Email has become the necessary evil of modern communication – damn if you use it, and damn if you don’t. Like most modern virtual workers, I am swamped by an unending stream of email, which pours like torrential monsoon in downtown Bombay.
With over 500 emails a day, I have used every tip and trick, including fancy email add-ons such as superlative Mail Tags and Mail Act On, but I still find going a bit rough. As an Apple Mail user, I have optimized the client with smart folders, but still it is hard to keep up with the steady stream of messages. Result – I spend precious weekend answering emails, and missing out on fun in the sun.
Maybe I am missing something, or perhaps using the wrong email client. How do you manage your email life, and what client do you use. Are there any special tips and tricks you can share with us?
61 thoughts on “Open Thread: Which Email client do you use? Why & How?”
It’s all about Gmail with me these days. I can access it from anywhere rather than being tied to one specific computer. The storage space is tremendous and doesn’t take up any room on my hard drive.
I also use Apple’s mail. Without Spotlight my life would be hell! Gmail is tempting, as is Google Apps for your Domain. Privacy and security would be a worry though.
My laptop is attached to me at all times, or at least it feels that way, so the multiple computer issue doesn’t come up, however connectivity does. I wish I could say I am able to get on the net 24/7, but that just isn’t reality. However that doesn’t mean I don’t want access to an archived email message. So I use Mail.app. I tried GMail for a while, and while cool, just didn’t provide that offline use. Yes, I know it supports POP, but then what is really the point. Why haven’t then gone with IMAP yet? If your going to just use POP with Gmail, then you might as well host your own, if for no other reason then security and privacy.
All this being said, I quickly work to get away from email. Backpack and Basecamp are working well for me in that regard, although they do present offline issues again. I just can’t win. 🙂
I use Outlook, with Rules applied to sort my incoming mail into appropriate folders. Thunderbird could do the same thing, but I use several Outlook-only plug-ins: Plaxo, LinkedIn, Barracuda. Barracuda covers the spam while Plaxo and LinkedIn keep my contacts up to date — so I can spend more time reading and replying to mail and less time keeping my contacts up to date.
I’ve been using Outlook on a Windows machine for several years now, more lately due to inertia; all my mail/contacts/calendar/to-do/etc. are tied up in it. I don’t make use of 90% of its features, but since it handles IMAP reasonably well — as does my Treo (with excellent mail app Chatter) — I’m still with it. Also, I like it because I don’t have to be online to read and answer mail as I would with a web-based service, and since I access the same IMAP mailboxes on the Treo, messages are always synchronized.
I use Apple Mail. Its so great, no rules, no folders – just spotlight thats enough for thousands of emails.
I use Thunderbird 2.0, deleted all the tags that came by default, but kept the the “To-Do” tag, which I review at the end of the week (it should be after every weekday…working on that). It’s not about what tool you use, though: it’s all about general principles for managing email.
The things I (try to) do are : never check your email first or last; blog something instead of CCing a dozen people (they’re just going to blog it anyway, so I might as well get the credit), exit completely from my email client when I need to get replying-to-email work done; disable comment notifications on my blog (my site has a “recently commented” page anyway); either don’t reply at all when something is done or have some way to note that a reply is not necessary (most replies just generates more email), and unsubscribe from every email list that has an RSS feed. I really need to turn off audio notification of email too: Thunderbird has it backwards, it should give me the satisfying, if illusory, “woosh” that Mail has (because remember, sending email just generates more email), but without the notice that I am about to besieged.
I use Lotus Notes. With rules, I can control what happens to most of the mail I expect, with unread marks I can easily find mail I still need to read, I can put everything in client folders or personal folders easily. It is a dream. I do have a couple of throw away acoounts that I use with Outlook, but it is much harder to manage than in Notes.
Of course, I also like Notes because I can write apps that interact with my mail, which I do quite often. It is just plain useful.
