Configuring Pocomail & Barca
Note: I no longer develop this page. It remains as a legacy resource.
This page will remain as a resource for those currently running Pocomail or Barca. However, I cannot provide decent support.
These programs may still work, even on 32-bit Windows 10, but they were designed for Windows XP running on 32-bit systems and are obsolete.
Using Pocomail or Barca with anything newer than Windows 7 is undocumented. The Poco Systems site and forums are no longer available.
I can't provide decent support for Pocomail or Barca without the day-to-day experience of using them. My Windows 10 experience with PocoMail is limited to 32-bit preview versions and a long time ago.
Both Have Significant Issues
Both Pocomail and Barca have significant issues:
- No support for secure email retrieval protocols used by most ISPs.
- HTML-based messages may not display properly.
Designed for XP
Pocomail or Barca were once my recommendation for a robust email program for people and businesses with heavier email demands.
References to Pocomail Include Barca
Barca takes the excellent email features included in Pocomail and adds a calendar, scheduler, diary and other features to make it a fully functioning Personal Information Manager (PIM).
Barca Professional adds the ability to share calendars with others on your network to efficiently schedule meetings and more.
Current User? Get the Latest Version
Be sure you're running the most recent version:
- Pocomail 4.8.
- Barca 2.8.
These were released in released on April 6, 2009 — a very long time ago.
Slavin, Pocomail's creator, posted a notice on October 5, 2011 on the Pocomail Forums.
Sadly, I believe I've run into a pretty solid wall with Pocomail and Barca development: it is now obvious to me that I can not reasonably expect to release an update to either Pocomail or Barca that I would feel comfortable charging money for.
Pocomail 5 has been an elusive goal for me: a combination of ever-expanding requirements due to Pocomail's aging development environment and Microsoft's push into new technologies with Windows 7 and just announced changes to Windows 8.
Pocomail platform would need to be pushed into the future, into something more modern than Delphi. Sadly, it is hard to motivate outside programmers to modernize a project like Pocomail in the days of Gmail, app stores, tablets, etc.
Sales Ended December 2011
Pocomail and Barca sales ceased in December 2011 — there is no longer any official support and the Pocomail Forums are no longer available.
It Still Works — But with Challenges
If you choose to continue to use Pocomail or Barca, you'll be glad to know that Barca 2 worked flawlessly on my 32-bit Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation (2012) and a 32-bit Windows 10 Preview (2015).
I suspect that current 64-bit versions will have at least the same challenges as 64-bit Windows 7.
The Technology Has Changed
Email technology has changed significantly since 2009 and there is now more emphasis on Web-based email services accessed across multiple devices.
Without ongoing development Pocomail has fallen behind and is no longer suitable for current email protocols.
HTML Messages Broken
It cannot accurately display some content (particularly e-newsletters) and there are issues with its default settings, even in Windows 7.
Recent versions of Microsoft Outlook have reverted to using MS Word for HTML messages to avoid this issue.
- As a result, some HTML-based messages designed for Outlook may not display as expected (or at all) in Pocomail (but they do in Thunderbird and The Bat!).
- Replies to messages composed in Outlook often stop quoting text where a list starts (the missing text can be copied manually, but it is inconvenient).
Alternatives to Pocomail
I've assessed a number of potential alternative email programs for existing Pocomail users but was difficult to replace.
In the process I've evaluated a number of other potential programs. See my email client recommendations.
The Bat! for Demanding Users
I recommend The Bat! for more demanding users.
It is very flexible and has some great features including internal HTML viewer, advanced message handling, OpenPGP encryption, security and more. The Bat! was my replacement when moving from Barca.
See Moving to The Bat! for help transferring from Pocomail or Barca.
Thunderbird for Light Users
For less demanding home users I recommend Mozilla Thunderbird.
Moving to Thunderbird
One minor post on the Poco Forums suggested the following method of moving your Pocomail messages to Thunderbird:
If you have Thunderbird, just copy the *.mbx file in the inbox folder of Thunderbird, delete the extension of the name ( *.mbx > * ) and open Thunderbird — there it is!
I haven't tried this and your mileage may vary. Be sure to retain backups.
