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Papercut: A Better Email Testing Tool

In our June Toolapalooza issue (17 Free Tools for Visual Studio), we reviewed some of the best and most useful free tools for Visual Studio. One of those tools was smtp4dev, which allows you to quickly check the results of any email that you send from your application -- very useful in testing. But, as I noted in the article, I found smtp4dev to be... well, quirky, let’s say.

One of our readers came to my rescue and recommended Papercut as a great alternative. And he was right: I think I’m in love again (I create a lot of e-mail applications).

Downloading Papercut gives you a zip file containing a DLL, a config file, and the Papercut executable. Just drop these into any folder (though something in C:\Program Files would be most appropriate) and double click on the executable to run it. An msi would simplify installation, but not by much.

While it’s running, Papercut automatically picks up e-mail sent to the standard SMTP port (25) on any IP address: You just send mail from your application and switch to Papercut to review it. The user interface is clean and easy to use. An Options button lets you change the port being monitored and -- more usefully -- have Papercut minimize when it starts. When Papercut does minimize, it shrinks to the tray where you can re-open it to review e-mail by double-clicking on it. The tray icon displays a message whenever Papercut picks up some new mail so you can use this to test background processes as easily as foreground applications. Papercut gives you a full view of your mail: You can look at the full transmission (including headers) or just the body of the email. Papercut also keeps a log of all the activity it performs so, if something goes horribly wrong, you can trace back to see what happened.

How much do I like Papercut? Let me put it this way: I used the External Tools dialog on Visual Studio’s Tools menu to add Papercut to my menus.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 06/14/2011 at 1:16 PM

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