Fr. Z with a question: G-Mail

Folks,… do any of you use G-Mail?

Let me know what you think of it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jonathan Bennett says:

    I far prefer my hotmail account to gmail.

  2. Thom says:

    Love Gmail. You can leave messages in a conversation instead of
    having 25 separate responses for replies. You don’t have to move messages
    to folders- you “label” them and archive them. You can find archived messages
    with a Google search box. Nice layout, reliable access. Best free email
    available, in my opinion.

  3. fxavier says:

    I recommend gMail. It’s fast and reliable. One of gMail’s quirks is that it uses “Labels” instead of folders.

    However, it supports IMAP (which is rare) and POP for standalone client access (like Outlook).

    Another great thing about gMail is that you can configure a subdomain and mx domain to point to Google. So, as an example, you could have and running on Google servers. This configuration frees your host from apportioning bandwidth to e-mail.

  4. London Calling says:

    Gmail is great. It gives you almost unlimited storage space. You never delete a message, because you can retrieve any message you’ve received or sent using the Google search engine. It has client software for mobile phones and blackberries. And gmail just keeps getting better, since Google seem to add features almost weekly. Its spam filter is better than the one on our corporate e-mail system. It does push ads on you, but they are unobtrusive.

    Best of all, I have found it entirely reliable — it’s almost never out of service.

  5. Jay says:

    Gmail could be attractive because of good storage space of around 6Gb, the other good thing about it is a decent anti-spam protection. Once something is deleted as a spam-type email, the same or similar type of message will never get through to your inbox again, but instead it is placed into spam box, where you can viewed it or delete it manually. But maybe it is nothing special about it anyway.

  6. Ana says:

    I prefer Gmail above all other free email providers. I completely agree with Thom. Also, you can access Gmail through Outlook using IMAP or POP download — what ever you prefer.

  7. Thom says:

    LOVE Gmail. No folders. Google search box for archived messages.
    Messages in conversations, eliminating 25 seperate emails for replies.
    Friendy interface. Reliable access. Best free email I’ve ever used.

  8. Phil says:

    Gmail is fabulous. Far better than Yahoo. The conversation threading is excellent, and the spam filter is flawless. I make heavy use of labels and input filters, and have several gmail accounts, for different purposes, that all feed into a single account (responses come from the original account). I also use gCalendar, and I have RSS feeds from many blogs, including yours, set up on gReader. Highly recommended.

  9. yes - get it says:

    Yes, get gmail. Other services are also free and work fine. But gmail, aside from just being generally cheery and enjoyable, makes it superbly easy to search your inbox for old messages – it’s done just like a google search-, hold lots and lots of old messages (so you have them to search through), and groups them for ease of reference when it’s the 3rd, 4th, 25th email in a chain (which gmail terms “conversations”).

    I’d rather have all Masses prayed faithfully versus Deum with the faithful receiving communion kneeling at the rail. But for today only, I’d settle for you making the switch to gmail.

  10. Thom says:

    Ooops on the double post. I thought it didn\’t work the first time.

    (Gmail seems to be more reliable than your combox, Father!)


  11. Andrew says:

    Gmail fits in the category of “greatest inventions in all mankind.” It takes a little getting used to, but the search functionality works like a dream, meaning you rarely have to delete email (especially considering the 6gigs of space they give you, which is constantly growing).

    The other benefit is that you’re working with a Google product. It’s always going to be improved down the line for the better. They listen to user reviews and suggestions, and often if you think of an idea that would improve Gmail — Google’s already working on it.

    I like to think of it this way: there are good signs that Google is taking over the world, and for now… that’s all right with me : )

  12. Gregg the obscure says:

    Another endorsement, and for reasons stated above:

    Great anti-spam features;
    the “conversation” bundling of messages is handy;
    the labels, much like labels for blog posts, are convenient; and
    I’ve not experienced any downtime or delays, unlike Hotmail, etc. – important when you’re getting passwords sent back to you in the midst of a commercial transaction.

  13. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I have it, I love it, it’s good, it’s easy.

