One of our recent Google (s GOOG) Gmail posts offers a bunch of great commentary; enough to warrant continuing the conversation in a full-blown post. These types of discussions usually offer a wide variance in solutions and reasoning and I find tremendous benefit in them. Hopefully you do as well.
James kicked off the original topic with his Gmail IMAP issues while on the road. As I stated in a comment there, I’ve been solely using Gmail’s IMAP service since leaving my Microsoft (s MSFT) Exchange provider back in October of 2007. There were a few bumps along the road, but by and large, I rarely have issues. Some readers don’t either while some do. One thing that’s constant however is the mail environment that works best for you.
About half of my daily e-mail activity is in the Mail application on my iPhone. (Note to iPhone owners using Gmail IMAP: you don’t want to tap the Gmail button when configuring your iPhone’s Mail client! Follow the manual instructions provided by Google instead.) The other half of my time is split between using the Mac Mail client and Gmail’s web interface through either Firefox or Chrome. Several folks asked in the original post why bother using a mail client at all? Great question!
For me, it’s simply a matter of preference and the fact that I sometimes like to keep web reading & writing separate from mail activities. At times like that, I use Mac Mail to segregate my activities. There’s really not much of a technical advantage to my using Mac Mail, or any other client for that matter. The main reason I used a mail client at all was because I wanted offline access to my mail; Gmail’s newly added offline feature has essentially resolved that, so there’s no longer a reason I need to use a mail client any longer.
Another situation where I use the web for mail is when I’m on my netbook. While these smaller notebooks can do most anything a standard notebook can do, I try to conserve resources. Why bother wasting CPU-cycles and memory by running an application like Outlook or Thunderbird when I don’t have to? I’ve found Google’s Chrome browser to be ideal for Gmail on my netbook. As a nice touch, I’ve used Chrome to create a “Gmail application” on my Windows desktop, which is essentially just a dedicated shortcut to Gmail in Chrome. Actually, I have two of these: one for my personal Gmail and one for my GigaOM mail, which is a Google Apps account. To do this, just click the Page icon at the top right of Chrome and select the “Create Application Shortcuts…” option. You’ll be prompted for which location(s) to create the dedicated shortcut: Desktop, Start Menu and/or Quick launch bar.
In an effort to broaden horizons on the topic, why not share your mail client preferences? Do you use a mail client at all? If so, which one and what’s the compelling reason for you? I realize that some of you are in situation that warrant the necessity of using a mail client, so this definitely isn’t a “one size fits all” type of discussion. But perhaps you’ll get some insights that you hadn’t thought of. Have at it in the comments!