I have all my domain accounts forwarding to Gmail. I have multiple Gmail accounts forwarding to my main Gmail. I’ve forwarded Lotus Notes at work to my Gmail. I use filters to segregate them into labels. I use Gmail FS to keep files handy. I can check Gmail over POP on my T-Mobile Sidekick II without losing any messages or read/unread status. The Spam filter is reliable and it’s (usually) lightning fast. It works the same on my iMac at home and my Toshiba laptop at work.
You cannot beat it.
While it is web-based, and requires connectivity, checking POP on my Sidekick II is always an option.
Mark – You forward your Lotus Notes mail account from work to Gmail? Even aside from being surprised that you find it more function, do you realize the security implications and business governance issues? I have no idea what business you are in, but it seems unlikely that a company that would buy Lotus Notes and use it for mail would approve of this. Just a thought.
I’ve found myself using Spotlight more and more, both in-Mail and at the system level.
I’ve been doing this so much, that I’m seriously considering switching to just a single “Keep” folder for every email that I want to keep for future reference.
GMail for me too.
The more I use it, the more I like it 🙂
Gmail, without question. I can jump from my Mac to a Windows box, even if it’s not mine, and never miss a beat. Gmail + HTTPS gives me warm fuzzies (even though I know all my data belongs to Google). Labels are so much better than folders. Search is the bomb. Anyhow, I can’t really imagine going back to a desktop client.
Definitely Exchange via Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Web Access. I’ve gotten spoiled by the perfect syching of all email including “sent” and “deleted”. I was tired of sending email from one laptop or PC and not being able to look back through sent email from another computer.
I also use calendar and contacts heavily and sync to my cellphone – a 3G-enabled Sprint PPC-6700. Wireless “push” email and sync is free – there is no extra Crackberry surcharges or kludgy email add-ons.
Manual POP checking from a cellphone is so 90’s people!
Seriously, email is so crucial that removing even a little “friction” in syncing was my goal and until I starting using Exchange server, there were just too many “gothas” with edge conditions.
Gmail – I would never put any of my email on their servers. From a privacy point of view, it probably has a longer half-life than Cesium-127. Why does everyone trust Google on blind faith? I certainly don’t.
From a practical matter, web-only, connected-only email is a ridiculous limitation. Email has and always will be a disconnected/thick client app in order to be useful.
I use Evolution and Thunderbird. I don’t open my mail during my occasional foray into Windows OS.
I do all my mail hosting on Goole Mail (Gmail). I just really like the idea of getting to my mail anywhere, in any computer. With all my sent emails and all archived mail.
Regarding not being connected at times, that just isn’t an issue for me right now, I am always connected during working hours, and could not work otherwize. So if I am not connected, I am not working … and not reading my mail.
I fully rely upon Gmail. In fact, most of the folks I work with have set up their company emails as aliases and route to their Gmail accounts. The combination of labeling, filtering and archiving account for the most frequently used functions in Outlook, plus the integration with Google Calendar allows us all to collaborate on scheduling tasks. At first, the converstational view of Gmail took some getting used to. At this point, though, we can’t imagine going back to our old inboxes!
I’m a gmail fan myself – but let’s do this a little more thoroughly:
gmail: search, labels, filters, decent auto-contact management, threads, halfway integrated calendar, not many plug-ins.
outlook: not a great search, folders, filters, auto-contact management, no threads, well integrated calendar
mail.app: search (spotlight), folders, tags (hard to use, last time I tried), filters (hard to use, last time I tried), poor threading, great contact management (address book), poorly integrated calendar
Expand on this? My experience is rather limited, particularly with mail.app
The Bat! for mail – filters, folders, etc etc
MailWasher for managing the POP3 servers (three of them) and pre-filtering spam
Windows. You probably guessed.
I use Evolution with offlineimap to sync all mail folders between multiple machines. Like Gmail, everything stays in my inbox, and I sort my mail with the super-fast search folders.
I once used Outlook but I’ve never looked back! And all my data does not belong to Google!
