Toolbox: New Products for IT Professionals
This month’s tools will help you verify e-mail messages sent via a messaging service, seamlessly integrate multiple monitors, and copy and paste plain text.
When you use an e-mail messaging service, you want to make sure you’re sending the right message to the right people. Now you can test new e-mail messaging services and applications with smtp4dev.
This free, open source utility spawns a local SMTP server that will listen for incoming messages. Instead of relaying those messages out to the world, it parses them and lets you verify the contents and intended recipients. You no longer have to worry about sending the wrong message out “into the wild.”
You won’t need to install this utility; smtp4dev is a portable executable. Just double-click to launch. The smtp4dev interface is split into two tabs: Messages and Sessions. The Messages tab lets you see inbound messages with a timestamp, subject and list of recipients. Once a message comes in, click View to see the message or save it as an .eml file for later. There are also Delete and Delete All buttons for clearing out previous messages.
Inspect is the most useful button. This shows you the internal details of the message, including the raw source, e-mail headers, e-mail body and individual MIME parts—all of which are great for troubleshooting. There’s also a Start/Stop Listening button to quickly enable and disable the host. Smtp4dev also minimizes to the taskbar with a context menu and balloon notifications.
By default, smtp4dev launches an SMTP listener on port 25, bound to all local IP addresses. However, you can set server options including the port, interface and server domain name if you need an alternate configuration. You can also enable implicit or explicit SSL/TLS connections, point smtp4dev to a certificate to verify secured communication, and opt to require authentication and secure connections, including support for clear text authentication of secured connections.
Other server options include AUTH, SIZE and 8BITMIME support, as well as max message size and timeouts. You can have smtp4dev start automatically after login, show balloon notifications of incoming messages, set the maximum number of e-mail messages to keep per session or automatically view or inspect all inbound messages. The smtp4dev tool even has a built-in update check, so you can be sure to have the latest version of this utility.
All in all, smtp4dev is a useful tool. The next time you’re writing a script to send e-mail or testing a new system or service, give the free, open source smtp4dev a try.
These days, a multimonitor setup is almost a necessity. Windows supports multiple monitors, but those additional displays are treated as secondary to the primary display with your Start menu and taskbar. That’s where a multimonitor management application comes into play.
There are a number of multimonitor “enhancement” products. One of the better options is DisplayFusion Pro from Binary Fortress Software Ltd. DisplayFusion Pro gives you useful features such as taskbars across monitors, helpful hotkeys, title bar action buttons, display profiles, window management and location features, as well as additional features like multimonitor screensavers, Windows logon background image and wallpaper management tweaks.
The multimonitor taskbars are particularly useful. DisplayFusion Pro replicates start menus and taskbar icons, giving you options to either show open applications across taskbars or on the relevant taskbar where the application window resides. Using the taskbar shortcut management tool, you can easily add per-taskbar shortcuts to launch applications with command-line arguments, choose custom icons and force the application to launch to a particular monitor.
DisplayFusion Pro has window management hotkey support that lets you cycle, move, snap, resize, restore and span applications across monitors with a customizable keystroke combination. There are TitleBar buttons for each application that perform like hotkeys. You can customize these buttons, so you can add as many or as few as you prefer.
DisplayFusion Pro has built-in profile features that let you save and switch between layouts, resolutions and features with a few clicks. For example, you could set up profiles for your laptop to easily switch between your multimonitor docking station setup, projector setup, remote-access setup and the default on-the-go laptop settings.
DisplayFusion Pro has a number of features for window management and location. You can snap windows to the edge of screens or other applications with a definable pixel buffer. You can force applications to open on specified monitors. You can also enable maximized-window dragging, tooltips to show the size and position, and middle-click window moving. If an application has trouble with any of your settings, there’s a compatibility feature within DisplayFusion Pro that lets you tailor settings for those cranky apps.
You can also tailor the Windows logon background image to a local image or even pull images from Flickr.com. You can span screensavers across monitors or have different screensavers on each monitor. Most DisplayFusion settings are available via the taskbar icons context menu, giving you quick and easy access to your profiles, settings and features.
DisplayFusion Pro starts at $25 for a single license, and $645 for an unlimited license. There are also personal and multisite licenses available. There’s a free version without the multimonitor taskbar, saved monitor profiles and the window location tool, and a few other features. There’s also a 30-day trial of the Pro version available for download.
Have you ever copied something into your clipboard and brought along way too much formatting? Sometimes you just want to copy and paste as straight text with no frills. You could keep Notepad open, copy data from the source, paste it into Notepad to remove any formatting, and then copy that and paste it into your destination—but who wants that extra step?
There’s a free, simple, small and portable utility that strips out any rich formatting and just copies text: PureText by Steve P. Miller. PureText works with all flavors of Windows from Windows 95 to Windows 7. Running in your system tray, this utility gives you a quick hotkey combination to paste clipboard data as “pure” text.
The default hotkey combination is the Windows key plus V, but you can choose any other combination to suit your needs. Other options include playing a sound when you press the hotkey combination, defaulting to paste data into the currently selected window, and automatically running PureText each time you log on to Windows. So if you’re tired of the two-step Notepad approach, take a look at PureText and see if this tool can help. After all, it’s free.
**Greg Steen **is a technology professional, entrepreneur and enthusiast. He’s always on the hunt for new tools to help make operations, QA and development easier for the IT professional.