My GMAIL experiment comes to an end

Since August of last year, when I received a GMail invitation from Rudolph, I’ve been running all my mail through GMail. In other words, GMail was my primary interface to any and all email.

It went swimmingly! This is a fantastic product: to my mind, it’s not so much the 1G storage, as it is the fact that you can search for and find emails in the blink of an eye and, quite importantly, the idea of dumping all processed emails into a great big container, called “All Mail” by GMail. The only thing that is still missing, is the possibility (I would pay for this) to change one’s “from:” address to one’s business or other email address. Reply-to is not good enough. My emails should appear as if they’re originating from the networks of my employer, the TU Delft.

Because it doesn’t look like google is going to come with a paid service including this functionality any time soon, I decided this weekend to end my GMail experiment and move my mail back “home”. The idea is to try and see if I can emulate my favourite features on my work server.

To start with, I’ve changed my IMAP setup at work to use maildir format mailboxes, as opposed to mbox format. Now it’s less of a problem when folders get large. A whole folder hierarchy can be searched with for example Thunderbird. mbox doesn’t support subfolders.

So, I’m going to mimic, at least partly, the GMail approach by putting all my read mail into an “Archive” folder. This will facilitate searching and also solves the common problem of “this-mail-actually-belongs-in-two-folders-what-shall-i-do?”. By using Thunderbird saved searches, I can do something similar to labels. I used to sort mail into hundreds of little folders before I ran into GMail. In a slight deviation from the all-mail-in-a-giant-bucket philosophy, mailing list mail will still be sorted automatically into separate folders.

I’ll let you know how all of this goes.