Forte Agent is one of the best newsgroup clients available for Windows. First released by Forte Inc in 1994, it was the first offline Usenet newsreader. Both 16-bit and 32-bit versions are available. Shareware. Has lost some popularity due to the wide availability of Outlook Express, though Agent is much more powerful. The interface may seem a little outdated, but it has only retained its old appearance -- the functionality is there. More info at

It also handles e-mail, but Usenet is what it was built for.

Some qualities:

  • Very customizable interface. Toolbar buttons, arrangement of panes, etc. All windows are insidie of an MDI container, so you can arrange them as you like. Separate non-modal for logs, filters, address book, and just about everything else. Every folder can be opened in its own window. Separate folders for archiving are possible.
  • Excellent attachment handling. Agent can automatically put together split up messages and then save attachments in a specified (on a group-by-group basis) destination.
  • All options can be customized for separate groups. Options for multiple groups can be set at once, as well as default options for all groups. Resetting a group's particular settings to the default options is also easy.
  • Keyboard navigation. Where possible (mostly while reading posts), one-stroke keyboard shortcuts are available. Navigation also allows you to be very precise. For example, there are separate commands (and keyboard shortcuts) for skipping to the next unread message (N) and the next unread message that has been downloaded (B -- next unread body).
  • Built-in ROT13. Of course, what self-respecting newsgroup client doesn't have ROT-13?
  • You'll probably discover many more when you use it.
Forte has also released a crippled freeware cousin to Agent called Free Agent.

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