Tips on using GMail for Work?
May 19, 2015 6:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm using gmail for work and while I've used gmail for years for personal things, I hate it for work. I liked having a dedicated app (Outlook) that didn't get lost in 5,000 tabs I had open. Also, the whole meeting/calendar experience takes more clicks than Outlook does. I must be doing this wrong, is there an app or something that helps ease this? From my understanding using Outlook with Gmail over IMAP isn't a great experience so I've shied away from that. I'm on OS X if that matters.
posted by geoff. to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I just keep a separate browser window open with just Gmail. It works better if you have two monitors, but it does work.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:27 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ah I have one big, gigantic monitor so I cannot lock things into a window like I could with dual monitors.
posted by geoff. at 6:29 AM on May 19, 2015

I've used Mailplane for years and find it to be a slightly better experience. You are still tabbing around but it's in a separate app.
posted by JuliaKM at 6:33 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have Gmail always open in a pinned tab, so it doesn't get lost no matter how many tabs I have open.

I also have enabled a lot of labs and adjusted settings to make things work for me, to name a few: "Unread message icon" so my number of new emails is always visible from the tab icon, Google calendar gadget in the left sidebar, quick links, and inbox sections so my starred messages pop to the top.

Would a send-to-calendar extension or custom search engine speed things up for you?
posted by Gordafarin at 6:37 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

The calendar actually does have a number of non-obvious shortcuts and there are many tips and tricks kinds of websites to put it to work for you, so that even if a single task takes more clicks there are whole minutes saved overall in other areas. I didn't like it as much for work initially, but it's so much more powerful than Outlook that I would now not go back.
posted by Miko at 6:39 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use a separate browser only for work-logged in Gmail, with the work extensions I need for it, completely separate from any personal Gmail stuff. Keyboard shortcuts make it much faster once you get the hang of them. Labels and thoughtful use of labels and stars helps if you figure out a workflow that fits you. It's also worth poking around the Google marketplace to see if there are any apps or extensions that are free or cheap that might help your particular needs.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:59 AM on May 19, 2015

Does your work allow syncing the Gmail account to personal devices without additional software that gets in the way of usability? When I worked for a company that used Google services, I did a lot of my read-only e-mail and calendaring through my tablet.

For desktop use, I've not been terribly unhappy with Thunderbird for accessing and archiving Gmail, but I've been using that basic interface for a very very long time so I'm used to its quirks. If you're caching e-mail locally, be sure that you're not running afoul of your company's data retention policy. Outlook has never, ever been a good experience, regardless of what server it's talking to.
posted by Candleman at 7:10 AM on May 19, 2015

Is there a reason you don't want to use Apple's Mail app? I've used it for years with my work e-mail and it's fine.
posted by Huck500 at 7:23 AM on May 19, 2015

I second Huck500's question. Gmail and Google Calendars can be used with Apple's Mail and Calendar apps.
posted by slkinsey at 7:27 AM on May 19, 2015

I third using Apple Mail (with permission naturally)

I haven't used Apple Mail but one pitfall I've noticed is folder maintenance, which tends to be extremely weak with third party clients. I'd recommend sorting out your folders completely in the web app if you do go the Apple Mail route.
posted by Yowser at 8:04 AM on May 19, 2015

I like Mailbox for GMail better than Apple Mail.
posted by the giant pill at 8:13 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Using Thunderbird for Gmail over IMAP is a fine experience. Although I usually prefer the Gmail web interface when possible.
posted by grouse at 8:35 AM on May 19, 2015

Also, the whole meeting/calendar experience takes more clicks than Outlook does.

Can you expand on this? I have used both Outlook and Gmail for work and I prefer Gmail (via the usual web interface) particularly for calendars. Both apps will let you schedule a meeting by just clicking (and optionally dragging) on the calendar. Both apps let you reschedule a meeting by clicking and dragging. Both apps have reminders and invites, and Google Calendar's reminders are infinitely better. When you get a meeting invite in Gmail, there's a link to view it on your calendar, and the yes/no/maybe buttons are easier to click than Outlook's godforsaken drop-down list.

So what is the challenge with Google Calendar? Maybe we can help you if you're more specific.
posted by Tehhund at 10:33 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Echoing what people have said above about shortcuts. It can be daunting, but once you learn the keyboard shortcuts for things you do a lot in Gmail and Cal, it will get as fast as or faster than working on a desktop app.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:38 AM on May 19, 2015

I use Fluid for web apps that I have to keep open all day.
posted by Ampersand692 at 10:55 AM on May 19, 2015

I use Outlook via IMAP with my gmail business account and have for over a decade without issue. I haven't encountered any problems.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 11:00 AM on May 19, 2015

I personally do not use Mozilla Thunderbird on a regular basis (I've used it for copying emails to and from different accounts), but it is a standalone email app that will work with Gmail and feels kind of like Outlook. You could also just try Gmail with Outlook and see if the experience is good or bad for you. Sometimes I see negative reviews or feedback for things and wonder where it came from because everything works fine for me.

There's no big secret to Gmail for work. For me, it's just always my first tab. I am a multitasker and I can have rows and rows of tabs open, but as long as Gmail is the first one on the list, I can always find it. What browser do you use? For Firefox, I use an extension/add-on called Tab Mix Plus, and I configure it so the tabs appear in multiple rows rather than spill off the screen. In other words, every tab appears on my screen because I HATE when I get so many tabs that I need to scroll left or right to see the rest of the tabs. This prevents me from losing my first tab, which is Gmail. If you're like me and that's an issue, consider getting an add-on so all your tabs stay on your screen.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:05 PM on May 19, 2015

I'd recommend sending an email to and requesting an invite to their Inbox feature, which is a better interface for GMail. I love the function that lets you "snooze" emails until later.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:28 PM on May 19, 2015

If Apple Mail won't cut it for you, how about using Chrome to create an application shortcut? It'll essentially turn your work email into an app that can be run as something separate from your browser.

Instructions can be found here.
posted by mr_silver at 1:36 PM on May 19, 2015

FWIW, adding your work Gmail account in the Accounts pane in System Prefs (which will happen anyway if you add your Gmail account to Apple Mail) will also hook it into your Contacts and Calendar apps too. I've used my Gmail account in Outlook on iOS and it works about as well as anything else does, and, for what it's worth, the very latest version of Outlook (ver 15) on OS X is way better than any previous version of Outlook or Entourage you may have used. (I will note that my use of my Gmail account is mostly to delete the crap it gets rather than any real intensive use - my work email is Exchange-hosted.)
posted by mrg at 2:08 PM on May 19, 2015

Just came across this Gmail app for OSX today.
posted by yerfatma at 5:35 AM on May 26, 2015

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