gmail Switcher's Remorse!
August 30, 2006 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Help me like gmail.

I switched three months ago, got new biz cards printed, blasted my address book and have been doggedly trying to like it, but I don't! I miss Entourage! I miss files! I can't sort as well! I can't find things quickly enough! It's so slow to load. Has anyone else fallen out of love with gmail and then found a way to reconcile? Or must I admit defeat, switch back, and update everyone again? I feel fickle.
posted by thinkpiece to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I like gmail very much, but if it's causing you problems, why not just enable the POP server and use Entourage or any other POP client? (I would prefer Thunderbird, but that's just me.)

That is the reason I'm so fond of gmail. I like that I can use it anywhere, I like that the tools work the way I expect them to. But mainly, I like that if I'm ever in the mood, I can just fire up Mutt or Eudora or whatever and use that.
posted by quin at 12:09 PM on August 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

What quin said.
posted by giantfist at 12:10 PM on August 30, 2006

Agree with quin. If you don't like it, you don't like it. Have you tried setting up the labels and using filters to attach labels to emails?

Instructions for accessing Gmail through Entourage 2004 or Entourage X.
posted by junesix at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2006

It should be noted for the non-email-savvy that POP by default removes email from the server upon download. Therefore, your email will exist only in your local client, and no longer be on the gmail server anymore like it would be if you used IMAP (which Gmail does not [yet?] support)...
posted by twiggy at 12:13 PM on August 30, 2006

I have mixed feelings about GMail too. Here's how I handle it:

1) Keep GMail up at all times. Yeah, it kinda sucks, but at least you don't have to reload it constantly.
2) Lay into the search interface. GMail is really designed to be searched. The search is even meant to replace folders. I'll say that again: the search replaces folders. If you don't see that green search result screen every once in a while, you're not using it right.
3) But I use GMail as only a "first look" at the email. I actually download all the email to my Thunderbird locally. GMail is great at quick immediate conversations, but if you're a packrat like me, you want things nicely archived in folders. I leave the mail on GMail's server, though. It's a backup.
posted by maschnitz at 12:17 PM on August 30, 2006

Learning how to use the search and labels to your ends is what you're looking for.

1. Folders can be replaced almost entirely by labels, without the drawbacks. I had a fight with someone else on a similar Q here, but essentially, they're the same.

2. What do you mean you miss files?

3. I keep it open too. It updates automatically, which is nice.

4. When you stop changing subjects and start using conversations, it becomes exceptionally good, especially with multiple correspondents.
posted by bonaldi at 12:21 PM on August 30, 2006

POP by default removes email from the server upon download

GMail lets you set an option to move all POP-downloaded mail to the archive ("All Mail") directory. It's still there, you can go online and view it, search it, all that stuff.
posted by meehawl at 12:29 PM on August 30, 2006

I use GMail exclusively as my primary e-mail client, but the biggest thing that bothers me is the lack of sub-labels. Yes, searching is great and everything, but a basic part of orginization is being able to categorize and file... single-level labels simply ain't doing it for me.

I want a label "Friends" and then under that label all the sub-labels for my friends. Is it really that hard? Are you listening Google?
posted by c:\awesome at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2006

I just wish they would fix that subject-grouping thing. It's the only reason I would use POP, which I don't really want to do, but it's still just so infuriating. I can't help it that every single one of my friends' emails have a subject of "Hi." And I got really tired of editing the subject of 10 or 12 emails a day.
posted by peep at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2006

awesome, you can have multiple labels on an email. I don't think you can search on not-labelled X but if so, you'll get the whole thing.
posted by bonaldi at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2006

I'm not talking about multiple labels on the same e-mail, I'm asking for embedded sub-labels (in the labels box). For instance, you see the labels in the little box below chat? I want to expand that box and see my "Friends" label with a plus sign beside it. Then I click on the plus sign and it expands to show all my friends' names. That's what I was complaining about. I don't want 382 top level labels.
posted by c:\awesome at 1:32 PM on August 30, 2006

But that won't make any sense, because labels aren't exclusive -- so you could apply a label that's a sub-label of something without the master label being applied.

You can click your friends entries in contacts to see conversations with them, if that's any use.
posted by bonaldi at 1:55 PM on August 30, 2006

c:\awesome: Why create sublabels for data that is already part of the email? For the same amount of clicks, click "Contacts", then click the contact name. All conversations that the contact is involved in will be displayed below the contact information.

And I'll agree with everyone else, using and mastering tags is the secret to staying organized with gmail.
posted by hatsix at 1:57 PM on August 30, 2006

I email myself spreadsheets and other files that I would otherwise be inaccessible on my office machine, also addresses, phone numbers, and backups of my disseration, etc.

there are times when it sucks, and makes firefox all twitchy and do the spinning beachball of death thing.

Pop3 has always been a little flakey for me. I don't trust it.
posted by mecran01 at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2006

bondali: But that won't make any sense, because labels aren't exclusive -- so you could apply a label that's a sub-label of something without the master label being applied.

Which is one of the problems with gmail. Sometimes you need a taxonomy in which categories are mutually exclusive. Sometimes you need a tall taxonomy in which Felis implies Carnivora implies Mamalia. These are hard to fake using tagish implementations of folders.

If you need (or prefer) mutually exclusive taxonomies or tall taxonomies, then you are better off using pop and doing it locally, or IMAP and doing it remotely.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2006

p.s. the only reason I noticed this question was because I have the ask.metafilter web clip (rss) appear at the top of my inbox.
posted by mecran01 at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2006

my concern (not to hijack a thread) with gmail is that its all online. is there a way to back up my email on my computer so i dont lose it all when i can't connect to gmail as happened the other day? That is one advantage a POP has over it.
posted by gilsonal at 2:33 PM on August 30, 2006

Response by poster: Wow! This is great -- some of you have articulated my issues far better than I could have done. I will try the suggestions -- I am a consultant working part of the time from home and I have just not been able to wrangle gmail for optimal use. Thanks all.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:41 PM on August 30, 2006

gilsonal, follow the link that giantfist posted above. You can configure gmail to act as a POP server, giving you all the benefits of a web based client (availability from anywhere, etc.) With the local storage of POP.

You may want to either configure your POP client to leave the messages on the server or configure gmail to archive on a POP request, that way you can have your email in both places.
posted by quin at 3:11 PM on August 30, 2006

When you say it's slow to load - how slow exactly? I'm on a crappy 1Mb ADSL line here in the uk and it takes no more than a second to fire up under normal circumstances.
posted by coach_mcguirk at 3:15 PM on August 30, 2006

hat's what I was complaining about. I don't want 382 top level labels.
That's what labels are. Folders give you a tree structure. Labels give you a flat structure. If you try to use the list of labels as if it were a list of folders you're going to end up frustrated. Gmail is built to be searched. You can approximate the behavior of a folder "friends" with the contents "bob", "joe", and "jane" by creating a filter named "friends" with the criteria "label:bob OR label:joe OR label:jane" but that's probably not going to satisfy.

Google could add two features that would fit into their tags model and would help users deal with a huge tag cloud. They could display the list of labels that apply to the set of conversations currently being displayed. That wouldn't break the tags model and it would allow gmail to tell users about structure rather than forcing users to remember that information.

They could also provide the ability to specify a sort order for displaying conversations .

In reply to some previous post... If you want to exclude a label, the syntax is -label:ExcludedLabel.
posted by charm at 3:31 PM on August 30, 2006

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