The Dodge Retort

Tech, media and other interesting stuff

Moving to Gmail brightens my Outlook

Posted by jdodge349 on February 6, 2009

Someone twittered the other day, saying they wish they could quit Outlook as a mail client. Many are trapped at work given that Exchange servers are so corporately pervasive.

I no longer have that problem, having left my fulltime job a couple of weeks ago. Bye, bye Outlook at work and bye, bye Outlook at home. I don’t have anything against Outlook. I was quite comfortable with it although at my former job, it could be painfully sloooooow. But given my change of work scenery, it seemed like a good time to switch from Outlook and to Gmail, which is cooler. That’s G as in Google.

You might say Gmail has brightened my outlook. The transition has been a success although I did not expect it to be perfect.  A seamless transition would have meant Gmail was similar to Outlook. I want change (and hope).

The most significant difference is searching for people in my inbox using, ah, er, search. What a novel idea?! In Outlook, I’d organize my mail by name and wade through my inbox entire to find someone.  Search is easier and much faster. One can search contacts in Outlook (2003), but not actual email.

Listing message headers side-by-side within an e-mail thread also took a couple of days to get used to, but I’ve found it very intuitive. It also allows me to see more e-mail headers in a single screen. Gmail Calendar  is ok and I’ve just started my sending my daily schedule to my cell phone. The key will be seeing if I space out on an appointment which I have been known to do occasionally.

The contact manager is my biggest complaint. My Outlook contact list uploaded easily, but it was is something of mess because I did not use the right fields for everything (no one has ever accused me of being overly organized). So my contact list starts with about 20 phone numbers which do not have a name assigned to them. When I delete the unassociated number, it ripples through to the named contact and loses the number. I probably need to clean up my contact list.

What’s more , the contact manager is slow, particularly when creating a new contact. Sometimes, I get an error message trying to save a new contact. And deing prevented from putting in an email address a second time is very irritating…especially when I think it’s the first time.

Here are a  few more observations:

— With my son overseas, I LOVE the video chat. However, going through the contact list to set up chats is a bit of a pain. There’s got to be an easier way.

— Privacy: All my vital information is with Google now. When contextual ads start showing up in my inbox, I’ll start to worry.

— E-mail sent to my old address is simply forwarded to my Gmail account. That took a minute to do. The transition also forced me to get rid useless e-mails you might have been keeping. Have you ever thought what you’re leaving behind when you leave this fair planet?

— I do miss the Outlook folders and am figuring out the labels and filtering in Gmail that allow you to classify e-mail. Gmail doesn’t seem to have drag and drop, but I’m not sure I’d need it if it did.

— Every tech blog in the world yesterday reported that Google with support multiple panes in Gmail. That’s a major step forward and should ease the ability to do more than one thing at a time in Gmail.

As I learn more, I’ll pass it along. For now, I give Gmail a solid B+.

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5 Responses to “Moving to Gmail brightens my Outlook”

  1. John,
    We will all be moving everything to the cloud.
    Now, you need to do Google docs.
    My one frustratration with Google is the lack of a real CRM and task manager. I am astonished they left that out.
    BTW, Microsoft does appear to be doing some interesting cloud stuff. For example, they have something called ‘SkyDrive’ that will let you store and share up to 25GB of stuff for free.
    I think we are in the equivalent of early PC days with many application players. There is a lot of cool stuff from vendors most people haven’t heard of. I don’t know which ones will survive.
    Newt

  2. I am such a big fan of Gmail, been using it ever since its inception. Once you get used to the labeling and archival system, it stands in quite comfortably for folders, but it does take a little bit of getting used to.

    I’ve actually had the opposite problem as you, I never really got the hang of Outlook in a corporate setting and found it way too clunky. I just could not keep my contacts organized and searching was/is an absolute nightmare.

    • jdodge349 said

      Maria,

      I’ll get there for sure. I did not want to overly gush about it…but my appraisal is an honest one and positive for sure.

      Best…JD

  3. Rimas said

    You should’ve been using Xobni to enhance your outlook. I don’t use outlook, but if I was forced to, I would obviously have searched for better plugins if I wasn’t satisfied. simple. plain switching is never the only solution. explore other options! (btw, i use gmail)

  4. Myrta Statires said

    Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing

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