What About Outlook?
Many people use Microsoft Outlook for email. Unfortunately I've had so much trouble with Outlook that I refuse to support it.
For those that would like to use Outlook and are moving from PocoMail, Stellar MBOX to PST Converter will convert a Pocomail mailbox to an Outlook PST file.
Moving to The Bat! Recommended
I'd recommend The Bat! Professional for those with heavier requirements (multiple email accounts, larger volumes of mail or more control).
- The Bat! is very flexible. Features include an internal HTML viewer, advanced message handling, OpenPGP encryption and security.
- The Bat! Voyager provides secure email via a USB drive and is included with The Bat! Professional.
- The Home version is an option for non-commercial use.
Full details and pricing are on the Email Software page.
Some Adjustment Needed
I did find that I had to change the way that I managed my email and email accounts. Some features in Pocomail are missing or confusing to new users:
- Pocomail allowed me to manage client accounts (separate email accounts) within an extended “Clients” subfolder using Pocomail's ability to choose any destination folder for incoming as well as sent mail. The Bat! required me to set up separate accounts for each email account.
- The “View Mail on Server” allowed me to manage server mail without having to log onto the webmail application (useful for dealing with a problem emails).
- The Bat! has no newsgroup component (newsgroups are rare today, mostly replaced with forums). Thunderbird will handle newsgroups.
- Install the AntispamSniper for The Bat! plugin then configure it in The Bat! (Options ⇒ Plugins). I recommend the commercial version.
- The Bat! saves draft messages in the Outbox (with an hourglass symbol to denote holding the message) rather than in a Drafts mailbox.
I was pleased to see that The Bat! was in several ways just as intelligent as Pocomail and in some ways better.
Exporting PocoMail's Mail, Contacts and Settings
There appears to be no direct way to import the multiple accounts, mail and contacts from Pocomail into today's email programs.
Old Import/Export Formats
Built in the days of Netscape and Eudora, Pocomail has a proprietary format.
Pocomail address books can be exported to CSV, LDIF and HTML formats. Folders can be exported to Netscape, Eudora and other RFC822 standards.
These are not supported by modern email programs, including The Bat! and Thunderbird.
Import/Export Addons Don't Support Pocomail
Those that have too much mail to simply abandon it and start afresh (like myself) need an intermediary program:
Aid4Mail works as a general method of exporting Pocomail or Barca information. It also imports information that other methods may not.
Choose the Right License
There are one-year or two-week licenses (priced differently for home users and professionals or organizations) with a 50% discount on renewal.
The Home version worked for me (a single user with multiple email addresses).
Exporting from PocoMail
Open Aid4Mail and select the following settings:
- Select “PocoMail (mailbox) *.mbx”
- Navigate to the mailbox location (the Mail folder in the same location as the Attach folder).
- Select any filters (I didn't select any).
- Select “mbox mailbox files (in mboxrd format)”
- Set the target location (Mail in Documents is the default) and “Accept Microsoft Windows (CRLF)”
- Select “Preserve full message” and “Restore source mail folder structure” options.
The mail is exported to a folder (“mail” in My Documents by default).
I did run into an issue noted in the Aid4Mail knowledge base:
Why do exported EML and MSG file have the current date stamp instead of the original email date?
This problem is usually caused by the Windows file indexing feature, which updates the file date stamp on reading it.
In Windows, go to Control Panel ⇒ Indexing Options ⇒ Advanced ⇒ File Types, and uncheck the extensions “eml” and “msg” from the list.
The import date became my “received date” rather than the original message date. The imported messages are all older than the new messages (but I can determine original dates using the “sent date”) so I didn't bother trying again.
Importing to The Bat!
Open The Bat! and import the mail, one mailbox at a time:
- Select the appropriate mailbox in The Bat!
- Click on Tools and select “Import Messages” then “From UNIX Mailboxes…”
- Select the appropriate *.mbox mailbox in the folder where you exported your PocoMail mail.*
- Click Open.
- The import processes the mail and the messages are copied into the highlighted mailbox in The Bat!
* The .mbox file may be in a different location than you expect — sub-folders mailboxes may have a mailbox and a folder with other mailboxes.
