Will MobileMe Make Me Leave Google’s Gmail and Calendar?

Since Steve Jobs’ keynote at the WWDC in June, I have been waiting patiently (well, quite impatiently) for the new and improved .Mac which has been rebranded as MobileMe. Based on the keynote and guided tour, MobileMe finally looks like the mail, address book, and calendar applications I expected from Apple when they launch iTools and .Mac so many years ago. As a user of many devices and computers on a daily basis, I have always struggled with keeping everything synchronized. Perhaps MobileMe will finally provide the solution for which I have been looking.

My big question now is, will MobileMe provide enough functionality to convince me to move all of my email, contacts, and calendars from Gmail and Google Calendar to the MobileMe platform? This will be no small feat considering how long I have been using both of those Google applications. The one big plus for me will be the ability to use desktop applications on my Mac and Windows machines. Right now, I can use Gmail on the desktop using IMAP, but having to move messages from one label to another can become annoying and cumbersome. Google also has sync applications for Google Calendar that can sync with Outlook, but I have found the functionality to be buggy at best. To me, neither of these solutions is good enough, and they tend to take away from my productivity and enjoyment of the applications.

If MobileMe can truly deliver on its promise of providing a consistent user experience on my Mac using its built in Mail, Address Book, and iCal applications, my Windows machine using Outlook, and the Internet, I will be a very happy camper. My guess is a lot of other people will feel the exact same way. We’ll know any day now if MobileMe is really Exchange for the rest of us.


Using Gmail to Backup Files Online

Google GmailFor those of you who are not familiar with Gmail, you soon will be. Gmail is Google’s free email service, and it is one of many excellent services that Google provides. Most of the people I know already use Gmail as their main email service, and I suspect that many more will soon join the ranks of devoted Gmail users.

Google has always offered a tremendous amount of free storage space with each Gmail account, and with competition from Yahoo and Microsoft, they continue to add space to each account for free. Right now, I have 6,290 MB of space. That’s over 6 GB of storage space for free!

The catalyst for this post is my wife’s less than a year old Dell laptop. Sadly, the hard drive in that machine is beginning to show the telltale signs of failure. You know the ones – the terrible scratching sounds, the no drive detected errors, etc. Needless to say, we have been scrambling to find good ways to make sure her important business files are safe and sound. The first thing we did was save the files off to a USB flash drive. This is a good short term solution, but flash drives are easily lost. We have also started to use Google Docs more so local storage is becoming less of an issue.

Then something came to me. Why not use the 6+ GB of storage I have with Gmail to store my important files on Google’s servers? Using Labels in Gmail makes organizing all of your files insanely easy, and of course, Gmail comes with the power of Google’s search if you ever need to find a specific file. Follow these easy steps to save your important files in your Gmail account.

1. From your Gmail Inbox, click the More Actions drop down box and select New Label.
2. Enter a name for your new label like “Documents” or “Files.” This will help you find your files later.
1. Compose a new message and enter your Gmail address in the To field.
2. For the message Subject, use the name of the file you are sending to Gmail.
3. In the message Body, enter keywords or phrases that will help you find the file in the future.
4. Attach the file to the message.
5. Send the message.
6. The new message will appear in your Inbox.
7. Select the message by clicking the checkbox next to the message.
8. Click the More Actions drop down box and select the Label you chose for your documents.
9. Click the Archive button to remove the message from your Inbox.

Your file is now saved on Google’s servers. In order to access your files in the future, simply select the Label you chose for your documents. Labels are usually displayed under the Chat window on the left side of the page. Clicking on a Label will show all of the messages with that label so you will be able to see all of the messages you have saved with your important files. You can also use the search feature in Gmail to find a specific file. This is why using descriptive file names and adding good keywords is very important.

I hope this helps you get more out of your Gmail account and avoid the problems of a hard drive failure.


Still No IMAP Love!

Google GmailLast Wednesday, Google announced the long awaited availability of IMAP for Gmail. Gmail has had POP access for quite some time, but POP just doesn’t cut it when you want to access your email from more than one device.

Now, I know some of you are thinking I should just access Gmail over the web, and you would have a pretty good point, but what happens when I’m 35,000 feet in the air or some other place where there is no Wi-Fi or cellular system? I want to use Apple’s Mail application with Gmail. I want to use Outlook with Gmail. I want to use my BlackBerry’s message application with Gmail. Basically, I want IMAP for my Gmail account. It’s been five days since the announcement, and I’m still waiting. Come on Google, hook me up.