My switch to Gmail

I read this Lifehacker article about becoming a Gmail power user and it really appealed to me so I decided to try making the switch. I'd been using Outlook 2003 Professional for years and it's slow and bloated and awful. Two weeks ago I redirected all my email to Gmail and now I mean to report my findings. First here's the good stuff:

  • It's of course great to be able to get my email from any location. Especially handy now that I roll with the laptop.
  • The search is much faster and more intuitive than Outlook.
  • I don't have to run Outlook anymore!!
  • I like the way Gmail groups my mail into conversations. I find it easy to keep track of ongoing conversations without even using the search.
  • Labels are great and handy.
  • UI is infinitely quicker and more responsive than Outlook.
  • Keyboard shortcuts are great.
  • I like how simple the contact groups are. I never figured that out in Outlook.
  • It was easy to import my contacts from Outlook.

And now here are my damn complaints:

  • All the wonderful Greasemonkey scripts that Lifehacker talked about are indeed wonderful. Except that when Greasemonkey's enabled it crashes my Firefox about 25% of the time when loading Gmail, which is a serious bummer. Still looking into whether there's a fix for this...
  • The Greasemonkey scripts like Label Colors and Gmail Macros make me annoyed that Google doesn't include these features in the service. They're great, add them! Especially the popup label macro. I'm having a hard time living without that one.
  • The spam filter is decent but not perfect. For the first week and a half it seemed like anything with MicroCap or SmallCap or Stocks in the title breezed on through the spam filter no matter how many I marked as spam (and I marked a LOT as spam.) I made a filter to move those to a junk label and after a while longer of marking them spam, Gmail is taking care of them. Now about 10 to 20 Russian and Japanese spam get through a day and I have no idea how to stop those. If there were a way to junk all the emails that come to me in a language I can't read that'd solve it. I'm trying to collect all those emails in a folder to find some commonality to filter on but it's a hassle.
  • The contact manager does the job but it's cumbersome to add people to your contact list and group them which is a habit I picked up last year that's been helpful. You have to click "More options" , "Add sender to Contacts list", click "Contacts", search for the person you just added, click beside their name, use the "add to group" pulldown.
  • I want to import my old email archives from Outlook so I can search them easily but there's no official way to do it. There's Gmail Loader and gExodus, but neither of them work for me and it looks like there's no way to preserve your original message dates. Lame.
  • I also use Google Talk and I'm annoyed at the lack of integration. I wish there was a way to send emails quickly from Google Talk without launching a browser. Picasa has this ability for emailing pictures. Seems like it'd be trivial to add and it would be drastically faster than having to load up Firefox, log in, hit C, etc for quick mails. The "email" button in chat windows only seems to work for Gmail users.
  • It's kinda creepy having all my info on Google's servers. But luckily I'm boring.

Despite my complaints, I'm fairly happy with Gmail and I'll probably stick with it. There's no way I'm going back to Outlook, that's for sure. Though I can imagine a service that threw a few more bones to the power users. Of course that'd be taken care of by Greasemonkey if it weren't for the Firefox crashing issue.

Brad Turcottegear, tech