Repeat the process for each mailbox you wish to import.
One Mailbox at a Time
The biggest challenge may be in having to import mailboxes and folders independently of each other. While this may take time, it is probably easier than doing it manually.
Pocomail's attachments were imported along with their respective messages and now function in The Bat! just like attachments in messages retrieved by The Bat!.
Importing Address Books
I transferred my multiple address books manually (copying information from Pocomail into newly-created The Bat! address groups) because it gave me the opportunity to clean up old entries and create some new ones with more accurate information.
There was also a difference in some aspects of how PocoMail and The Bat! handle email addresses.
Using Export/Import Utilities
You can transfer addresses using the export/import utilities:
- Export your PocoMail address book in LDIF format (you'll have to do each address book separately if you have multiples).
- Open The Bat! address book, select the address book (or group) then click File and select Import From “LDIF file” (navigating to the appropriate file).
- The import processes the LDIF file and addresses are copied into the highlighted address book (or group) in The Bat!
- Repeat the process for each address book you wish to import.
Depending on how your PocoMail address book(s) were set up and how much information they contain, your mileage may vary.
If you configure Pocomail correctly, many of the regular maintenance tasks will be taken care of for you.
- Pocomail installs in C:\Program Files\PocomailX (Barca in C:\Program Files\BarcaX) — where X is the major version number by default.
- Most of the settings are contained within the poco.ini (barca.ini) file rather than in Windows registry. This makes your setting transferable across multiple installations, if necessary.
- You can import between Pocomail or Barca, although only Barca contains the calendar (PIM) settings.
- The main setup tools are under the Tools menu (Accounts Setup, Customize, Options).
- When you first install Pocomail it will prompt you for your name and email address. The other option, if you have a prior Pocomail install, you can import settings from that previous installation using the existing poco.ini (or barca.ini).
- A new window asks for the incoming server, user name, password, incoming server type and outgoing server. The default settings are often correct, but just in case, the next section deals with these account settings.
Accounts are set up through Tools Accounts. If you don't know the settings to configure your account, look in your old email account or contact your ISP.
TSL Not Supported
Most ISPs have moved to more secure email retrieval protocols. These are NOT supported by PocoMail.
Look for ISP's Generic Settings
While your ISP may not be aware of how to set up Pocomail, most email accounts use incoming & outgoing server settings with your user name (usually your email address) and password.
These are Shaw's insecure (unencrypted) settings (which is all Pocomail supports):
Incoming mail server and settings:
- Incoming Mail Server: pop.shaw.ca
- Server Type: POP
- Security Type: None
- Port: 110
Outgoing mail server settings:
- Outgoing Mail Server: mail.shaw.ca
- Server Type: SMTP
- SSL: off
- Port: 25
- Authentication: Plain Text, None
You can check these settings and modify them from the Tools Accounts Setup menu. Click on the account name and edit to modify settings. Be careful with the Virtual and Privacy settings as they can have unexpected results if you set them up incorrectly.
If you have multiple email accounts (e.g., a personal account and a business account) you might want the messages to come into separate inboxes.
- This can be selected in the Mailboxes section of the Accounts Setup.
- You will need to create the necessary mailboxes first (unless they were imported in the process below) by right-clicking on a mailbox where you want to place the new mailbox or sub-mailbox.
- Pocomail is very flexible and can handle extremely complex nested mailboxes.
When you start Pocomail after entering the server settings, the program asks for a program to import information from. The choices include:
- Microsoft Outlook (using POImport)
- Microsoft Outlook Express
- Mozilla Thunderbird
- Netscape Mail
You are then prompted to import mail and address books. Pocomail should import everything correctly, although you might have to let it know how to deal with the contact information.
The import utility assumes you have these programs installed on your system at the time you run the utility and may not work correctly if you have uninstalled the program. It is also recommended that you compress the mailboxes in the old email program prior to import to help avoid problems.
Messages imported from a newer version of Pocomail (4 or newer) or Barca2 use a different method of indexing messages. If you revert to Pocomail 3 after trying a newer version out (or Barca), you will need to compress all the mailboxes in the newer version before importing the settings and mail. After the import, restart Pocomail 3, then compress the mailboxes, then restart it again to see your messages.
