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Integrate webmail into your desktop with Affixa

11 May 2012, Nick Peers

One of the major drawbacks of switching to a web-based email provider like Gmail or Yahoo! is that your desktop hasn’t cottoned on to your new way of working. Sure, you can access your email via your web browser, effectively liberating you from a single email program on a single PC, but it seems your desktop hasn’t caught up with progress.

You’ll know what we mean: click an email link on a web page, or attempt to attach a file to an email directly from another program and you’ll either open an unwanted relic from the past like Outlook, or get some error message. Before throwing your PC out of the window, however, discover how a free software program called Affixa can soothe your furrowed brow.

The problem lies in the fact web-based email has no means of using the Messaging API (MAPI) protocol to communicate with programs like Word that use it to integrate with traditional email programs. Affixa basically acts as the MAPI interface, intercepting calls from programs and redirecting them to supported webmail clients, namely Gmail and Yahoo! for personal users, and Office 365, Google Apps, Outlook Web App and Zimbra for enterprise users.

The hardest part of Affixa is setting it up - and that's not difficult.

The free version is limited for non-commercial use only, and only allows you to use it with a single client. However, it includes an attachment basket that allows you to drag and drop multiple files from different sources into a single place before magically attaching them all to a single email. And it also provides a limited drop service where you can store up to 100MB of files online for up to a month should your file attachment exceed the size permitted by your webmail provider.

All of this is good stuff, but should you shell out the princely sum of two British pounds (around $3.20) for an annual subscription, you’ll get even more goodies: that dropbox service jumps to 1GB and is good for a year, multiple accounts are supported (you can even switch between desktop and webmail accounts on a whim), plus you can compress attachments and resize pictures too.

It all adds up to an essential service for anyone looking to wave bye bye to email clients and hello to pure, unadulterated web-based email.

Affixa is available as a free-for-personal-use download for PCs running Windows XP or later. The .NET Framework 2.0 or 3.5 may also be required, while an annual subscription for £2 (around $3.20) can also be purchased for commercial use or to gain additional features.

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