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Agent 4.0 Release Notes

Notice to Upgraders

If you are upgrading from Agent 2.0 or Agent 1.x, please see our Getting Started for Users Upgrading from Agent 2.0 or Agent 1.x section. Note that Agent 4.0 is not backwards compatible with Agent 2.0 or Agent 1.x. Please make sure you back up your data before installing Agent 4.0.

Agent 4.0 is backwards compatible with Agent 3.x. However if you revert to Agent 3.x, data for several features (e.g. property schemes and the address book) will not be available in Agent 3.x.


Agent 4.0 provides many new Usenet and email features, adding usability, flexibility and depth to the features that all Agent users rely on. Here's just a sample of what we mean:

  • Managing unwanted messages: Improved crosspost detection, filtering on the "Newsgroups:" field and ignore subthread features for Usenet users, Bayesian junk detection for email users.
  • Security and privacy: Contact-based HTML display for both Usenet and email users; intelligent persona assignment so you never compromise your identity when sending messages.
  • Viewing messages: View HTML email and Usenet messages (but under your control); view images in the Message pane, or preview images in the Message List pane.
  • Handling binary messages: Automatically save attachments based on file type; new Usenet task management priorities so you get important messages first.
  • Simplifying folder properties: Folder property schemes to define properties for logically related folders.
  • Managing email: Route by identity, a new way of receiving and sending email that eliminates the need for complex rules and filters; email routing reports; intelligent advisor to help you route incoming email and send outgoing email correctly.

Agent 4.0 Usenet Features

Agent 4.0 includes the following features for Usenet users.

Image Display

Agent 4.0 provides a number of ways to view images. Working in the Message List pane you can preview images quickly. This is particularly useful in zoomed mode, allowing you to see the image but maintain focus in the Message List pane. Set your preferences for image previewing using the Image Preview panel on the Options dialog. You can turn image preview on or off using the Show Image Preview command on the View menu.

In the Message pane you can view images sent as attachments or sent inline as part of the message. You can view images actual size or shrink or expand the image to fit the Message pane. Set your preferences for images in the Message pane using the Message Body Images panel on the Options dialog.

Ignore Subthread

In previous versions of Agent you could ignore an entire thread. In this case Agent would retrieve the message headers in the thread but mark them all read. Now you can select a message anywhere in a message thread and ignore that message and any messages that are part of the response thread to that message. In other words, you can now ignore subthreads , not just entire message threads. Message filters that use the Ignore option can be pinpointed to specific subthreads.

Crosspost Detection

In previous versions of Agent you had the option to detect and process messages that were posted to more than one newsgroups. However Agent had an inherent limitation in the number of messages it could detect at any one time (65k). For large newsgroups, especially binary groups, this process was not useful. Also it was hard to determine to which folder the message should be posted. Agent has a new scheme that eliminates these problems and adds additional flexibility, allowing you to determine sets of newsgroups to which crosspost detection can be applied. Set preferences for crosspost detection using the Usenet Crossposting panel of the Default Properties for All Folders or the Properties for Selected Folder dialog.

Folder Property Schemes

One of the Agent's most powerful features is the ability to define default behavior (using Default Properties for All Folders) for all folders, then to override this behavior for specific folders (using Properties for Selected Folders). But when you start working with a large number of folders it can be difficult and tedious to set specific properties for each individual folder. Often it turns out that you have groups of folders that you want to have the same properties, but which are different from the default properties. To help make this easy and flexible, Agent offers folder property schemes . Create a scheme using the Property Schemes command on the Folder menu. Then select folders and assign the scheme to these folders using the Name and Scheme panel of the Properties for Selected Folders dialog. That's it. Now all those folders have the same properties, and if you want to make a change to the properties in all these folders, all you have to do is change the property in the scheme you've assigned to these folders.

Handling Message Attachments

When you work in binary newsgroups where many messages contain attachments it's hard to devise general rules for when you should save attached files to Windows, and which file types should be saved. Agent 4 adds new options to help you solve both problems.

