For years I was jumping between Email services and configurations. I started out using Hotmail in High School, then went to a bunch of other “cooler” email services, then tried hosting it myself and using Microsoft Outlook, then ultimately gave up and would read Email directly on my server using Pine.

But I have finally worked out the best way to setup Email!

Firstly, the undoubtedly best free web based Email service is Gmail by Google. Here’s a quick run-down of why it’s so great:

  • Conversation Threads - When having a ‘conversation’ via Email (ie: sending messages back and forth between the same people/person), all of these Emails are compiled under the one ‘thread‘ rather than having a new Email listed for each message sent.
  • Searching - Google Search within your Email account (need I say more?)
  • Keyboard Shortcuts - You don’t even have to touch the mouse to send Emails and navigate around your account
  • Labels - These are like folders, so you can quickly categorise your Emails as they come in.
  • Filters - You can filter Emails by address, by name, by subject type and so on. With these filters you can assign certain Emails a label, or forward them to another account or automatically delete them.
  • Manage multiple Email accounts - Send and receive from all of your other Email accounts using your one Gmail account (my favourite feature).
  • Space - You have 6.5 Gig of space in your FREE account and it’s growing everyday.
  • Spam Protection - The Gmail developers are upgrading their spam detection for you all the time, you don’t have to ever worry about it.
  • And all the other features: Starring, Chat, Integration with Google Calendar and Google Docs, Archiving, Gmail Software for Mobile Phones, and so on.

Okay, so Gmail sounds good, but I prefer Outlook.

A couple of features I didn’t mention above is that Gmail has POP and IMAP access. This means, you can setup Outlook to download all of your Emails just like any other Email account using POP. But why would you want a copy of your Email in your Gmail account and also in Outlook on your computer? For the simple reason that no matter where you are in the world, you will have access to your Email. You don’t have to be at your computer!

Another cool feature is when you send an Email using Outlook, your Gmail account will have a copy of that Email in it’s ‘Sent Mail‘ folder.

How is IMAP different from POP?

Well with POP access, Outlook downloads the Emails from the server, but if you delete them from Outlook or move it to another Folder or ‘mark it as read‘, your Gmail account wouldn’t automatically know that you have made these changes and the Emails would still be sitting as ‘Unread‘ in your Inbox. With IMAP, everything you do in Outlook is synced to your Gmail account.

If you read an Email in Outlook, Gmail changes the status of that Email to ‘read‘. If you delete an Email, your Gmail account will automatically delete that same Email.

A little more about how IMAP is different from POP (written by Google)

But I don’t want to have an @gmail.com Email address, I want to use my business Email address!

The solution is Google Apps. You can setup your domain on Google Apps which comes with the Gmail Service, plus a whole bunch of other cool services for your business or organisation. As an example, here’s how Ecreate has its Email setup:

  • We use Outlook for our Email via IMAP.
  • Ecreate staff can also log-in to their email by going to http://mail.ecreate.com.au
  • All our other Email accounts (personal, gaming, etc) are managed via this one account.
  • Our staff have their Email synced to their mobile phones in the event they are on the road (via IMAP) - So if we send an Email even from our phone, it will instantly show up in Outlook Sent Mail as well as the Gmail Sent Mail folders just as if we sent it from anyone of those.
    Don’t worry, we pull over before sending any Emails from our phones!

So why is this setup so great?

  • We get all the Spam Protection provided by Google - Nearly all Spam is caught by Gmail before it gets to Outlook or our Phones.
  • Our servers are given a break as they don’t have to handle Email.
  • No matter where we are in the world, we can log-in to our Email via the Web and get all the benefits of using the World’s best webmail.
  • We use Outlook with Business Contact Manager just like anyone else, with a backup account on Gmail in case our system goes down.
  • Our staff can chat to each other directly via their Ecreate Gmail Account, share calendar events, share documents and do everything else that comes with Google Apps.

Outlook 2007 is really slow when using IMAP, please help!

This took me a while to learn. Outlook 2007 isn’t that great at all, in fact it’s rather slow … but it can be tweaked to give it a performance boost. Here are a couple of articles that I used to tweak Outlook on my system. Performance has definitely improved:

I found that the main thing that helped my performance was setting Outlook to only download the ‘header‘, rather than the entire Email when it does a ‘Send-Receive’. A ‘header‘ is essentially everything your computer needs to know about the Email to deliver it, plus a little more. It contains who sent it, the date sent, the size, the subject, who it was sent to, but not the content or attachments… so obviously a header is considerably smaller and thus, much faster to download than the full Email.

Summary

  • Setup your domain on Google Apps.
  • Add any other Email accounts to your new Gmail account.
  • Sync your desktop Email software (such as Outlook) and your Mobile Phone with your Gmail account using IMAP.
  • Tweak Outlook 2007 to give it some performance.

If anyone wants any further help setting it all up, feel free to shoot me an Email… have fun!

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 16th, 2008 at 12:23 pm and is filed under Email, Internet. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.