Gmail, (for my domain) + Thunderbird
I have my primary email account hosted by google, which handles the spam nicely, and I check it by POP with Thunderbird. Also, all my ‘extra’ accounts are in the same Thunderbird profile so I have only 1 inbox.
I have Thunderbird filters set so that anything I send while using the Gmail web interface ends up in my sent folder. It’s great – I don’t have to have a 24/7 internet connection, (although to tell the truth my power goes out more often than my internet), and any attachments are already downloaded so I don’t have to go through the whole file download process in my browser.
There is room for improvement, still – I’d like to mirror my mail on both the laptop & desktop, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.
Gmail hands down! Yahoo as my back up. I pretty much only have Thunderbird on one machine, and that is my “junk, junk” hole. Gmail rocks, and I think everyone knows it.
TIP – Hit your e-mail first thing, reply only to what needs to be, and then archive it! Get off the e-mail, and go blog or code. Check e-mail shortly after lunch, and when you are “done” for the day – check it again – always – answer what is necessary, leave the rest for a later time – and archive often.
If you are on Yahoo – don’t have just the “INBOX” full. Always filter and file to a folder, or archive!! E-mail is a great tool, but yeah, I see your point – it can get overwhelming at times!
http://rexdixon.wordpress.com – Technically Speaking (blog)
7 Minutes with Rex Dixon – http://www.clickcaster.com/rex-dixon (podcast)
I use GMail as well as GMail hosted (for domains).
I’ve used Gmail exclusively for some time now, after ditching Thunderbird. Thunderbird seemed to buckle under the weight of the amount of email I get and store.
Here’s how I use Gmail:
I created aliases of every account I have an consolidated it into a single Gmail account. I set my preferences to reply from the same address the mail was sent to.
As for organizing, Gmail’s labels are tremendous, as are their filters. I handle mail organization as follows:
For email alerts, I set up filters to bypass the inbox and get a label applied. When I’m ready, I look at all mail assigned to that label, take the necessary actions, remove the label and archive or delete it.
For mail that needs attention but something I can’t get to right away, I label it either “Action” (top priority) or “Hold”. The important part of this step is to take a look at least once a day at all mail with those labels, take action, relabel and archive or delete.
For archiving mail, I typically apply a label, to make it easier to find. Of course, Gmail has terrific search capabilities, so I can search for mail sent by a person, with a specific label, and keywords, etc.as
Outlook…sometimes it makes me miserable…
I pre-delete spam using POP-MONITOR, which acts like a looking-glass into the mailbox, allowing me to delete junk that is flagged by the server, and also pre-delete anything with stupid huge attachments, etc.
In effect, this is like a very lite mail tool, fast and easy to read and manage messages without opening the mail mail application.
Also see here:
The majority of the people commenting here use it because it works – not because it’s a fad. Take our word.
Noobs, I use PINE.
I use Apple Mail with Gmail. I long for IMAP onGmail. Surely they could offer it as a paid service (and to remove the contextual ads). Google could clean up in this market if they offered IMAP with Gmail.
I have to use Exchange/Outlook at work, but it’s Gmail for everything else. I also get my work email forwarded to my Gmail account so I can quickly search all my emails in one place.
I also like the 2.5GB+ storage, filtering, labels, view attachment as HTML, and the disposable address feature (email@example.com). My Gmail is also the client that forwards my mail to my blackberry.
Yahoo! Mail does a better job at aliasing addresses, but the search and overall inbox refresh is too slow for me.
I wish the Google calendar integrated better with Gmail, a la Outlook, where I can just drag a message onto the cal icon and have the message contents populate the meeting entry.
Gmail – without question.
It is hands down the quickest, most reliable, visually appealing web-based email solution available. Anyone using the “Big 3” cannot debate this fact on the major usability factors.
The search & labeling is unparalled.
Most importantly…it is my main RSS reader. 110+ feeds & counting.
Take a look at the mashup that’s possible using R-mail. Easy setup & maintenance.
