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Creo Software Six Degrees review: Creo Software Six Degrees

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The Good Collects and sorts related e-mail messages and attached files; automated installation.

The Bad No phone support; works only with Outlook 2000/2002 and Entourage X; doesn't let you manually associate or disassociate files or messages.

The Bottom Line Six Degrees makes it easier to keep track of e-mail and projects conducted via e-mail, but it offers too little for the price. If you're using Outlook for Windows, try Nelson Email Organizer instead.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.0 Overall

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Who cares if you're a mere six steps away from knowing Kevin Bacon when you could be six degrees closer to taming your e-mail account? Six Degrees, Creo's relatively new e-mail management program, works with Outlook 2000/2002 and Entourage X to group related messages, files, and contacts in a separate display window so that you can better see the connections between them and, theoretically, work more efficiently. But while the idea has promise, the current incarnation isn't worth $99. Stick with your e-mailer's flawed organizational skills, or if you're overwhelmed by your in-box, try a cheaper tool, such as Nelson Email Organizer. Who cares if you're a mere six steps away from knowing Kevin Bacon when you could be six degrees closer to taming your e-mail account? Six Degrees, Creo's relatively new e-mail management program, works with Outlook 2000/2002 and Entourage X to group related messages, files, and contacts in a separate display window so that you can better see the connections between them and, theoretically, work more efficiently. But while the idea has promise, the current incarnation isn't worth $99. Stick with your e-mailer's flawed organizational skills, or if you're overwhelmed by your in-box, try a cheaper tool, such as Nelson Email Organizer.

Outlook 2000/2002 and Entourage X only
Enthusiastic about Eudora? Then forget about Six Degrees. While you can get this program for both Windows and the Macintosh, it works only with Microsoft Outlook 2000 or 2002 (Windows) or Entourage X (Macintosh). If you're running the correct client, however, you can set up and start working with Six Degrees in less than 10 minutes. Just pop in the installation disc, and Six Degrees does all the work for you.

Describing what Six Degrees does is tougher than installing it. Think of the program as an e-mail relationship monitor that works with your current e-mail client. Say you send a file to a coworker, who then forwards it to an assistant but copies you. The assistant makes changes, renames the file, and sends it back to both you and your coworker. Six Degrees displays all these messages in one pane, notes the files worked on and transferred in another, then lists all the people who carried out the conversation and sent attachments in a third. You can see each pane separately just by clicking a button on the toolbar or put all three in view at the same time. The goal? To help you keep track of projects, discussions, and your overall workload.

Does too little
Alas, there's nothing mystical about how Six Degrees collates this information. The program groups e-mail messages, for instance, by similar subject lines or by message thread. The same goes for attached files. Six Degrees relates all attached files in a message collection by their names (such as mouse01.doc and mouse02.doc, for example), thus placing them in the same folder.

And that's about all Six Degrees does. You can use it to launch attached files from the Show Files window, but you can't open a new composition window, send a message to someone listed in the Show People pane, or remove errant messages that Six Degrees has mistakenly grouped together, which happens on occasion. Nor is there a way within Six Degrees to do a bit of browsing. You can't, for example, track all of the messages associated with a certain person by clicking a name in the Show People view. In fact, Outlook itself already does some Six Degrees tricks, including displaying messages by threads (from the View menu, choose Current View > By Conversation Topic). Even the less expensive Nelson Email Organizer displays all of the messages sent to or received from a particular person.

Not enough control
Sadly, Six Degrees' few extra features also make it difficult to control. You can't, for instance, manually associate a file on your network or computer with a message or a person unless that file was sent as an attachment.

Worse, this app's tech support is second-rate. For $99, we expected more than Creo's e-mail-only support (no phone help), limited online FAQ, and so-so searchable technical support database. We asked for installation assistance via e-mail when a test machine balked at registering one of Six Degrees' files, and although we got a response within hours, the tech rep was not able to solve the problem.

Although there's no harm in trying out Six Degrees' free 30-day evaluation, the software brings too little sense to the e-mail morass to justify its price--half as much as a Microsoft Office upgrade. If you're using Outlook, consider less expensive organizational aid Nelson Email Organizer instead.

Six Degrees' Legend window shows you all of the associated messages based on subject. Read the text portion of the message by clicking the small plus sign beside each.

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