Using the Saving Attachments panel of the Default Properties for All Folders or Properties for Selected Folder dialog you can specify whether Agent should save no attachments automatically, all attachments automatically, or, for the greatest flexibility, save certain file types automatically. For example, you may visit a binary group that has a large number of large attachments. The attachments can quickly fill up Agent's database for that folder, so it's best if you save them to Windows, then delete them from the folder. But to keep from cluttering your Windows directories you may want to save only certain types of files, like multimedia files (e.g. .avi, .mpg) or compressed files (e.g. .rar files). You can specify which types Agent will save, so you avoid problems of database capacity by saving certain files, but also avoid the problem of directory clutter by not saving other types.

Using the Attachment Folders panel of the Default Properties for All Folders or Properties for Selected Folders dialog you can specify where Agent saves attachments, based on your My Documents directory, your Agent Data directory or by specifying an absolute path. You can also have Agent name the directory the same as your Agent folder name. You'll see that the menu commands and configuration panels for saving attachments have been redesigned for power, flexibility and clarity.

Task Management

Previously Agent allowed a two-tiered priority scheme for executing tasks. Top priority was given to getting bodies for selected messages, and all other tasks were lumped together. So, for example, you could mark a number of messages for retrieval, then start this retrieval process. If you selected an individual message and retrieved it directly, without marking it, this retrieval task would go to the top of the queue and would be performed immediately.

Agent 4 offers much more flexibility in executing tasks. You can execute any task immediately by using the SHIFT key when you invoke the task. You'll see the priority retrieval icon instead of the usual retrieval icon so you'll know your task will be executed right away. Using the Usenet Tasks panel on the Options dialog you can tell Agent to retrieve or post messages with small bodies immediately, or to make Get Headers tasks high priority.

Folder Organization

We've added a new folder type and two new commands to help you organize your folders.

There is a new binary newsgroup folder type. When you define folders to be of this type, using the Name and Scheme panel on the Properties for Selected Folders dialog, you'll see this icon . Remember that defining a folder type allows you define views and sorting that applies to all folders of this type.

With Agent 4 you can sort your folders by name. Use the Folder menu, Sort Folders by Name command.

Also new to Agent 4, you can hide the All Folders desk . This allows you to focus only on the desks you're interested in. Use the View menu, Hide All Folders Desk command.

Usenet Filters

You can now filter on the "Newsgroups:" field in Usenet message headers.

Agent 4.0 Email Features

Email, while a breakthrough tool for personal communication, is not without its problems. We're inundated with unwanted messages offering unwanted products. For the messages we do want, organizing them effectively is a constant struggle. And beyond the difficulties in organization, communicating with family, friends, business associates, customers, online vendors and many others requires that we maintain different ways of presenting ourselves - formal for some contacts, informal for family and friends.

Agent 4.0 offers many new tools that help an email user solve these problems. We recommend that you read our help topic Introduction to Route by Identity for an overview of Agent's new approach to retrieving email and how you can integrate it into your upgraded version of Agent.

Junk Detection

Agent uses Bayesian filtering to detect junk messages and route them to your Junk folder . Set your preferences for junk detection using the Junk and Routing panel on the Options dialog. Here you can enable or disable junk detections, and you can set the sensitivity level for junk detection, fine-tuning how this feature works for you.

You can use Agent's email filters to perform junk detection. See the Add Filter dialog for details.

Route by Identity

Coupled with Bayesian junk detection, route by identity provides a new way of routing email messages based on your address book rather than complex filters or rules. You train Agent as a side-effect of filing messages in folders.

For an overview see our help topic Introduction to Route by Identity. For full details, see our help topic How Route by Identity Works.

Route by Domain

Route email messages sent using different email addresses, all from the same domain. For example, you may get several emails from an online shopping company:;; Agent will route anything from to the desired folder.

You can tell Agent to use route by domain in two ways. When you drag a message to a folder Agent will create the domain record automatically for you. You can also define a domain record directly in the Address Book.

