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Summary:

Google has announced Gmail access via POP3 to other email accounts. Mail Fetcher is only available to a “limited number of users” but once you get it, you’ll have one more way to use GMail as your main email client. Mike Arrington says Gmail Just Got […]

Google has announced Gmail access via POP3 to other email accounts. Mail Fetcher is only available to a “limited number of users” but once you get it, you’ll have one more way to use GMail as your main email client. Mike Arrington says Gmail Just Got Perfect. Did it really?

POP, a.k.a. the Post Office Protocol, allows you to download email messages from another server into your Gmail account. This differs from simply forwarding messages from the external account because you can get at messages that you received prior to enabling the forwarding. So if you have lots of old email that you’d like to fetch into your Gmail account and make it searchable, you should be able to do it with Mail Fetcher. Going forward, though, it’s not obvious how POP access is significantly better than simply forwarding from the additional account… unless for some reason your external account offers POP but not forwarding. For context, Yahoo only enables forwarding and POP access in its $19.99/year Yahoo! Mail Plus. If you can’t forward mail from your Yahoo account, you can’t get it by POP either.

Might this mean the “on behalf of you@gmail.com” will no longer appear on emails with a custom from address? Perhaps not, if you follow the link on the Mail Fetcher announcement to the information about custom from addresses. The customized Gmail ‘From:’ address for POP3-accessed accounts looks like it will function just like the custom from addresses already available. Your Gmail address is included in the email header’s sender field, and some email clients, notably Microsoft Outlook, will display this as “From you@domain.com on behalf of you@gmail.com.” Perhaps this meets some anti-spoofing/anti-spam standards. Any WWD readers aware of Internet mail standards that might apply? If an account is accessed via a POP client, can that client represent itself as sending from that email address?

Gmail still lacks IMAP capabilities, which would allow online and offline access with synchronization to other mail clients, something that’s becoming increasingly important as we access our email from all sorts places and devices. Even if Google implements a disconnected version of their interface, that doesn’t entirely solve the anywhere access problem, because many devices can’t access the standard or mobile version of Gmail. But lots of software talks IMAP.

For more ways Gmail could get closer to perfect, see Liz Gannes’ Please Add These Features to Gmail. Be sure to read the comments too–WWD readers have lots of ideas for ways to make Gmail better.

  1. It’s not perfect, but its still by far my favorite way of doing email. I used to use it for pop, but I love the tagging and keyboard shortcuts so much, I use the web client exclusively now. It’s spam filter is light years ahead of yahoo (to pick another example). Yahoo’s new mail client is pretty much unusable and the spam is terrible, so I have pretty much abandoned it.

    Things I’d like to see (which Liz does cover)

    - better sorting
    - improved integration with google calendar
    - perhaps improved contact handling, but this has never been an issue

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  2. Barring the use of a POP Extension that would need to be supported by both gmail (they don’t appear to) and your other account, POP is a retrieve mail only protocol. You typically send with SMTP.

    Therefore, the From line will not have a part with POP mail and will continue to behave in the manner described.

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  3. This is a great new feature from Google – It allows for a lot of added convenience, especially if you find yourself checking five other email accounts throughout the day. Think of the extra time you can spend slacking off at Starbucks! [Note to self, no more Starbucks referencing.]

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  4. Thanks for clarifying that POP is retrieve only, Bex. Seems like those who want the custom from: to work differently will likely be out of luck even with Mail Fetcher.

    @Chris: Starbucks is just too rich a reference, isn’t it? Hard to avoid it.

    @Deepak: I tried the new Yahoo client for maybe one day and then switched back to the old one–it was awful! I agree, gmail is very nice, and I use it as my main client, even if it does identify itself as the sender of my mail from my other addresses.

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  5. [...] Anne Zelenka is not that impressed by Mail Fetcher as well. She gives her reasons over on Web Worker Daily. Liz has a list of things Google can do to make it nearly perfect. But then she is a passionate user! [...]

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  6. Anne

    I don’t blame you. I agree that the interface can be an acquired taste like OM says on his blog, but labels and keyboard shortcuts pretty much do it for me.

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  7. Interestingly, if you get a yahoo.com.au email address then you get POP access for free.

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  8. The β€œon behalf of you@gmail.com” annoyed the hell out of me !

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  9. hey check out this

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  10. mistaken link- sorry. This is my blog – Digital Dreams.

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