An earlier comment stated, “I use several Outlook-only plug-ins: Plaxo, LinkedIn, Barracuda.” I dont know about LinkedIn and Barracuda, but Plaxo also works with Yahoo! through IE, Thunderbird, and Address Book for Mac (which I use in conjuction with Mail for Mac and, while it doesn’t help with e-mails, it’s beautiful for keeping me updated on people’s info).
Apple’s Mail heavily using Spotlight and Smart Folders. All email is automatically forwarded to Gmail for archiving (using Mai Forward) leaving my Mail.app fairly clutter free. Once the email hits my Gmail accout, it is automatically forwarded to my Blackberry for scrutiny, then immediately deleted unless I need to respond right away.
I’ve been on Outlook for years (currently using 2003), and nothing I try to move to does everything the way I want it. (I have high hopes for Thunderbird…eventually.)
5 e-mail accounts: 2 HTTP and 3 IMAP, so synching is never an issue even though I work 50% of the time on the home office desktop and 50% on the ever-present laptop.
Rules, folders and flags.
ONE DETAILED CONTACT LIST WITH NO ADD-ONS!
Calendar, To-Do list, etc.
Years ago (before I knew as much as I do now), we were early adopters of DSL in our area. The Qwest move to MSN as an ISP pushed me into the MSN acct. for the personal address, but that hasn’t been all bad. The added ability to use MSN for keeping the same detail in contacts and calendar entries available everywhere has been a bonus.
In the past 8 years, I’ve only had one job that used an Exchange server and that was for less than a year. I’ve never missed it or Outlook Web Access, as all the accounts are available through a browser anyway.
I’ve tried Gmail, and use it for one specific project address, but I really prefer a folder structure for the myriad of accounts, projects, categories and documents instead of labels. (Call me unenlightened.)
Hoops MacCann … interesting way to manage your email. can you expand on this a little, for i do find it intriguing and perhaps useful because it seems you get a ton of email.
today I really prefer using gmail… I have to use many different computers every day, so any ‘localized’ solution is useless to me… just to add: I almost don’t use gmail labels… I got almost 30 mails a day and have no time to classify them :S
I use a Google Apps for Your Domain for email (https://www.google.com/a/) . It has all the features I want ( 2 gigabytes of storage per account, search tools to help find information fast, and instant messaging built right into the browser.). In addition, Google Calendar and Google Page Creator. Google Calendar integrates easily with iCa (read only)
Yahoo! mail – available everywhere (well except at security-obsessed work) and the spam filter’s pretty good. Builtin virus scanning. Also have Gmail but don’t use it much. Outlook’s like an unlocked bank vault, too tempting for the bad guys.
Main mail/news client: Turnpike: http://www.turnpike.com Been using it since 1995. Its integrated into the windows shell as an explorer add on and also acts as a multi user mail server dealing with both POP3 and IMAP. It’s database driven meaning that you can find stuff very quickly. In all its history, Turnpike has never been the victim of a virus attack.
On the road mail client: Thunderbird. I’m sure enough people will comment about this
Web interface: Atmail http://demo.atmail.com knocks every other web interface I’ve seen for 6 including Outlook web access which I thought was rubbish.
Gmail: I don’t bother. What’s the point? I have my own domain and Gmail doesn’t fully integrate into my domain and web access is invariably slower than a mail client. Besides the user interface is only adequate
Om, I might be doing something similar to Hoops (what a great name). When mail hits my address, it gets forwarded to Gmail and also to Yahoo Mail — for backup in case Gmail is down. Mail to the Gmail account forwards to my Blackberry and is also deleted there if not urgent. If I need to access any message on my Blackberry, I can log into the mobile client (m.gmail.com) and quickly find what I’m looking for.
I use WebMail.app for desktop-based Gmail. It’s got quirks and is somewhat broken, but is more easily accessible than scouring through my browser tabs. The Gmail Notifier is also pretty handy on occasion.
