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I want to do something more than just normal mail -> folder rules; I want to put a layer in front of my exchange server that lets me, for example, rewrite subjects into a more readable form.

I get automated messages whose subject format makes them almost useless. Changing the emitting software is not going to happen, so I need to do something client side.

I'm interested in anything that would allow me to do this, either on a mac, or on an older linux distro. Preferably the latter, and preferably in a way that I can turn on and forget about.

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You can do this in Exchange natively, depending on the version of Exchange, with Transport rules on the HUB exchange role. MSExchange.org has a good example of using tranport rules from Exchange 2007.

Putting an MTA in front of Exchange can also provide this functionality, and I've used Postfix in the past quite well. You may realise other benefits from doing so (Spam Filtering), but it shouldn't be explicitly necessary for you in this case.

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My problem is that I'm "behind" Exchange here; I have only client level access to it. So, I can only do the things that an MUA can do, not an MTA. –  Chris R Jan 20 '12 at 15:18

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