Kicking the Gmail Tires

Kicking the Gmail Tires

I have to say that I am falling deeper and deeper into the google universe these days. Not sure if it is the right thing to do, but the combination of all the Docs features and their overall simplicity has me spending more and more time using them for everything. One of their tools that I’ve always admired but didn’t use too much is Gmail. My wife lives in it — she constantly has it open on her MacBook. It is her only email client and she swears by its functionality. Between that and a conversation I had today I decided to take another step into the cloud and forward my work email into Gmail. I know it may sound crazy, but I am really digging it — so far.

This could be another one of my failed experiments and I’ll be back to my Apple Mail.app before too long. But so far I am finding a few things that I really like. The first is the overall customization of the platform itself. I can do lots of interesting things to make the space look and react the way I want it to. I have it set up with multiple inboxes so messages from certain people get their own little space … they still flow into my inbox, but this gives me the ability to highlight certain people more easily. When I combine that with the filters and labels I get a nice way to keep certain messages well organized.

Multiple Inboxes
Multiple Inboxes

I am also already finding that the mobile access simply kicks ass. The gmail interface on the iPhone is killer … I can do all the same stuff I can on my iPhone Mail.app and then some. It reformats for iPhone on the fly and it is speedy over the 3G connection. I haven’t tried it on Edge yet, but I do know at least one other gmail user on edge and he seems very happy with it. The search is available and that is one thing the Mail.app on the iPhone cannot do. I can also create a simple button that points right to my inbox and replace the standard Apple Maill.app button on my iPhone menu. I do lose notifications, but without push email here at PSU it isn’t a big deal.

Speaking of notifications, the ability to install something as simple as gmail notifier is a major bonus. Without having my browser open I can see what is new and I even get a little heads up display (a lot like a growl notification) that gives me a peek into what is new in my inbox. I’m already finding I am less distracted by not having my Mail.app client open all the time.

heads_up

Finally, I have it set to send with the return address being my psu email address so it looks like it is actually coming from me at PSU when appropriate — and if I want to send it from my gmail address there is a little drop down menu that lets me do that. Easy. All in all I am digging it for now. I’ll keep trying it out and see where it leads me. Anyone else gone this route?

10 thoughts on “Kicking the Gmail Tires

  1. A majority of the Collegian staff uses it pretty regularly. The chat feature is priceless, especially how every conversation is saved to refer to later on, and the labeling and search features make it impossible to lose track of an important email.

  2. I’ve been doing this since I started, just to avoid using PSU email woes. Did you know it’s against university policy? Something about storing work data on non-university computers (Google’s servers). Google offers it for free to Universities, but ITS won’t have any of that — probably because our in house WebMail is so well liked.

    1. I have it on good authority that it is OK. If it isn’t I’ll go back. PSU email works perfectly for me — I am on IMAP mail and it is almost always available (at least as much as gmail, probably more). I am just digging gmail as a client view into my psu mail. I’ve never really been a web mail kind of person, always opting for desktop clients, but gmail has some very nice features and it is fitting into my workflow.

  3. Gmail junkie here for both personal accounts and running GApps for NMC.

    Be sure to dig into keyboard shortcuts, filters. Getting to use labels as tags rather than folders is a small leap. And explore the goodies under the Labs tab in Settings.

    Missing is ability to drag and drop attachments in a message and reliably inert images in body of email.

    But of course, email is dead…

  4. What seems to get lost in a lot of conversation about institutions switching to gmail is not that it is just an email service, but the web interface is perhaps the best email client out there (as your post demonstrates). I prefer it to the desktop apps I have used for sure.

      1. Thanks to both of you! Was time to change things up a bit. I was looking to do something that simplified things. Hopefully I can feel good about this one for a little while. Thanks again!

  5. Great post! I recently went this route as our school moves from First Class to Exchange. I wasn’t happy with Mac’s version of Outlook (Entourage). I’ve got my work acct forwarding into gmail and am also toying with active sync with calendaring between iCal and Gcal which is working great; there’s a nice little tool called colaboration that lets me add events in iCal that sync to both Gcal and my Iphone cal. So far I’m happy with the move and am anticipating a larger migration to gmail as the school considers the cloud.

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