Mailing Lists

Agent automatically detects inbound mailing lists in which you participate. Agent then knows how to route emails you receive from the mailing list and assure that your reply to the list using the correct information.

Junk and Routing Statistics

Agent keeps track of how well it's doing in detecting junk and routing your email messages to the correct folder. You can check on Agent's performance at any time using the Junk and Routing Statistics command on the Tools menu. You see the number of false positives and false negatives encountered, as well as the accuracy percentage for junk detection and message routing.

Filtering and Routing Explanation

For any message you have received you can find out how Agent determined how to route it. If a filter was used Agent will tell you which filter. If route by identity was used, Agent will tell you why. To open the Filter and Routing Explanation dialog, select Explain Routing from the Message menu, or click the Explain Routing icon at the top right of the message pane.

A powerful part of this feature is the ability to do "what-if experiments" on message routing. For example, you might change the priority on a filter to see if you would get a different routing result. This dialog will report how Agent actually did route the message, and how it would route it now, given the changes you made. This can help you fine-tune your message routing behavior.

Email Routing Report

If you get many emails each day and they are automatically routed to many different folders, you may have trouble keeping track of what message went where. Also, if you receive a lot of messages you may want to scan quickly to see what messages arrived so that you can read the most important ones first. Use the Review Recent Emails command on the Tools menu to open the Review Recent Email window and see a list of your messages, with time/date received, senders name or address, the folder in which the message was filed and the filter or rule used to route the message. You can jump directly to any message in the list so you can read it immediately.

HTML Email

Under your control Agent will display HTML email messages. You can disable any HTML display and view a text-only representation of the email if you like. Specify your preference using the Message Body Pane panel on the Options dialog.

You can choose to display HTML images only from contacts you trust, based on your address book. If you don't display the images, Agent will display an advisor which will tell you there are images to download and tell you what to do if you want to download the images. Set up HTML image display the way you want it using the HTML Messages panel on the Default Properties for All Folders or the Properties for Selected Folders dialog.

Agent's HTML display has limitations so that we can protect your safety. For any HTML message that is not displayed correctly, simply enter Ctrl+L to launch the message in your browser.

Address Book

Agent 4.0 offers a completely new address book. Your old Agent address book will be automatically upgraded to the new format. Using the new address book you can:

  • Enter multiple email addresses or phone numbers for a contact, classifying each in its context.
  • Use progressive search to find the record you want instantly.
  • For each contact specify a persona and filing folder, Then whenever you send a message to this contact, you'll always use the right information.
  • Define trusted contacts whose HTML messages you'll receive and display automatically.
  • Define other contacts whose messages you always want tested for junk.
  • Automatically build a trusted contact list that integrates with junk detection to avoid false positives.

The address book is the hub around which route by identity works, so Agent includes many ways for you to update your address book automatically.

Outbound Distribution Lists

Agent 4.0 has a new form for defining outbound distribution lists, which provides these features:

  • Enter a name or address directly, or use the Pick Address dialog to quickly find the contacts you want to add to the list.
  • Specify alternate text that will be displayed when the message is sent.
  • The Check Addresses dialog tells you if your list is correct and can be used successfully. If there are problems they are enumerated, together with links to the problem records so you can fix things immediately.

Personas / Filing Folder

Agent automatically picks the correct persona and filing folder when you compose new messages. There are several ways you can train Agent to have the correct information every time.

When you train Agent by dragging new emails to folders, Agent learns the correct filing folder.

The first time you send a message to a contact, Agent memorizes the persona and filing folder used. You can set both the persona and filing folder for a contact directly into the contact record in the address book.

Composition Window

Agent 4.0 adds a number of new features for composing messages.

An advisor, combined with the Explain Properties dialog, tells you all you need to know about how Agent determines the persona and filing folder for your message.

Agent automatically fills in the To, Cc and Bcc fields as you type in names or addresses. You can type any part of a name, nickname, or email address and Agent will find all matches in your address book, so you can select the correct one.

Folder Property Schemes

As with Usenet, you can use folder property schemes for quickly and accurately set properties for your email folders.

Learn More

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