I was traveling last week, and I couldn’t get my outbound SMTP to work from anywhere for some reason — from the airport, the hotel, the remote office…nowhere. Frustrating.
So I started using GMail last week, with the intention of using it just until I could get back to home base and figure out what was up with SMTP.
Well, I’m back home, but I’m still using GMail. I’m beginning to suspect that I’m never going back to Thunderbird.
It’s not that GMail is a superior experience than Thunderbird — it’s not. But it’s really no worse either. I keep waiting for the moment when I’m slapped in the face by Web mail. A moment when I think, “Oh yeah, that’s why I used a thick client…” But I haven’t found it yet. I’m just as functional, it seems.
Things I like:
The “conversations” metaphor is nice. It keeps all related emails together in a thread. I suspect the algorithm it uses to relate them is going to frutrate me at some point, since it just seems to work off the subject, but that’s a small price.
Search, obviously, is awesome. I feel really comfortable just throwing things into Archive, because I know I’ll be able to find them later.
I like that it’s the same no matter what computer I’m on. I have a laptop, but I also work from my home machine a lot. IMAP helps with organization of mail, but all the settings can’t be synchronized. I hate not having my filters the same from multiple machines — if you check your email from a machine without the same mail routing rules you’re used to, then email gets in the wrong places.
Since there’s no concept of “folders” in GMail, there’s nowhere to drag an email. I used to spend some time every once in a while cleaning out my inbox — dragging emails around to the various folders. But now I apply “labels” to emails, and you can’t drag and drop to do that. You have to check a box and select from a dropdown — not as user-friendly.
I have my work email address set to the “Reply-To” address, but I think people can still see the GMail email address in the message header (“sent on behalf of…” or something). I’d like to get rid of this, if it’s possible.
But so long as we’re complaining, I had two big problems with Thunderbird too, and they were much more serious.
I used it with IMAP, and it would hang a lot trying to copy messages to the Sent Items folder. You’d have to cancel and let Thunderbird ask to retry, when it would usually succeed.
Thunderbird had a tendency to peg my processor for some reason. If things ever got slow, and the fan in my laptop suddenly cranked up, I’d open Task Manager and find that Thunderbird was sucking up 90%+ of the processor. This happened at least once a day.
So, there you have it. The switch was anticlimactic, really. It’s just more stress free than the alternative, and I need more of that in my life.