Unified email - iCloud+Gmail+Gmail+more Gmail.
September 17, 2015 6:12 PM   Subscribe

I need help and advice to go from software based email to a Web based (gmail?). Complications, multiple accounts, mobile configurations and the general worry that I need to get it right the first time.

Email has never been much of a struggle for me. I'm good at it (and familiar with POP3, IMAP and SMTP configurations.) I've been running Apple Mail as my primary unified client. It can run rules, I can defer or use a tickler (for say 7 days). Crucial is that I can tag/flag critical email to do "later”. I’m into Inbox zero - everything is done or put aside.

I've run into an odd bug, forcing me to use a web client. I have four primary accounts - all Gmail, Gmail for Business and one iCloud account.


I've been hesitant to go web based. I'm uncomfortable - I wouldn't have a local copy on my system. No offline working. I'm worried that I'll transfer everything...and something will go wrong.

Mobile: My iPhone works great. I’ve just starting using Spark. Mobile is more of a ‘scanning for urgency’ than a primary platform. I hate replying on from mobile, if I can avoid it.

My real question is how to set everything up? I feel like I only have one chance to get it right - and my email is critical. After all, whose email isn't? This isn't an "explain it like I'm five."

It's more of a "did you make the switch from a system client to webmail? What mistakes did you make? What would you do over again? Should I be doing this with (eek) Outlook? Is the "one gmail" account the way to work? Have it fetch everything? (when I reply, it comes from the original address right?)


I feel like when I last looked into this, gmail it did a forced fetch, removing the email from the original servers. Which would mean I’d just check the one account, right?. I'd have to reconfigure my mac and my iPhone. Sending an email lets you choose from any of your accounts, right?

The biggest plus of web based for me would make it so I could check cross platform. Is there more I should know about, advantage wise?

Generally, the more details about your setup, the more advice you can help me get from here (Apple Mail, loads of accounts, rules) to a unified system!
posted by filmgeek to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Gmail doesn't have to remove the email from the original server. You have the option of deleting or keeping it on the original server.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:27 PM on September 17, 2015

I would forward everything to one Gmail account, and use tags or whatever if you need for organizational purposes.

Gmail can be configured to automatically reply from the address that the email was sent to.
posted by COD at 7:09 PM on September 17, 2015

I used to be a Gmail booster. Got sick of Google messing about with it. Now I pay fastmail.com a pittance for a competent, stable email service and I'm better off for that.

Fastmail has an excellent web interface. Its spam filtering is not quite in the same stellar category as Google's, but it's good enough. It supports IMAP, which is what you'll want to use if you're doing non-Web access from multiple devices; unlike Gmail's, its IMAP implementation is standards-compliant and fuss-free.

Unreservedly recommended.
posted by flabdablet at 7:46 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Fastmail +1. Same here, made the switch from google and haven't looked back.
posted by nostrada at 8:06 PM on September 17, 2015

I didn't love the "one Gmail" approach, because I ran into issues with what address I was sending from (replying is easy and automatic, starting a new email requires you to choose, and I would sometimes forget). Now what I do is use IMAP to funnel all of the accounts into Mail on my iOS devices, and use multiple tabs to sign in to multiple Gmail addresses when I am on a computer. Like you I rarely email from mobile, so choosing the correct address is less important. That way I can easily look at all my email on mobile, but keep everything nice and separate on the computer. Does that make sense for you?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:25 PM on September 17, 2015

Response by poster: Hope more people chime in. God, I don't want to post this to reddit.

Fastmail - While I'm happy to pay money - I was really hoping to use some of the extensions for gmail that are out there, if I could make the move over.

Rock Steady - I don't forget to check my outgoing email now. Having multiple tabs open is a dealbreaker- When I start prioritizing what I need to respond to....I need to see everything.

Hmm. Just hmm. I was hoping someone had dealt with this at a heavier level.
posted by filmgeek at 5:21 AM on September 18, 2015

You mention that you've encountered "an odd bug." What is it? Is that something that can be solved so you can get back to your Mail.app-based workflow?
posted by adamrice at 6:58 AM on September 18, 2015

Response by poster: Adamrice - yeah, I've twice in the last 30 days had mail completely stop sending email.

We're talking a tier 3 call with Apple support, where I'm talking with an engineer. FWIW, 75% of the time when I call Apple, I end up with someone at that level; I'm good enough with troubleshooting etc, that I don't need them, except for heavy issues.

3 hours of time the first time- about 12 days ago.

Yesterday the problem came back - actually it'd happened two days prior - I just didn't notice that nobody wasn't getting any email.

Right now, I'm on a 24 hour 'return' call list. I have four webpages open, each so I just return an email.
posted by filmgeek at 7:08 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

This isn't exactly an answer to your original question, but you might want to look into Mailplane if you're going to commit to the web interface. It's basically a browser that only does Gmail, with a bunch of tweaks for that purpose.
posted by adamrice at 7:16 AM on September 18, 2015

I've gone back and forth with my setup, so perhaps it will be useful. The basic setup is:

- Primary Gmail account. Everything forwards to this, and I have setup sending aliases to send as all of my email accounts here (~30 addresses).
- Accounts that can't forward are setup for POP checking from the primary account, set to leave messages on the server.
- I didn't migrate my existing, offline mail into my Gmail account. I miss having pre-2004 emails, but if I really need them, they're available offline.

In my primary account, I have rules setup to label email from the forwarding accounts. That makes it easy to see who a message is to at a glance.

As you commented, centralizing on Gmail has the advantage of lots of other addons being written for it (I use or have used: Streak, Boomerang, Mixmax, and various custom style sheets).

I am continually dissatisfied with my setup, but I haven't found one that works better. Feel free to memail me if you want more details about configuration or rules.
posted by heliostatic at 7:19 AM on September 18, 2015

Gmail can be configured to automatically reply from the address that the email was sent to.

That's true, but what the sender sees is not just a plain email address, but Google saying something like "Sent from example@example.com via example@gmail.com," and in some cases, mail sent from Gmail using a non-Gmail address is perceived as phishing on the other end, and is so marked -- even by other Gmail accounts. This, for me, was the deal-breaker for unifying all of my email into a Gmail account.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:15 AM on September 18, 2015

//hat's true, but what the sender sees is not just a plain email address, but Google saying something like "Sent from example@example.com via example@gmail.com//\

If you have access to the SMTP servers associated with the various email accounts you can use those instead of Google's SMTP to eliminate that. It's also a good idea to set up SPF on your domain accounts so that Google is recognized as an authorized sender.
posted by COD at 5:21 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

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