  14. Steve Kostoff says:

    Gmail is great, like just about all of Google’s software and services. I highly recommend it, I now use it and .Mac mail exclusively, particularly as both work well across multiple platforms due to using IMAP, so my mail accounts are synched regardless if I read them from home, laptop, or iPhone.

  15. Highly, highly recommended.

    I’ve configured my family’s domain to use gMail. The spam filter is simply fantastic, no worries. The threaded conversations are indispensable as well. For Firefox users who happen to dislike text ads, installing and configuring the CustomizeGoogle plugin will eliminate most marketing copy from the interface.

  16. JohnE says:

    I use gmail as my main email and contacts list for reasons already mentioned. Some other features I like: They do a good job weeding out the spam, you can set up filters to automatically tag emails, and color-code those tags. You can format your message with hyperlinks, color, and hilighting, spell check (I never use, should I?), save drafts. I don’t know if you get the same for a new account, but I think I started with about 2 gigs of space a few years ago and now have about 6 gigs. I only use 9% of that and rarely use the delete button even though I get many newsletters and other mail. The tagging and archiving took a little getting used to, but I like it now. If you can remember some unique phrase in an email you’re looking for, gmail will find it quickly.

  17. S.J. Fuhry says:

    Gmail is definitely the best email client out there, it just takes a little getting used to. Their spam filter is by far the best, hands down.

    I set up all my email accounts (work, school, my old account) to forward all messages to Gmail and skip the inbox of that account. That way all my accounts send their mail to my one Gmail account, and I don’t have to waste all my time checking 5 different email addresses.

    The search engine for Gmail is far superior to any other email site’s search, and it has virtually unlimited storage too (they increase the amount every day, it’s over 6Gb right now).

    **ALSO you can copy all your old messages off of any old email account into your Gmail account without any problem — it will be as though you had been using Gmail all along. There’s a quick tutorial here:

    I was somewhat hesitant to import all the messages from my old email account, but it ended up working out way better than I had thought.

  18. Other than the notion that it “rocks”, do I understand that you can handle other, non g-mail addresses, through g-mail?

  19. Fr. D says:

    I’m a convert…from Yahoo! to Gmail. It was a great move.

  20. grey says:

    I’ve been using gmail almost as long as there has been a gmail, and I love it. The labels take some getting used to, but I can use multiple labels on one email and easily be able to find it. Also, the grouping of email as a “conversation” is helpful. As long as the subject isn’t changed, the emails will all be grouped together.

  21. JohnE says:

    Thanks for the tip on the Firefox plugin Aristotle. I hope advertisers aren’t paying much for those ads — I hardly ever notice them. I do vaguely remember clicking on one one time though. Must’ve been a nervous twitch in my wrist or something.

  22. yes, gmail can handle multiple addresses, ie if is set to forward to gmail account, default is for gmail reply to look like it came from rather than

  23. fxavier says:

    Other than the notion that it “rocks”, do I understand that you can handle other, non g-mail addresses, through g-mail?

    That is correct. You can have Google act as your mail server in place of your host. You can also create, manage, and delete accounts on the domain managed by Google.

    In other words, you can have Google host all e-mail accounts on You can add, delete, and manage accounts on the domain, so you can have,,, etc.

    You can also assign a subdomain, like or as a shortcut to getting to your e-mail. Or you can use a standalone web client.

  24. milanta says:

    Gmail es great, you can organize your e-mails much better than yahoo or hotmail. Gmail currently offers 6328 MB of free storage. I’ve got two Gmail’s accounts, the oldest one was in the time of beta’s Gmail and now it has 15360 MB of free storage.

  25. Arieh says:

    As others have stated, yes, Google will host your own domain for email. Just check out (Google Apps) and you can set it up for free. I use Google Apps for my own personal domain ( and have emails for the whole family.

  26. R says:

    Been using GMail since it was released to a limited group way back when. I have no problems with it. Prefer it over the other free mail accounts out there.

  27. I am not sure how this would work.

    You can use g-mail to pick up your e-mail from other services.

    How do you set that up?

  28. Jonas says:

    Actually, gmail’s great. Although, I use also yahoo, hotmail and macworld, I like gmail best of all. It’s provides a huge amount of space, it’s convenient, it’s community orientated and friendly.