On my Blackberry, it’s m.gmail.com all the way.
You know…if one of us were smart, we’d parse all the information here and build the category killer for the original (and arguably still only) killer app.
I have been using outlook express for the past couple of years to manage my 6 different email accounts.. I am intrigued by its simplistic functionality, and the ability to manage several projects into folders. I use my laptop for everything, so I always have access to outlook, and I have google desktop, so the I have the search features available to me. I also have a complex way of organizing emails into their respective folders based on sender/client, topic/project, and subcatagorized as necessary. I like the fact that I have virtually unlimited space, retain all of my deleted emails (unless of course its junk, then I simply use the block sender feature, and all of their emails are deleted), and I can access my emails while offline. I will stay with outlook express until an application is presented that does it better, and allows me to transfer all settings and files as tagged.. (tried thunderbird, but then i had 5000 new messages that had to be “read”)
As much as I hate to admit it sometimes, I’m an Outlook/Exchange user. I own the Exchange box, which permits me control over every aspect of its configuration, and with the full integration afforded to my Exchange mailbox and my Windows Mobile 5.0 cell phone, I’m always aware of important messages as they arrive — whether my laptop is turned on or not. This means that when I reply to an email from my phone, the message is updated in “Sent Items” on my Exchange mailbox, as are the “read” or “unread” status of emails. Calendaring on the go is also a big plus.
Searchability? Not as great, I admit. But even though it’s a bit slow, it generally gets the job done.
I personally use Thunderbird on OS X using IMAP – it’s easily hacked, good IMAP support, extensible. With IMAP, I can access all my mail from a laptop via my central mail server.
For webmail, I use Squirrelmail, an excellent IMAP-only solution, for those times I am without my laptop.
Eudora. Great filters, index search, able to handle thousands of mails without problems.
Paid account (5gb, 17 Eur for 1/2 year). Use exclusively with IMAP from several sources (laptop, office & home pcs). Underway – web access.
IMAP is the best thing for the email. And you do not provide the info about yourself to Big Google.
As I have SUSE 10.1 running at home and office, the e-mail clients are Linux based.
@home I have KDE, so the client is Kontact.
@office I am running Gnome, and the e-mail client is Evolution.
Apart from that, I have HP hw6510 PocketPC Phone, and am running FlexMail as my e-mail/sms manager.
My e-mails are @gmail.
In the absence of a decent alternative, I use Outlook as a desktop client but purely for popping my mail. I have 6 email accounts, all set up on Gmail, either as hosted or @gmail addresses. My work email is also forwarded to a dedicated “work” gmail account.
I pop these using Outlook and use the Gmail smtp settings in Outlook so that all sent emails are also stored on Gmail. When an email is popped by Outlook, it gets archived on Gmail. I use Blackberry’s web client configured with all of the gmail accounts which sends any unpopped mail to my handheld. Why do I use Outlook you ask – I still find it useful to have a cached version of all of my mail at my fingertips and I mainly use the column sorting to find emails in Outlook.
I really don’t like the way Gmail uses “conversations” to group emails together and if this were an option, I’d like to toggle it off. I often send totally different emails with the same subject and to have those grouped together is annoying and can get you into a mess when choosing the wrong message in a conversation to forward or reply to.
Obviously, the reason for this set up is redundancy and accessibility. If I lose my laptop ordon’t have my device with me, I always have all of my mail available on the web. The only emails in the inbox are the ones not popped, ie not read, so its easy to keep up to date, And, if I were to get a new pc or switch clients, etc, all I need to do is move the messages in gmail from archive to inbox and the client will pop them all down to the desktop.
Why don’t I like Outllok? Firstly, performance. I really struggle with outlook’s performace. Even on fast machines, I have endless delays opening large pst files and almost daily have to shut down processes and restart Outlook in safe mode. Also, I don’t like the fact that pst’s are limited to 2gb. I have 6 years worth of email and would like it all in one big file that I can easily search and sort. As it stands, I would have to open 6 separate pst’s to get a view of all of that email. I know its a bit anal.
