How To Switch to Gmail - Part 1 of 2

During my two weeks working with just Web-based applications, I made the switch to using Gmail for all my email. This is part 1 of a 2 part series on why I picked Gmail and how I've made it work.
Published: Jan 28, 2008
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows

Switch To GMail - Part 1 of 2

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

People are creatures of habit and by nature we resist change. It's hard to change jobs or change schools even when the benefits outweigh the negatives. I believe, however, that the more changes you have to make the easier it becomes for you to make changes. It was with this thought in mind that I decided during the holidays to try to go for two weeks without my desktop software. This was no easy task. Keep in mind, for example, that I've been using an email client since 1994. I've been using Microsoft Word since 1989, Excel since 1990. You get the idea.

I decided that for me the biggest challenge would be finding a better way to do email. When I did all my email from one computer it was easy. All my email was on that machine and nowhere else. I started encountering problems, however, as I started to do email from more than one device. From my computer, my laptop, my Blackberry. If I went to travel I'd have to synchronize the email on my laptop with the email on my desktop. When I returned I had to reverse the process. It got to be a pain and it caused problems with my email client because files would get corrupted.

I did quite a bit of research on the Internet. I read entire newsgroups where people discussed email options, talked about their personal experiences, and so on. When I'd finished my research I decided to switch my email to Gmail by Google. I want to share this experience with all of you and to do that I want to share the why as well as the how. So, here are a few of the reasons why I made the switch.


POP, which stands for Post Office Protocol was the first generally accepted way to do email. POP is perfect if you're handling all your email on one machine. The idea behind POP is that your email client downloads all your email from the email server and onto your PC. I've used POP3 mail since the creation of the Internet. It's what I was used to and comfortable with. When you start accessing email from multiple devices, however, POP3 starts to come up short. So, in looking at GMail one of my considerations was that it offered IMAP. IMAP, which stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, gives you an easy way to receive email messages on multiple devices. IMAP will also sync your emails between devices. I can get my email right on the Web, from my Thunderbird email client, and on my Blackberry smartphone. If I delete a message on the Web, it's also deleted on my phone. If I mark a message as "unread" on my phone, it's also marked unread in Thunderbird and in the Web-based interface. Slick and very handy.

Gmail "Mail Fetcher"

Another reason for selecting GMail was a relatively new feature of Gmail called "Mail Fetcher". What this does is allow your Gmail account to get all the email from other email accounts. You can fetch the emails from five (5) other accounts and it costs you nothing. It's also very easy to setup. For my needs it was perfect. I could get the email from all of my accounts which includes my marketing email, SIAF, Tucows, and personal, in one interface. The screen shot shows the dialog for the function that lets you get email from your other accounts. All you do is put in the email address you want to receive mail from, put in the user name, password, and the POP server, and you're good to go. You can also decide if you want to leave a copy of messages on the server, label messages, archive messages, and whether or not to use a secure connection. When you click Add Account the system sends a verification email to the email address you just entered. You can go to your email account and click the link in the email or just enter the verification code in Gmail. In this way Gmail knows that you own the account. It's just that easy. In addition to this feature, Gmail has another option to Send mail as which lets you send email through Gmail as if it were from your other accounts. I did this for my four (4) primary accounts. When you've set up Mail Fetcher and Send mail as you're just about ready to handle all your email from one, convenient place.

SPAM Control

Another reason I selected Gmail was the amazing SPAM-handling abilities it displayed. SPAM is a big consideration especially if you're going to manage all of your email through one Gmail account. The SPAM filtering function is very good right out of the box, but should a spam email get through you can mark it as SPAM and it will disappear. With every Gmail user indicating what is SPAM, and what isn't, the SPAM filtering just gets better and better. I've been very impressed with the SPAM control with Gmail working with all four of my accounts.

That's all for this week. Join me next week when I'll tell you about some cool ways to manage your email with Gmail labels, addons for Firefox, and lots more.

If you have a question on how to do something on the computer you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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