  29. FloridaJohn says:

    G-Mail is my main e-mail program. To me it’s the best one I have ever used in my 10 years of Internet. Some of the features I love is being able to receive mail from other providers like AOL or MSN, so that I get all my mail in one spot. Another is being able to post items, with pictures, to my Blogs. That saves me lots of time. The span filter is really great, I almost never get vulgar spam in my In-box. The best thing for me is that it’s all stored on the Google Server and not on my computer, hogging up room on the hard-drive. Google-Talk is also tied in to the program so that I can chat with my friends in the favorites list and do my mail at the same time. Get it, you won’t be sorry!

  30. Stephen Chase says:

    G-Mail is the best. Clean, orderly interface, huge storage privileges. My favourite feature is the ability to search.

  31. Arieh says:

    Gmail can download any email service that is POP3. Just go to “Settings” and input your account info. If you use Google Apps, and you own your own domain, you can point your MX Record directly to Google’s servers and off of your current provider.

  32. Paul(different) says:

    I use gmail, and I am of two minds about it. I actually rather liked having folders, but now they have made the labels color-coded (and since you can set up rules to automatically label incoming mail from anticipated senders), it works pretty well. My main beef with it is that you cannot open different areas of the interface in multiple tabs or windows. E.g., I can’t go to compose a message, and then mid-composition right click the inbox link and open it in another tab so I can check the content of a previous message. I have to save what I’m writing as a draft and go all over to the inbox — I don’t know why the links aren’t right-clickable. Other than that, I love it, although I know people who have had problems with it interfacing with other servers in limited circumstances (there was a time last year at my undergrad institution where it wouldn’t send or receive emails to/from our school email server).

  33. Ray from MN says:

    One thing I like about gmail is that I can read it from any computer.

    When my printer broke a couple of years ago, since I don’t print that many items, I decided to not get a new one. $35 for an ounce or two of ink is outrageous. I do my printing at the public library for five cents a page.

    All I do is send my document to my gmail address, drive over to the library, open my gmail account on their computer, do my printing, then walk over to the newspaper/magazine area and catch up on other reading and then browse the new book area for interesting subjects.

    I would drop my “main” account except that over the years I have posted my address in so many genealogical websites (most of which I have forgotten) that I prefer to regularly monitor it. So I have to pay $12 a month to keep it open. I forward all my gmail to my “main” account.

  34. Wilf says:

    I’m also able to receive messages from the email account my ISP provides me as well using POP3.

    You might be able to find additional information here:

    (Under “Accounts”)

  35. Two thumbs up. Simple. Fast. Effective. (Great spam filtering.)

  36. Jeremy says:

    Absolutely go with GMail. The interface and all that is great, but the best parts are the conversations and spam protection. I get maybe 1 spam through to my inbox a week (if not longer than that) and I have NEVER had a real email marked as spam. My Yahoo and Hotmail were terrible about this.

  37. Sarah says:

    @ different Paul, you actually can open different areas of the interface in multiple tabs or windows.. one option is holding shift when you click on compose, another option is just open gmail several times (in tabs or windows) and use one tab to write and another to read a mail.

    Besides googlechat (which now also works in safari) there’s also AIM integrated, much more useful for those in the states than for me… the only thing i don’t like is that you can’t be invisible, but we can’t be in real life either.

    It also has funny little things like playing mp3’s that are in the attachment right in your browser, you can open text documents in the linked GoogleDocs which handles text document, excel files and powerpoint presentations, you can even see attached powerpoint presentations direct in your browser (very useful when you’re on holiday in Africa and no powerpoint-program is installed). GoogleDocs makes you leave your flash disk at home. I’d say make a Gmail tour;
    b blcd

  38. fxavier says:

    Fr. Z.:

    There are two options:

    First option: you can set up your own GMail account (ex. GMail can then be set up to collect mail from your hosting company. So mail still goes through your host, and it gobbles up bandwidth and space. This requires that your primary e-mail host allow POP access.

    Second, you can set up GMail to be your e-mail host. Mail goes to Google directly without gobbling up bandwidth or space from your web host. You still keep your website, and all mail goes to GMail. You don’t have to deal with addresses, since your addresses will be or whatever domain you choose.

