Working With Gmail

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/IMAPEnable 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.

5 Responses to Working With Gmail

  1. The google apps sync for Outlook requires a paid Google Apps account, if I remember right, and its laggyness (is that a word?) drives me nuts. I have been migrating my clients to Microsoft Hosted Exchange. For less than Google Apps, you can get full exchange functionality without the headache of trying to setup an exchange server. No add-on apps are required to work with Outlook. It will also work with the Mac version of Outlook (the google app sync does not work with Mac).

    • Danny, that’s a good point. I haven’t noticed a lag, if anything. I do like the hosting, but when I did calculations and comparisons, I could get Google Apps for less than a hosted plan. As for the add-on not working with Mac, remember, this is a Droid site, Apple be banned. My biggest issue is syncing with my practice management software, and not Outlook to Google.

      • My point is that if you are an Outlook user (Windows or Mac), and you want to sync a Droid with Outlook, then Microsoft Hosted Exchange works better, and the basic plan is cheaper than Google Apps ($4.95 per mailbox per month).

        If outlook is not part of the equation, then whatever works. I use both Office 365 and Google Apps. It used to be that hosted exchange was $10 to $15 a month per email box, but recently became much cheaper.

        • I disagree that hosted works better than Google if you’re trying to sync to Outlook. I think if you’re using it on Mac, obviously (no Mac interface). I use Google Apps and Outlook and don’t have any problems. We have 3 accounts syncing. There are two frustrating aspects, no tasks or notes sync, but I don’t use those Outlook features anyway (I make all tasks appointments – all day or 15 minutes), so that’s not an issue.

          I think the ultimate consideration is what the end-user wants to achieve. I think that with MS providing Office and Hosted Exchange at reasonable prices, we’re going to see a significant move in that direction, and away from Google. Good move for MS, bad move for Google, especially with it’s less-than-adequate replacement, Google Drive.

          Thanks for the comments, BTW.

          • Well, that is why I mentioned “full exchange functionality.” If you don’t need/want all outlook features, then go with Google, that is, if you want to spend more. 😉

            What I don’t like about Google is basically the Google Apps Connector. Google has Activesync emulation setup, it’s how iphones/ipads connect to Google Apps (I don’t own them, I’m a nexus 7 user, but I have to configure them for others). But, Google won’t let Outlook connect natively using the same activesync functionality, they require that you pay to use the sync app.

            The sync app is laggy, it takes time to update big folders. For example, I get thousands of spam emails. I right click and clear out the folder in Outlook, it takes a good 5 minutes. A day or two later, I do it again. If I could just block that folder from syncing, I would have no complaints. Using Outlook with hosted exchange, on the other hand, is much faster to do the same thing.

            On a side note, the default Mac email client will connect to Google Apps using Activesync (you set it up as an exchange account), but for some reason, Google won’t let the Mac version of Outlook connect using Activesync.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.