Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gmail is my E-mail

In the past few months, I have witnessed the rapid spread of a terrible disease.  This disease is not physically harmful, but, let me tell you, it aggravates the snot out of me.  It affects users of the internet, and here are the symptoms:

1) The victims are unhappy with their e-mail services and/or e-mail clients.
2) They are unwilling to fix the problem.

Now, there's a good chance you're rolling your eyes right now and thinking, "There he goes again.  He's writing this just for me because we've been over this a million times."  Well, you're wrong.  I am not writing this "just" for anybody.  I personally know a large number of people infected by this virus.  In recent months, the victim count has grown at a disturbing rate.  You are not alone.

So now you're probably thinking, "Yeah, yeah.  I know you're going to tell me to switch to Gmail again."  Not exactly.  You don't have to "switch" to anything.  More specifically, you can enjoy the benefits of a better e-mail solution while retaining your current e-mail addresses.  To find out how, read this quick tutorial:

Manage All Your Email Accounts with Gmail

As the link explains, you can use Gmail to manage all your e-mail addresses without your contacts ever knowing you are using Gmail!  You can even import all your old e-mail into Gmail.  It's super-duper easy; I promise.

Of course, you're probably thinking, "Okay, I understand the 'how,' but not the 'why.'"  Why would anybody want to use Gmail?

Reason #1: Gmail's web interface is the best e-mail client in existence.

Forget Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook, and Apple Mail.  The best software for managing your e-mail doesn't need to be installed on your computer.  All you need is a web browser!  Gmail's web interface has so many great features and options that I can hardly begin to describe them all.  (Of course, the default settings are great too, just in case you don't like to tinker.)

Gmail has an excellent labeling system that is a huge improvement over the typical "folder" systems other clients use.  It also has a robust filter system for automatically managing your e-mail as it arrives.  The search function is fast and effective; I never have trouble finding old messages.  You can also enable hotkeys if you're not a fan of clicking on everything.

Gmail Labs allows you to turn on extra features, including multiple inboxes, forgotten attachment detector, undo send option, and much more.  In addition, there are many browser extensions that you can use to change the way your web browser handles Gmail.

Most importantly, you can access the Gmail web interface wherever you go.  You don't need to install anything!  However, if you're still attached to your current e-mail client, Gmail's service still works fine with the aforementioned e-mail software as well as others.

Reason #2: Gmail (Google) accounts contain many other useful tools.

Your Google account will also come with an awesome calendar that supports all the main features people need in a calendaring system.  These include recurring appointments, meeting invitations that work even with people who don't use Gmail, task management, and more.  Easily access it all from your web browser.

Other features include Google Talk for chat (IM, voice, and video), Picasa Web Albums for photo management, Google Reader for managing RSS feeds and non-RSS web articles,  Google Docs for an online Office suite (yes, it supports common Microsoft Office formats), Blogger for... well... blogging, Google Voice, and much, much more.

Reason #3: There is no better junk filter.

The spam filter is regularly praised by IT experts as being the best of its kind.  I have been using Gmail since it was in its invite-only beta stage years ago, and I think I've only ever had two false positives and maybe five spam messages that didn't get automatically filtered.

Reason #4: Gmail is reliable.

I've never been unable to access my e-mail.  Ever.

If you are concerned about losing your mail, you can back it up automatically using an online service called Backupify.  You can also use it to back up accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and others.  Backupify accounts are available for free until February 15th, so don't wait!

Reason #5: Gmail has a bright future.

Gmail is under very active development; it is constantly being improved.  It integrates well with the latest technology - new browsers with massive plugin support, mobile devices, and various "Web 2.0" applications.  You can be confident that your Gmail account will keep up with whatever the IT industry dreams up next.

I could go on about why I use Gmail, but I'm sure you get the picture.  If you have any questions about Gmail, be sure to drop me a message or leave a comment.  If you already use Gmail, check out this recent article for some advice on getting the most out of your e-mail experience:

Become a Gmail Master Redux

Google also has a list of useful Gmail tips.

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