  39. Michael Fudge says:

    It did take me a while to get use to gmail. But, after getting used to it, I prefer it to other mail programs.

    I have GMail receiving my Yahoo mail, mail from an IMAP account (MS Exchange), and I imported all of my old mail from Outlook and Thunderbird to gmail. I now have 6 years of email in it, even though I have been using it only for 6 months.

  40. Geoffrey says:

    Gmail sounds very interesting. I might have to give it a try. What about security? Any special features?

  41. Perhaps there is a good guide for G-mail out there.

  42. Scott says:

    The free POP support mentioned above is huge. At last check, this wasn’t available to nonpaying hotmail accounts.

    I use my tried-and-true Eudora as a standalone e-mail client. When I opened my gmail account, I immediately activated the POP and set up Eudora to retrieve the messages. I haven’t logged in to the site since.

    Though, if you read mail on more than one computer (e.g. desktop, laptop, blackberry), normally you can only download a given message once. In other words, if you download a message to Outlook on your laptop, it won’t show up on your desktop Outlook later on.

    A nifty trick to get around this is to change your account username on each computer’s standalone client from “” to “”. Doing so will allow you to download each e-mail once on as many individual computers as you like.

    Now that I’ve changed my primary address from Comcast to Gmail, I’m no longer chained to Comcast for life. That fact alone has made me a huge gmail fan.

  43. Papabile says:

    LOVE IT.

  44. Pope Evaristus, Martyr says:

    Fr. Z, you NEED Gmail.

    It is amazing in every way.

  45. Mark Johnson says:

    Gmail has a huge amount of free storage, and it increases all the time. When I started (if I remember right) it was something like 2GB, and now it’s over 6GB. This is way, way more than my free e-mail account that comes with my cable Internet service.

  46. Jenny Z says:

    I absolutely LOVE gmail. I would never use anything else, ever. The spam filter alone is worth it. It’s superb.

  47. Mike says:

    I use and enjoy gmail more than the other mail clients.

    good luck,


  48. Cristhian says:

    i used for work reasons and is very good, friendly, has a lot of space and its very simple

  49. Ed Casey says:


    For iPhone users, Google’s gmail has just changed. There is now IMAP support for Google accounts by default on the iPhone – which makes a BIG difference. Many people use the default gmail perogative which is basically – leave everything you EVER get in your account and don’t worry about space, since we, Google, give it to you for free, index it and let you search it easily, and , um, did I say the big draw is it’s free. Well, ok, that’s true, but some other people think it’s wasteful, inefficient and downright wrong to leave everything “live” and available in your mailbox – some would say, untidy. Now back to the IMAP feature – When you delete a message from your iPhone, or IMAP-compliant email client (if you’re not using the google web interface), it deletes it off the server. So there’s a server-side action triggered by iPhone actions. All this assumes you upgrade the iPhone to firmware version 1.1.3, which is what was just released by Apple, Inc and Steve Jobs on Tuesday at Macworld SF.
    I thought people would want to know this – since there are now 4 Million people walking around with iPhones – and with those numbers there must be readers out there with this device – and likely gmailer too.
    For myself, I have 3 gmail accounts on the iPhone and it works flawlessly.

  50. Ma Beck says:

    Love it – no pornographic spam!

  51. ashley says:

    My favorite features of g-mail are the excellent spam filter and the way replies to a message are grouped together.

  52. S.J. Fuhry says:

    There’s a much better way to do it than simply having Gmail use POP3 to download mail. It involves (1) Importing all mail from other accounts into Gmail AND (2) set up all old accounts to “Forward all messages and delete from Inbox to: your-gmail-account. This will make all your emails simply go right from them to Gmail, as though they had originally been sent to Gmail.

    Here’s how:

    1). Setup Gmail for IMAP in any email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc):

    2). Setup your old email address in the same email client using either POP3 or IMAP (doesn’t matter)

    3). Select all your old messages and copy them all to your Gmail Inbox.

    Voila! It’s as though you’ve been using Gmail all along! AND you don’t have to wait for Gmail to check your POP3 account every 30min or so (Outlook and Thunderbird do it once every minute or two) You can do this with multiple email accounts if you want, no problem.