One thing I can highly recommend, for those of you who like me, view Outlook purely as a popper – check out one of the free Outlook RSS readers. I’ve been using a free one for 18 months and it really has revolutionised the way I use the web. I have over 100 feeds which Outlook faithfully pops for me every few minutes and I get to read these feeds like I would emails – they are grouped into folders like they are on bloglines, etc and I find it an extremely useful way of monitoring what’s happening on my radar in real time. The second someone blogs a new post, Outlook pops it for me into the relevant folder and I can see by the unread count against the folder if I have new stuff to read. Ctrl clicking opens the new articles in separate Firefox tabs – very useful. What’s more, the rss reader I use, pops a bliglines account so like Gmail, you can have all of your stuff stored on the web and just popped/cached to your desktop as you need. I see Attensa has just released a new free version on their Outlook rss reader – may be worth checking out.
Hope that’s useful.
I use Outlook 2003, both at work (huge corporation) and at home.
Outlook at home is great because not only I have tasks/calendar etc I have gmail, my isp mail, hotmail, and a dialup isp mail account all running together and successfully.
cheers from Australia
Gmail, with concerns about privacy and what Google is doing to do with all that data!
Not only concerns about privacy and google’s interests. My clients are international pharmaceutical companies and the projects are a matter of research, development and market access of new products. I am worried about data protection too.
I use Outlook for my work email. Gmail – Outlook for Home. The problem is the Outlook 2003 crashes every week since my mail data is really huge. The PST file is reaching 1 GB. Can anyone suggest an email client capable of POP and effortless handling of huge and numerous email forlders?
I’ve used just about any mailapp/tool out there at one time or another, from pine, to communicator, thunderbird…and yes I even used outlook. I say this because in 10 years I have managed to carefully avoid using Outlook or any incarnation of it at all….just a preference.
Over the past few years I was a Thunderbird fan, after moving from communicator, excellent spam facility, and nice labeling of messages. But the nomadic lifestyle just did work in tandem with Thunderbird.
This was dropped for a paid (12 quid/year) version of yahoo. I explain that later, but before I do…i don’t get Gmail, I really don’t, I have used it, really tried to like it (last attempt 9 days ago)…but I just cannot see any beauty in it at all, from a visual layout, to a usability angle…they say PC’s are no good for the eyesight…must get it checked.
Anyhow back to yahoo, I use paid because I use multiple domains, and need to reply from multiple domains, which are hosted on different POP servers. I pull my email in, its all online, hence I am not tied to a PC, just get me in a internet cafe. All my docs are usually attached to emails (would really like a nice doc storage page where I can reference files by URL), so all docs are with me always.
The problem with yahoo used to be the calendar (a problem which Gmail still has, unless you Greasemonkey it), when you tried to use it, it moved you away from the mail page. Now they have it as a scroll bar at the bottom of the email page, and you can add from their also….just need to get the one box feature of 30boxes.com which I think is the best web based calendar out there.
My email get filtered into separate folders based on subjects and domains. The rest I leave in the inbox, and those which need to be actioned later I file into a ACTION folder. Others which have been answered and cannot be filed, I leave in the inbox, for a mass deletion later. Tagging would be good here. I guess someone needs to get zimbra hosted and selling cheaply/free, then we would have a really good email tool.
Having said all this, I am fast moving towards no folders, or any kind of ordering, I think a powerful search will be better than any of these. The amount of email I store is ridiculous, and even though a simple A-Z filing system works wonders, it still takes me time to find an email, I would much rather search for it, just as I do for a webpage. No need to file, anymore..great!
“This new Firefox spell checker is awesome”
Interesting comments.. 😀
I am Samanta and I am a full time IM. I am working on Micro Niche Websites to generate income from Adsense and Affiliate marketing.
It is an honour to be amongst all of you.