interface for mail groups.

From the main window, select Address Book. Press New List, and then paste your addresses. Select a name for the list and press OK.

From Thunderbird, press Write. Change To to Bcc, and then enter the name of your group. Compose your message and press Send.
posted by scoria at 3:51 PM on April 23, 2006

I think you might be looking for Blat.
posted by flabdablet at 5:02 PM on April 23, 2006

If you already have Word and Outlook, then you can do a Mail Merge. Does just what you're looking for, with the added ability to personalize each message.
posted by team lowkey at 1:21 AM on April 24, 2006

In Eudora, I can make Address Book entries with as many email addresses included as I want, separated with semi-colons (or maybe commas? I forget. Anyway, separated with something).

Then just typing in the "name" for the address book entry will auto-expand the list.

So I guess what I'm saying is, can you make an address book entry in pocomail called Board Members (or what-have-you) and just add a bunch of addresses to it? This might seem ridiculously obvious but sometimes we overlook simple solutions.
posted by bcwinters at 7:41 AM on April 24, 2006

RTFQ, people!

The issue is not the ability to send mail easily to multiple recipients; rolypolyman can do that already. The issue is to send mail easily to multiple recipients while guaranteeing that no accidental brain fart can reveal their addresses to each other.

Which is why he asked for a scriptable tool.

Blat is exactly what he asked for: a simple EXE for sending E-mail that doesn't require compilation or a mess of third-party libraries.

Unless you've tested your favorite email client's mailing-list feature and made sure it's stumble-proof, you're not addressing the issue.

FWIW, I just checked my Thunderbird, and it does indeed reveal all recipient addresses in a list mail, if you forget to use Bcc: instead of To:.
posted by flabdablet at 8:55 AM on April 24, 2006

I RTFQ, TYVM, and if he has Word and Outlook, then he doesn't need to write his own batch script. It's already done for him, for just this purpose. The Mail Merge function in Word reads an Excel or a simple text file for its addresses (and any other info you want to personalize) and sends a single message to each recipient, so no one sees anyone else's address. You need Outlook because it uses the MAPI interface. You can use PocoMail or whatever else for your day-to-day mail client, but you need to have Outlook installed and configured for Word to be able to send its messages out.

You may still want to write your own batch script with Blat or the XP function MAPISEND, if you want full automation. If you do, write a loop to send an individual message to each person, rather than a single message with everyone bcc'ed. Some people and mail programs don't like a bunch of people in the bcc field. It's confusing to the user to not see their address in the "to" field, and spam filters find it suspicious. Personally, I think writing and testing your own script is going to be more error prone than just using your existing mail client, but that's up to you.
posted by team lowkey at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2006

YVW, and GFY for being one of four who actually did RTFQ - or at least the first two paragraphs. Perhaps you missed the part where he talked about overkill, limited portability and complexity of configuration.

Word and Outlook can certainly work as you describe, but rolypolyman was looking for a good and simple Windows-based program, which I personally took to mean that the use of a pair of evil and complicated ones was ruled out :^)

FWIW, can also mailmerge to email, and AFAIK it works with just about any email client rather than locking you in. Like Word, it will probably take a fair bit of fiddling to persuade it to send text (as opposed to word processor document attachments) which (once again) is what rolypolyman actually asked for.

Also FWIW, MAPISEND also only works if you have Outlook installed, doesn't appear to do anything that Blat can't do, and doesn't seem to have a bcc option at all.

posted by flabdablet at 4:12 AM on April 25, 2006

I don't have Outlook installed myself, and wouldn't recommend installing it just for this feature. I enjoy some good-old-fashioned MS bashing as much as the next guy.

But to be fair, if it is already there it is going to be the quickest and easiest way for most people to solve this problem. It's not overkill, it's not complicated, and the only portability issue it would make sense to worry about is the data file format, which can just be a tab delimited text file. There's no extra scripting to do, and no worry about making a mistake and blowing confidentiality. It just "looks at a flatfile of E-mail addresses and sends text to each user" (not an attached .doc), which is what rolypolyman actually asked for. [emphasis not mine] ;)

I didn't realize OpenOffice had a mail merge. And Blat does seem to be a good command line mail sender; certainly better than MAPISEND, since it is, of course, using MAPI. Good call on both. Always good to have different options. I would like to reiterate, however, that using bcc is not The Right Thing to do if scripting this process.
posted by team lowkey at 5:30 PM on April 25, 2006

In Thunderbird (and probably other email programs) you can create a template that can be used over and over. So you would just create an email once with the names in the bcc field. Double check it. Save it as a template. Then, whenever you want to send an email you just open the template and type in your subject and message. You won't need to do anything to the addresses when you send it.
posted by clarissajoy at 6:56 PM on April 26, 2006

D'oh! Templates! Of course! (strikes forehead a mighty blow)

Pocomail has this feature too.

I am pwn3d! Let's hope rolypolyman checks back here.
posted by flabdablet at 7:08 PM on April 26, 2006

Sorry. Bum link. Try here.
posted by flabdablet at 7:11 PM on April 26, 2006

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