Great online email client
July 7, 2011 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I use Gmail in a browser to read my mail 99% of the time. it's fast, can be accessed everywhere, yet I have some reservations about using it. Are there online alternatives that would work better?

I like having mail in a browser. I tend to try an email client for a few days then slip back into using the Gmail browser interface. Gmail uses 'labels' instead of folders to sort mail. The labels become folders when viewed via IMAP.

I tend to get a lot of email and it all becomes one long flood of information in my browser that I can't really sort through effectively in the Gmail browser. I end up setting listserves to digest mode to reduce the amount of stuff coming my way, then am unable to follow threads effectively, or mark individual emails for later consumption.

I know I can do this in Gmail. It's that I prefer the folder metaphor over the label metaphor. I want to be able to view conversations and threads in the folder rather than sorting labels so that my inbox is less cluttered with content.

Is there an good online application I can use to collect mail that would give me the utility of a desktop application, like tagging emails, filtering them into folders and the like? I've heard of K9 being a good client, there's also FastMail. I'd like to get away from Gmail eventually as my main address and having a good online client would be the first step.

posted by diode to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Have you tried setting up filters in Gmail that skip the inbox but keep the message as unread?
posted by hankscorpio83 at 11:52 AM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

I realize this isn't answering the question, but if you just want the folder functionality, why not label and archive your emails, and then browse by labels?
posted by craven_morhead at 11:53 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yahoo has an email system that uses folders.
posted by xammerboy at 11:56 AM on July 7, 2011

Best answer: Agree with the above. Set up filters for each mailing list to label each list separately, and archive (which removes the message from the inbox but does not delete it). I don't use the web-based interface much, but that's how I've got it set up and it'll do what you want.
posted by adamrice at 11:58 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm really not seeing an issue. Labels are the same as folders, feature-wise -- the only difference is that with labels, gmail doesn't pretend that it's moving anything. In fact, the inbox is itself a label of sorts -- when you "archive" a message, all you're really doing is removing the inbox label.

If you set up filters to archive and label, as others have said, it's the same as creating a folder and moving it. The difference is that gmail allows a message to have multiple labels, so it could theoretically show up in multiple folders in IMAP view.

You can even simulate the idea of subfolders, only even more efficiently. If my mom and sibling had multiple email addresses, I could throw them in a "family" label and then also label them by name. So you could think of it as a folder structure:


with the added bonus that you can do something like "label:family label:John" to get all items tagged both "family" and "John" -- approximating the idea of a subfolder.
posted by mikeh at 12:23 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with Filters in Gmail - they're great. I just now started using them, and I've made my inbox more reasonable, and I can follow topics quite easily. Before, I'd get email throughout the day, reading the new ones, and losing them in the stream of incoming mail. Now, the labels will have numbers of unread messages beside the title, and I can read through by label. Quite folder-like, and you're still in Gmail.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:40 PM on July 7, 2011

Fastmail is a web-based email client that uses folders and has a lot of tools and features.
posted by yclipse at 1:26 PM on July 7, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, the suggestion about using the archiving function in the filters is a good one. I'll try that. The utility I'm trying to achieve is to get my inbox pared down to minimum without constantly archiving stuff. This would do that and preserve threads under the labels. I'll try that and also take a look at FastMail as well.
posted by diode at 3:28 PM on July 7, 2011

I have been using the label+archive trick in conjunction with the Nested Labels feature from Gmail Labs to achieve the clean inbox with folders look.

The label+archive trick is exactly what adamrice mentioned above.
The 'Nested Labels' features modifies the GMail UI to display a set of labels named 'Office/Meetings' and 'Office/Trips' as a folder 'Office' with two subfolders 'Meetings' and 'Trips' beneath it, thus completing the folder effect.
posted by hunter2 at 12:24 AM on July 9, 2011

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