As most people reading this probably know, I’ve been using Google’s Gmail service for my primary e-mail address for the last couple months. I’ve found that this is, overall, a very useful switch, but I thought I would provide some semi-objective comments on the service.
- E-Mail access via e-mail clients. I’ve found it really useful to still run Mozilla Thunderbird alongside Gmail’s interface, but there’s a lot of redundancy inherent in this. The only real reason I’m still running Thunderbird is because there’s some data in there that I don’t want to lose. So, thus, I’m keeping track of both my Evergreen e-mail and my Gmail e-mail via Thunderbird.
- No IMAP access. POP access, which is currently what Gmail offers, only allows one-way communication between e-mail servers and an e-mail client. In a typical situation, if you retrieve mail via POP, there is no way to recover messages. Gmail’s POP service is quite nice in that it leaves copies of every message sent or received on its servers to be accessed via their web interface.
The problem is the data that’s still in Thunderbird. The one thing stopping me from completely using web access to read my e-mail are those precious messages that I don’t want to misplace. IMAP would allow me to write that data over to Gmail’s servers and essentially get rid of mail clients entirely. To me, that’s not a goal to cough at — all my bookmarks are available online for my immediate reference should I need it, so why can’t all my e-mail be the same way?
- Usability. Gmail’s service is very, very usable. The only things that I really don’t are (1) that signatures aren’t always inserted where I want them and (2) there is no option to have multiple signatures. This is another reason why I’m still using Thunderbird. Gmail, when opening a compose window, puts the e-mail signature all the way down at the bottom of the message. Since I don’t always want to use that particular signature, I have to go down to the bottom of the window and delete it. If I do want to use it, I have to go down to the bottom and cut/paste it into the proper space (at least when replying to messages).
Bottom line: Google needs to tweak the signature functionality to be more intuitive.
My experience with Gmail has been astoundingly positive, with very few (if any) disruptions in service. I’d recommend this to anyone willing to try it, and I’ve got 50 Gmail invites to get rid of anyway. Anyone want one?