The Gmail Turning Point

Gmail Stickers

I like to think that I have a pretty good handle on email. I practice Inbox Zero, I organize email depending on what action I need to do with it, and generally don’t leave the office with anything in the Inbox. We use Exchange there, so I use Entourage at work.

At home and elsewhere, I’m all about Gmail these days.

It’s weird, because most of the time I prefer desktop apps to their web equivalents. Google Docs is alright, but I do most of my writing in Textedit (it doesn’t go into Word until I need to style it). This site runs on WordPress, but I do nearly all my writing in Marsedit. For RSS reading I went back and forth between Google Reader and NetNewsWire, settling on NetNewsWire. And for many years, Mail.app was my email client of choice.

But I noticed that many of my friends used Gmail exclusively. So earlier this year I removed Mail.app from my dock and decided to use Gmail for the next month.

I do not miss Mail.app.

Don’t get me wrong, Mail.app is fine – but it always had a few problems. For starters it just doesn’t get along with attachments. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’ve attached the file you want or if you’ve downloaded the file that’s been sent to you. Other than that it’s probably the best looking email client on a desktop for how email used to be.

Yet, Gmail has more benefits. I don’t have to worry about backing up email. Searching in Gmail works faster than with Mail.app and Spotlight. Gmail keyboard shortcuts allow me to archive and star/flag email faster than I could in Mail.app.

I hit the Gmail turning point – the point where you realize that all email should work like this and you don’t want to go back to the old way, when I saw that I got to Inbox Zero faster with Gmail than anything else I’ve used.

If you’re frustrated with your email client, try just giving up and using Gmail for a while. You can use Google Notifier to fill in the gaps with mailto links. It’s also a little liberating to not have your email client open all the time.

Plus, attachments work way better in Gmail than Mail.app.

Photo by RichieC

2 thoughts on “The Gmail Turning Point”

  1. When I switched to Mac, I really wanted to love Mail.app. But I just couldn’t get behind it. Maybe I had already hit the Gmail turning point before buying my first Mac.

    Similarly, iCal is nice, but I had already gotten so used to gCal that the biggest difference was that I couldn’t check my iCal on other computers.

    I do use and love MailPlane, which is sort of a dedicated Gmail browser. I like being able to cmd+tab to my mailbox.

  2. I really should check out the Mailplane demo, but it’s almost like an uncanny valley – if that’s the right term; software that loads a browser that feels kinda/sorta like a Mac app.

    I still love and use iCal and Address Book. iCal just CalDAVs to my Google Calendar so I can have that calendar everywhere. Address Book and Google Contacts syncing doesn’t work right yet. Lots of duplicates and a few missing details here and there after a sync.

    I taught my sister how to back up her old iBook last week and she was very interested in keeping her folders in Mail.app. She uses Gmail through Mail.app (from 10.3) but I’m trying to convince her to just give it up and switch to gmail exclusively. I don’t think she’s there yet. The OLD way of doing email is ingrained behavior in a lot of people, I think.

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