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Apple offers sneak peek of new .Mac webmail

Apple Computer later this year will offer members of its Internet services something familiar —a complete overhaul of its .Mac webmail service with an interface that directly mimics its Mac OS X Mail application.

"The new .Mac webmail is coming soon, and you'll feel like you've seen it before," the company wrote in a preview of the new service on the .Mac website. "With its smart use of the latest web technology, it'll remind you of the Mail application on your desktop, with a simple and elegant interface, drag-and-drop capability, built-in Address Book, and more."

The new webmail interface will more conveniently positions mail folders next to the Inbox, and allow member to read full messages and access their contact info without leaving the page.

Members will also be able to manage their inbox by dragging and dropping messages (including multiple messages at the same time) and read entire messages in a pane located below the message list, just like in the Mac OS X Mail application.

".Mac webmail keeps page reloads to a minimum, by refreshing only the portion of the page that needs updating, instead of reloading the entire page," Apple added in its description of the impending enhancements.

The new version of .Mac webmail will also add a "Quick Reply" function that will allow members to dash off a response without leaving their Inbox, and build-in Address Book support.

Apple's new Web mail

Other new features coming to the service include keyboard shortcuts, message flagging and message previews, Apple said.

In addition to webmail, .Mac offers members one-click web publishing and photocasting, file syncing, and simplified digital media backup. A one-year subscription to the service costs $99, but Apple is currently running a promotion that offers $30 off annual membership with the purchase of any Mac system. The promo ends October 16, 2006.