Looking for a Gmail equivalent
December 13, 2016 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Are there any (non-Google) paid email providers that support a Gmail-like label and archive workflow?

I've read a few horror stories about Google closing people's accounts suddenly without giving them any recourse. Given how critical email is to online identity, I've gotten a neat personal domain that I control, and I'm looking at shifting over to a paid email service with good customer support.

I've been using Gmail for at least ten years, and I've gotten used to using rules-based filters to sort my incoming email and then archiving it when I'm done with it. I really like this because I see everything in my inbox, while still being able to quickly sort through it all while keeping it organized and without losing anything.

I currently have a FastMail free trial, and while it seems to have lots of great features and comes well regarded, it doesn't seem to support the same inbox/archiving features that have made Gmail really useful to me. Are there any non-Google services out there that have tried to match Gmail's innovative features?
posted by cosmic.osmo to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I guess I should add that I know that I can probably get this by using Google Apps with my domain (and the domain gives me recourse not available to normal Gmail users), but I kinda want to distance myself from Google if at all possible.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2016

Pretty much everyone but Gmail uses folders (where an email can only be in one folder or the Inbox at a time) instead of labels (where a single email can have multiple labels, and can be in the Inbox or not). Zoho Mail supports arbitrary tags, which probably gets you most of the way there. I haven't used Zoho mail personally (I use Fastmail) but I haven't seen anyone complain about it.
posted by zsazsa at 9:35 AM on December 13, 2016

I have a Fastmail paid account and it wasn't until about 5 months into it that I realised that it does have some great archiving/sorting features using aliases. They might not have the same granularity as GM labelling does, but it is very effective, at least for me. Note, I think that this is only available with a paid account, not the free one, but do check.

Basically it works like this. Set up a number of folders (Accounts, Jobs, Family etc.) and then use the aliasing feature when you write/submit your emails.

So, my main account is name@fastmail.fm. When I add an account with a recruitment company, for example, I use jobs@name.fastmail.fm. When these emails arrive they bypass the inbox and are added to the jobs folder still marked as unread (screenshot). As you can see, the list of folders is easily visible and it keeps your inbox mostly clear. I think this is a great way to work.

I use this method in conjunction with Aquamail on Android and the process is seamless.

FWIW Fastmail support is excellent and have had zero problems since joining them a couple of years ago. They also added 2FA this year which was a huge plus.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:59 AM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I use email addresses with my own domain name, but I forward everything to a Gmail account to take advantage of their sorting and filtering features and their mobile app.

You can set up Gmail so that when you send mail from your Gmail client it uses your own domain address as the return address (rather than using your Gmail address as the return address). Since no one sees the Gmail address, there's no problem if for some reason you can't use that Gmail account anymore.
posted by Umami Dearest at 11:11 AM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

ProtonMail does Gmail-style labels, filters, and archiving, as well as encryption with servers located in Switzerland (if you're concerned about privacy and security). They have free accounts so you can check it out; paid accounts get priority support, custom domains, more storage, additional filters, etc.
posted by zebra at 11:35 AM on December 13, 2016

Zoho has definitely become more Gmail-like in the 3-ish years I've been using it. Tagging support is similar to Gmail's labels, but without the ability to nest. Last time I really dove into the filters they seemed a little buggy, but that was right after they introduced the new interface - it may be sorted out by now.
posted by sibilatorix at 12:43 PM on December 13, 2016

Just to put a perspective on things, GMail has over one billion active users, and you shouldn't base your decision on a few horror anecdotes.

Having backups with a different provider is something you need to do regardless of the provider if email is critical to you.
posted by Sharcho at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2016

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