Gmail rocks. Everyone should use Gmail unless they only have very basic email requirements (i.e., are a baby boomer with limited computer skills and need a highly streamlined user experience). Up until about 6 months ago, I used Outlook at work and Yahoo Mail for personal messaging. While the Yahoo interface is easy-to-use, the poor performance searching contacts and email often frustrated me.
I made the switch. If you use one of those “other” providers, I know you’ve been considering moving to Google Mail. Don’t put it off. It’s easy to transition all your data. And you will get back hours of your life.
10 Reasons to Switch
- Emails are a two-way conversation and Gmail automatically links together all the emails for a topic across the email participants. Gmail calls this ‘threading’. Threading saves lots of time searching for old emails to refresh your memory of the latest exchange. The more diverse your email topics the more valuable this will be.
- Spam filtering is far superior. My old Yahoo account would receive 50 spams a day (yet another medical breakthrough) and occasionally some non-spam would slip in. That required me to check my Spam folder periodically or risk losing real email (waste of time). I receive 2 spams a week with Gmail.
- Gmail search is incredibly fast and the search results are presented in an easy to read manner.
- Gmail provides 7.5 GB of storage making deleting emails unnecessary. Instead, I ‘archive’ them (although I can easily delete them if desired) in case they might be needed in the future. Archiving hides the emails so they do not clutter my inbox. However, search results include these emails making it easy to find the needle in a haystack. Considering that many people have corporate email accounts and frequently are unable to send/receive due to being over their email size limits, this saves enormous time scrubbing attachments as well.
- Calendering is very integrated and the scheduling of meetings with contacts is seamless. The interface is also easier to use than Yahoo for multiple calendars (e.g., a shared family calendar, contact birthdays, or your favorite sports teams). Reminders can be emailed or set as pop-ups on your computer. Labs widgets further improve the usability experience (dim recurring meetings, attach documents).
- Gmail email, contacts, and calendaring are easily setup for mobile synchronization on my iPhone 3gs. Follow these instructions and never worry about housekeeping these again.
- You can keep your old email account and send emails from within Gmail with that return address. Some people may want to keep multiple accounts or their old account in case someone doesn’t receive your update about switching.
- Gmail has Google Docs which allow you to create, read, or edit any document, presentation, or spreadsheet online without needing Office. It is also a powerful collaboration hub to share items with other users and work on joint materials.
- Chat is embedded within Gmail and optionally shown on the same page as your email. This makes online talking easier within the context of your everyday work.
- Access to future innovation. Google continues to innovate faster, as an example Google Wave. While currently an emerging platform (combining e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking), Google Wave will continue to evolve from its first generation incarnation as people find new ways to apply the platform to specific use cases. Other recent innovations include Gmail Offline and other Lab widgets.
While Gmail is the best offering, it does still have some limitations:
- Contact management is critical as I have 1300+ contacts. Google contacts still does not do enough to gear the user interface towards regular contacts. I also want smart prompting to help me maintain communication with important people on a semi-regular basis. Xobni is heading in this direction and Google should adopt better social media integration features. Adding new contacts is also non-efficient as Groups assignment happens as a second operation after adding a contact.
- Google also does not allow creation of recurring tasks, something many others are asking for in the enhancement forums.
- Another serious gap is Google’s lack of “notes”. I’ve had to adopt Evernote to fill the void.
- The user interface is not as similar to Outlook as Yahoo, making it harder for less technical users.
- Privacy. Actually, I don’t have any issues with this. Yes, Google will scan your emails and use it to better target advertising at you. Yes, this is scary if you think a person at Google wants to read your personal materials. However, most of us are just too boring in the grand scheme to make this an issue.
Did I cover your favorite unique features in Gmail or are there major capabilities that you would recommend? What are you not happy about with Gmail? Let me know.
For those that decide to make the transition, see my recent blog on suggested steps to follow.