  53. S.J. Fuhry says:

    Actually, if your current provider supports POP3, I’d use that to download the messages (see Arieh’s comment above) AFTER you set up Email Forwarding with them. But to copy over all your outgoing mail you might need to do the steps I outlined in the previous post.

  54. Doug says:

    GMAIL is, by far, the industry leader amongst web mail providers. Spam filtering is superior to the competition and the interface is vastly superior.

    Secondarily, GMAIL is the most likely beneficiary of work in the Open Social arena. In addition, there are FAR more widgets and gadgets out there that support GMAIL than the competition.

  55. Let me get this straight: You have to use a separate Google application to have your e-mail pulled from another server/location?

  56. S.J. Fuhry says:

    Well, it depends on how your email account is currently set up. There is no “Google application” unless you are referring to what you can do with your web browser.

    Probably the easiest way to move your mail, though, as I was describing earlier, is to set up your old account and your Gmail account using Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook (I would suggest Thunderbird unless you are more familiar with Outlook). Then, simply select all of your messages, and click and drag them over to the Inbox on your Gmail account. This is definitely the easiest way if you already use an email client (as in, you get your email somewhere other than your browser).

    However, if your email provider uses POP3 (it probably does, most do), you can simply login to your Gmail account, and under Settings => Accounts you can tell it to “Get mail from other accounts.” The directions there are pretty straightforward, and it just downloads all the email off of your old account.

  57. Argent says:

    No, you don’t need a separate Google application. You just go to your Settings and have all the different email accounts come directly into your G-mail account. Simple.

  58. Argent: That seems to be fine for POP. How about for IMAP?

  59. Tommaso says:

    I would agree with all the posts above except that I’ve been having several problems with Gmail since I upgraded to the Leopard OS. I’m not ready to blame them on gmail yet, but they are many and quite annoying!

  60. Gerald C says:

    GMail is the best free email so far. It is fast, reliable, easy and it’s free.

    You can even configure your email client to download the messages via pop or imap without additional cost for the service unlike the competitors.

  61. Didymus says:

    Gmail is spyware. Google keeps your mail on its servers for months after you delete it and it is all scanned to determine what ads to target you with as you browse.

  62. Arieh says:

    Fr. Z,

    Are you asking if Gmail can check other email accounts using IMAP? If so, no. Every email account that Gmail checks must be fetched via POP3. You can still set up Gmail as IMAP and use a separate email client to view your emails (even the ones that Gmail fetches from other POP3 email accounts) if you don’t want to use your browser to view your emails.

    What I do, instead of worrying about fetching email via POP3, is to change the DNS settings for my domain’s MX Record to point to Google’s mail servers. Since you own the domain and your email is at that domain too, changing the MX Record to point to Google’s mail servers would be the best solution.

  63. Ron D says:

    I have gmail and Yahoo. I like the Yahoo interface better for managing email, and it has unlimited pace. The problem with Yahoo is all of the graphic ads, some unfortunately not very modest, which can be real tiring. So yahoo is thumbs up on technology, gmail is thumbs up on no picture ads.

  64. Marcin says:

    Gmail is the next best thing after sliced bread. (I hope they did not mean a TOAST bread, though)

  65. Jeremy says:

    Another point that I haven’t seen above is that you can virtually create infinite email addresses off of one address. Here’s what I mean:

    Say your email address is Now when you give your email to somebody, say, you can use a “+” to create a unique email address that they will use to send to you:

    When an email gets sent to gmail’s servers it ignores everything after the “+” so it still is directed to

    Now the useful part for me is that you can now set up filters that work 100% of the time. You can have everything that was sent TO “” automatically tagged with “Amazon” and even have it skip the inbox if you wish (or any number of actions). Another nice thing is that if anybody sells your email address, you could tell because it would have their name after the plus. One downside to this is that I have come across a few sites that don’t let you put the “+” in the email address even though it is 100% valid.

    Also, I love the keyboard shortcuts and if you are a Firefox user, there is a great extension called “Better GMail 2” that adds a bunch of nice functionality.

