One (well, two actually) of my office-mates are Apple fanboys. He’s not a tech-geek who obsesses over the latest and greatest devices and systems, he’s just mis-informed. Recently, he ranted and raved about the fact that he’s receiving two of the same emails to his iPhone. He’s integrating and using Gmail to manage his messages and calendaring, but the way that his iPhone is setup, he’s getting double the email.
My first initial though was to retort, “should have got an Android phone,” but I refrained. Instead, I explained email forwarding (he’s hosting email from a non-Google account), and management of the account with Gmail’s settings.
In the past, I’ve discussed additional email accounts, email signatures, Google Apps, and even separate Google accounts, but I don’t think I’ve actually talked Gmail (I got close with this post). So, since that’s an essential component of any Android attorney’s arsenal, I thought I would spend a minute to highlight some of the features that make Gmail a “cool app to use.” If you’re interested in viewing a beginners tutorial on Gmail, here’s a pretty good one:
The first thing to know about Gmail is that
you don’t talk about Gmail it’s available to use whenever and wherever you have internet access. The second, and perhaps most important part about using Gmail is that it’s smart.
By smart I mean the Gmail servers handle spam, IMAP settings, and just about everything else better than your own ISP’s. In my opinion, aside from using Microsoft Exchange to manage your email, Gmail is the way to go. Gmail is fast, easy, and most importantly, syncs seamlessly with my Android devices. If my colleague were pushing (which I’ll discuss in a bit) all of his email accounts to Gmail, and doing it correctly, then there’s no reason he would have two of the same messages on his phone (except for the fact he’s using the wrong phone).
One of the most under-utilized Gmail tools are rules, or as Gmail calls them, “filters” (get the “how-to” here). Setting rules give you the ability filter and direct the email messages to go to certain folders, flag particular messages for importance, or respond in particular ways. If you’re a Microsoft Outlook user, you can set rules in similar ways. I set filters to handle email in a variety of ways. For listservs that I subscribe to, I create a filter to automatically move the message to a particular sub-folder I create for that particular listserve.
For instance, I am a member of the Solosez listserv, sponsored by the ABA. On this listserv, there are easily 100 message received per day. Since I’m not too keen on cluttering my inbox with that many messages, I created a filter in Gmail that will automatically push all messages with the Solosez domain name to a folder in my Gmail box. I can, at my leisure, view, delete, respond, or save the message without significant effects on my inbox.
The next great Gmail feature are labels. Labels help associate messages with substantial events, particular clients, or in my case above, a certain category of similarly associated email messages. Multiple labels can be attached to a single message. Therefore, you can have one message labeled “Solosez,” and the same message labeled “Personal Injury” or in some other meaningful way. The possibilities for labels are endless.
I’m a big fan of using Outlook to manage email. I am a heavy Outlook user because of its integration with my practice management software, and because my familiarity with the Outlook system. Google Apps accounts can sync to Outlook (Windows only) using Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. The free program will set up Gmail’s IMAP features on your desktop, and transfer your contacts, calendar, and email between your Google Apps account and your local machine. It’s easy to keep perfect order then among my Android tablet, Android phone, Google Apps account, Outlook and practice management systems.
One thing I should mention for this system to work seamlessly: you need to make sure IMAP is enabled in Gmail. IMAP, if you don’t know, allows your devices to communicate in real time and synchronize the systems. That means the email messages, calendar events, and contacts on your phone, deleted or saved, are the same on your tablet, Gmail account, and desktop machine. To enable IMAP in Gmail click the gear icon () in the right corner > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Enable IMAP under IMAP Access. If you want immediate or “real time” updates, click Auto-Expunge on.
Now that your Gmail system is set, you’ll want to make sure that you’re forwarding all of your email from your email host’s web servers to Gmail. Each ISP is different, so you’ll probably want to spend some time on the phone with tech support, getting the settings right. Generally though, most ISP webmail forwarding settings can be found under a “forwarding” tab. At any rate, use the search box to find “email forwarding.” Enter your Gmail (or Google Apps) email as the forwarding address, then get your wife or a colleague to send a test. With all the right stuff, and a little luck, Gmail is handling all of your messages.
Gmail really is a lawyer’s best friend, especially if you’re a lawyer using Android.