Google Mail vs Outlook

I’ve been an Outlook fan for a long time.  I’ve got accounts with the various online mail services, but for a number of reasons, I prefered to manage my own mail.  These included the ability to define decent rules, the user interface, the pop-up notifications when a new email comes in, and the ability to archive as much email as I want.

 

I got a Gmail account a few weeks ago (thanks to Paul Boutin) and started using it.. (the address I wanted was taken, so I got xsteve@gmail.com) and a few days ago I switched my mail around so most of my mail is directed to thta account.

 

Here’s some of the reasons:


  • Spam.  Outlook has it’s built-in Junk Mail mechanism, and I’ve got Spambayes installed as well, and they work fine for getting spam out of my Inbox and into the Junk Mail folder, but the new email notification fires as soon as a message comes in, before it’s been categorized as spam.  This means a lot of bogus email notifications.  This has made the new email notification, a feature I like, and that gmail currently lacks, useless.  On the other hand, Gmail puts spam into the spam folder without me ever seeing it.  I occasionally have to look in the spam folder just to convince myself that it’s working.  And it hasn’t miscategorized anything yet, with no training on my part.

  • User Interface.  This is where Outlook should have a huge advantage, but I think Google’s done a great job here – Gmail is enjoyable to use.  They’ve managed to support keyboard shortcuts for common operations, which is one of the drawbacks to other web mail services, and commonly used mail features like Filtering and attaching files have UI that’s at least as easy to use as Outlook (except that you can’t use drag/drop to attach a file to a mail message).

  • Speed.  Gmail is fast.  Outlook is fast, too, if you’re not using your computer for anything else, but I have this habit of checking my email when I’ve just started my computer doing something like compiling a program, and this can make Outlook take ages (over 5 seconds!) to activate and update it’s window when I switch to it.  Gmail, on the other hand, being browser based, has always been speedy. 

  • Searching.  Google obviously touts this as a huge Gmail advantage, and it’s true – searching all my mail in Outlook takes a very long time; with Gmail, it’s as fast as any Google web search.

  • Availability.  With my personal mail in Outlook, I can only access it from home.  Usually I can use Remote Desktop to connect to my home PC and check my mail, but with Gmail, I can use any browser anywhere.

  • Cost.  Many of these advantages apply to any of the commercial web mail services, if you subscribe to their premium services.. the difference is that Google has a business model that allows them to offer the service without charging me anything. 

Of course the novelty might wear off and I might end up switching back to Outlook – I’ll let you know if I do.