Image via CrunchBase
This is the first app I will be discussing in the series titled “Living in
the Clouds”. What better way to start this series than starting off with Gmail. Yes, there was email much
before Gmail. I am not denying that. However, Gmail changed the way we use email
as a part of our productivity apps. I use Gmail (both the standalone version and
Google Apps for domain) exclusively for both my professional and personal needs.
With the release of Imap protocol for Gmail, Google has narrowed the gap that
was preventing the Microsoft Exchange users from migrating to Gmail (Gmail still
cannot completely replace Exchange but it solves the problem that existed for
the majority of past Exchange users). In this post, I will discuss the pros and
cons of Gmail as a part of my life inside the clouds. There are so many pros and
cons I can discuss with respect to Gmail (and also the other web apps I will be
discussing in the future) but I will be limiting myself to handful of them I
consider as very important.
- Of all the popular webmail services, Gmail has the best spam filter. One of
my accounts, the one I use while registering at online forums and websites, is
bombarded with spammers. I get around 25000 spam emails in that account every
month. Only a handful of them (in single digits) actually pass through their
spam filter and reach my inbox. On other accounts, which I don’t use on any of
the websites and use strictly for personal and professional communications, I
get zero spam mail. If you want to have enterprise level security, you can also
subscribe to the premier account in the Google Apps for Domains offering and get
the support offered by their Postini acquisition. Gmail wins hands down in this case.
- They offer a very powerful filtering system. I have often heard people
complaining about Inbox overload and how they are missing out important mails
because of the overload. It just means that they are not using Gmail and
its filtering system effectively. You can get rid of the overflowing inbox with
the help of Gmail filters and the productivity boost one can achieve with these
filters is tremendous. Few years back, I was slowly getting pissed off with
email as an effective means of communication. Once Gmail stepped in with its
amazing filtering system, giving control of my Inbox to me, I have started
enjoying email again.
- Have you ever spent your whole afternoon looking for an email from a friend
or colleague on something you need to refer immediately? I have done that many
times and I am sure many other email users have done the same thing. With Gmail,
you just don’t have to do it anymore. Gmail search is as powerful as Google’s
web search. You can easily find the email you received more than a year back
about backpacking in the Rockies or the debate you had about expansion of
European Union, using the Gmail’s powerful search feature. Digging up
information from your email archive is just a click away. If you keep referring
to a particular email thread regularly and if you don’t want to search again and
again, the Quick Links feature (available through Labs under your Gmail
settings) will come handy.
- The starring (check out multi color starring in the Labs under Gmail
settings) and Labels can be effectively used to develop a Getting Things Done
(GTD) system like David Allen’s or your own GTD system.
- Ability to add multiple email accounts (including pop access to other
emails) and the ability to use multiple emails from within your Gmail account
ensures that you have only one interface for all your email needs.
- Unlike Yahoo Mail, Gmail doesn’t offer unlimited storage. But 7+ GB and the
ever increasing storage limit means that you may never need the unlimited
storage feature. However, this limit on storage may be a severe limitation for
power users. But they have an option to buy additional storage as a part of
Gmail’s premium offering.
- The new version of Gmail throws up errors (502 error being one of them)
regularly. This is terribly annoying for power users.
- I was going to add lack of “Mark as Read” button as one of the cons. It is
now available through the Labs under Gmail settings.
There are many more pros and cons I can discuss here. For the sake of
brevity, I will stop here. But I encourage readers to list the pros and cons,
from their point of view, in the comments section. I will use the same approach
in this post to discuss another app from the clouds next week. Have a great
weekend and feel free to share your thoughts on Gmail.
Update: From the next app onwards, I will use a slideshow to list the pros and cons of the app. I feel it will be a good medium to use for the format I use in this series titled "Living in the Clouds".
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