  66. PeterK says:

    I have two gmail accounts and each has over 6 gb of free storage and more is added each day. Two things I don’t like about it 1) it automatically adds email addresses to my contacts list, let me decide who I want to add, 2) it automatically saves all my sent mail, I don’t want to save all my sent mail. that is like saving a copy of every piece of physical mail that I mail

  67. Jeremy says:

    @Ron D

    You can block the Yahoo Mail ads (and pretty much all graphic ads) by using firefox with an extension called AdBlock Plus.

  68. Allan says:

    I hate to disagree, but I hate g-mail. I got an account, but for some reason I get redirected everytime I go to the webmail login page, back to the main google page. If you have a google ID that is not linked to your g-mail you will never, it seems, be allowed to log on to gmail.

    I have never been able to use my gmail and have abandoned it.

  69. Argent says:

    IMAP configuration is through Settings also.

    Settings>Forwarding & POP/IMAP>Enable IMAP>Configure IMAP>Save

  70. Funny, I was just going to ask the same question… no need now :-)

  71. A. Noël says:

    I regret to say that Didymus is right: Gmail is part of the great Google index.

    When you open a message, look at the ads on the right. They will automatically generate “like” ads based on the text in the message.

    A chat with a friend about a vacation with dogs generates ads for vacations and dog-friendly hotels. An email test with a business card attachment generates ads about faxes.

    I’m sure the ads are generated by algorithms and no one sees one’s messages. And the revenue from those ads helps Google provide all the wondrous stuff it does.

    Just sayin, is all.

  72. Dr. Pax-ill says:

    Fr Z,
    You can’t go wrong with gmail. The anti-smap along is worth it. I have only found 1 erroneously classified mail after three years of using gmail. The one letter shortcuts are a big time saver as well (hit ‘c’ and a new message opens up). Addressing a message is a breeze since it starts to guess by either name or email account. Gmail is awesome!

  73. Gil Ferguson says:

    Despite all the above remarks, G-mail may be gov. monitored.

  74. Symeon says:

    When I got my first Gmail account, I kept my hotmail for a while “just in case I needed it”. After 6 months I realized I hadn’t used the hotmail account for anything except Messenger (for which you don’t actually need a hotmail) and receiving tons of spam. I trashed the hotmail account and have never missed it. The fact that you have to have a *microsoft* program to get your mail to read your messages via a 3rd party app is also a monopoly behavior that I just can’t stand. And, as has been said: name anything that hotmail’s got that Gmail doesn’t…

  75. Parvenu74 says:

    A couple counter-points to the anti-Gmail-ers out there:

    1. Email, by it’s very nature — non-encrypted plain text relay — is insecure. Google is no different in this regard.

    2. Why the concern that Google keeps your email even if you delete it from your box? So do Hotmail and Yahoo and every other free email provider (that’s part of how they make money: build a marketing profile on you and sell targeted ads… this isn’t rocket science).

    3. To say that “Gmail is spyware” demonstrates a gross conceptual misunderstanding of what spyware is. I think you meant to complain about Google wanting to index everyone’s data. Newsflash: “The Agency” already has full archives of all the email you’ve ever sent. Privacy was dead ten years ago… you only now noticed?

    Specifically in favor of Gmail:

    1. Labels are superior to folders: they are logical groupings as opposed to physical groupings. Emails frequently belong in multiple logical categories; this is easily accomplished with labels… much more cumbersome — if possible at all — with simple folders.

    2. NO GRAPHICAL ADS! This alone should make it the best free email service for all men. Who needs to be seeing mostly-undressed women in their browsers when they are checking their inbox? All the free email services build the marketing profiles and target ads… Google has the decency to stick to text-only ads.

    3. Flexibility. My gmail account received email forwarded from about a dozen domains, including my work email account, and allows me to respond to those emails with the correct email address for each domain. As also asked above, Gmail will auto-fetch email from other POP accounts I might have (they don’t auto-fetch IMAP accounts yet… I think). Bottom line: 20+ email accounts and one inbox to monitor them all.

    4. Storage space: my account is currently at 6300+ MB and counting… even with 20+ email account dumping into my Gmail account I am nowhere close to the limit.

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