One of the strongest features of Pocomail is its filtering capabilities. At the very least you should enable basic filtering.
Filtering Junk (Spam)
Enable Basic Filtering
- Click on the Tools Junk Mail Filtering menu. Select Enable automatic Junk Mail filtering to add the basic features, then click OK.
- As your messages come in they will either be sorted into your In mailbox or sent to the Junk Mail mailbox if Pocomail's Bayesian filters determine that it is junk.
Training the Bayesian Filters
- Mail incorrectly placed into the Junk Mail mailbox should first be marked as good (click the green check mark on the menu at the top of the message view). Then right-click the message and move it to the folder where you wish to store it.
- Junk that is not caught by Pocomail's filters should be marked bad (click the red X on the menu at the top of the message view). This will automatically move the message to the Junk Mail folder.
- Once you've dealt with everything in the Junk Mail folder, click on the Mailbox Empty Junk Mailbox to empty the folder. This will not move messages to your Trash, so you will want to be sure to deal with all messages in the folder before doing this, but it also means that you won't have to get rid of junkmail twice.
- Over time, Pocomail's filters will “learn” how to deal with your mail with a 98% accuracy so that you will have to spend less time weeding out the junk.
Using Filters to Organize Your Mail
The other aspect of Pocomail's filtering is that you can use it to move messages automatically into selected folders by dozens of criteria including email address, sender, subject, etc.
Sending Messages to Specific Folders
- If you right-click on a message in the messages listing you can add a quick filter for that message. The process is context-sensitive, so if you click on the subject, Pocomail will set up a filter based on the subject of the message. If you click on the email address it will base the filter on that.
- How you set up the filter will depend upon how frequently the message subject or address changes. Often, frequent messages have a consistent feature like square brackets: [mailing list name] or a similar item you can use to filter the messages in spite of an otherwise changing subject. You can also use wildcards: *@aol.com.
You can use an unlimited number of filters and Pocomail allows you to set up Incoming, Outgoing, Pre-Download and Post-Send categories of filters as well as four user-defined filtering categories. Most people only use the Incoming filters, but the others are there if you need them.
Pocomail is extremely customizable. There are several ways to change the way it looks, but these will get you started:
- The basic look and feel of Pocomail is set up in the Tools Customize menu. You can alter your toolbar, colour scheme, layout and display fonts from this menu.
- The choice to view certain features is also controlled from the View menu by either adding or removing the feature.
- By right-clicking on the Address Book entries, you can select how they will be sorted: first/last, last/first or email address and how many lines the information will be carried on.
Keep Pocomail Running Smoothly
Like any program, Pocomail needs some routine maintenance to keep it running as smoothly as possible. These hints will help you to make this maintenance easy.
Keep It Trim
- Cull your messages regularly. You can set up mailboxes to keep messages for later reference rather than making your In mailbox too difficult to work with. Smaller mailboxes work better than larger ones, particularly if you are running an older computer.
- Keep your Trash and Junk Mail folders empty and compress them often. This will help prevent problems from appearing. Compressing mailboxes should also be one of your first steps to try to resolve problems with Pocomail.
- Pocomail (from version 3.4) and Barca will automatically compress certain mailboxes when you open them. If you've not compressed them in a long time, there will likely be a delay. You can press ESC to stop this process if necessary, but don't End Task Pocomail! Letting the process finish will keep your mailboxes small and mailbox index accurately in sync with your mailbox store.
Back It Up
- Your Pocomail should be backed up at least every several days and immediately before any major changes, including an upgrade.
- This can be done manually: Click on the File Backup and Restore, then Backup, but it is easier to have it done automatically.
- Click on Tools Options and make sure that “Backup mailboxes every…” is checked. Every 5 days works quite well for most people.
Check for Updates
Updates are no longer available but be sure you're running the most recent version.
You can avoid many problems by reducing the demands you are placing on Pocomail, particularly if your system is older or lacking the resources to operate as efficiently as it once did.
- I recommend that you deselect the “Check mail on startup” option in Startup Options (under General Options) to help smooth things when your system is busy.
- If you like to have your messages checked automatically (see Account Settings), don't set the frequency too high or it may interfere with other activities on your system. Checking every 10 minutes is enough for most people, although I do run some at 30-minute intervals for infrequently-used accounts.
- While it is more convenient to leave received attachments encoded inside messages (Encoding Options is found within the General Options), this practice can lead to a significant overhead in the operation of Pocomail, particularly if the attachments are large and numerous in a mailbox. It might be better to let Pocomail handle the attachments inside the Attachments directory (they are still associated with the particular message they came with).
These resources can help you make the most out of Pocomail and Barca:
- PocoMail 4 Manual (2005).
Other Resources Gone
The other resources pointed to Poco Forums, which are no longer online.
Often just restarting Windows will resolve issues without resorting to a series of troubleshooting steps.
If you do run into problems (usually appearing as error reports on the Progress Window) give the suggestions below a try:
Emails Blank or Garbled
There is a potential issue with AVG antivirus when you allow it to certify your incoming and outgoing messages. This can result in messages being appearing to be blank or messages that are not displaying properly. The fix is quite simple: set AVG to NOT certify messages.
- Open the AVG User Interface by double-clicking on the icon.
- Click on the Options menu and select Advanced Settings.
- From the Advanced Settings window that appears, click the “plus” on Email Protection from the menu on the left to expand the menu then repeat to view the expanded menu under Email Scanner.
- Click on Certification and ensure both certification boxes are unchecked (if you're using the free version you may be unable to uncheck the incoming email certification).
- Click OK to save your settings.
I tend to do this with all security software because the certification means nothing to the recipient (it is advertising for the antivirus software).
You can't trust the sender for security — you have to take care of it for yourself.
Displaying Headers Display
You can view
- short headers (just the From, Subject and To information);
- full headers (adds a tremendous amount of routing and other information that can be confusing to most people but will be required by your ISP if you're having difficulties with spam); or
- no headers at all.
Most people prefer the short headers and if there is additional information they have to scroll down the message to view the sender's message.
However, if you are trying to troubleshoot a problem or if your ISP or another service asks for the headers in a message, what they are asking for is the full headers.
If your browser and other programs arent connecting without problems, the issue is with your Pocomail settings.
Ensure that Pocomail is online. This may appear on the toolbar, but a check mark should appear next to Online Operation.
Check Your Internet Connection
If Nothing is able connect, the issue is with your Internet connection.
- Check your firewall settings to ensure that all programs requiring Internet access have permission (including Pocomail).
- Check your security program to see if it is stopping messages from being delivered (or retrieved).
Sometimes you see error messages with codes like Socket Error 11004 (the most common) when checking your mail. These have to do with connection issues with your ISP rather than with Pocomail itself.
- Pocomail Forums: Socket Error #11004 is usually a timing issue if all your settings are correct. Retrying the connection later usually resolves the problem.
- If your antivirus program is not responding, this can also prevent Pocomail from connecting to your ISP.
- MSDN, the Microsoft developer site, explains socket errors in a more detailed (and technical) fashion.
PDFs as .TXT
The most common issue is PDFs showing up with a .txt extension instead of a .pdf extension. Since extensions tell Windows what to do with a file, you will be unable to open this file (or it will open with a lot of garbage in the text editor).
In this case you will not be able to view the PDF until you change the extension of the file from FILENAME.txt to FILENAME.pdf./p>
This action will break the ability of Pocomail (or Barca) to open the attachment, but at least you can then view it./p>
I found that notifying the sender can rectify this issue as most such PDFs are auto-generated by software.
Why This Happens
If Pocomail cannot determine an extension it adds the .txt extension.
This is most common with files sent by someone using a Mac because that operating system handles file types in a manner that is invisible to Windows.
XP Service Pack 2 Errors
You may have connection issues related to Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2. These can be described differently, but are the same issue:
- You may experience problems connecting to your email; or
- Programs that connect to IP addresses that are in the loop back address range may not work as you expect.
While installing Service Pack 3 will resolve this issue, support for Windows XP has expired and XP is increasingly unsafe to use, especially online.