Like many a new christmas toy, my Google mail account was something I coveted – that is, until I finally got what I wanted. Then it went largely ignored. I had wanted to check out Gmail for a while, but the beta version of Google’s free Web e-mail client is only available by invite. So when my cousin in India e-mailed me an invite to get an account, I jumped at the chance. Finally, here was my opportunity to ditch Microsoft’s Hotmail forever. I signed up right away, and I was happy with what I got. It’s too bad I won’t be using it much.
Gmail has much to offer. I love the way e-mails are organized into threads rather than in chronological order of receipt. All of the e-mails I send and receive in one conversation are there in a tidy package, available at a click. I can even name threads or put a star beside them to make them easier to find. When someone sends me an e-mail in a particular thread, it’s moved to the top and highlighted.
And, as you would imagine, the search engine can get quite granular. You can search for e-mails containing certain words, but excluding others. You can narrow the search by date, folder and field. You can search for e-mails with an attachment. Hotmail, by contrast, only lets you determine which folder and field you want to do a word search in.
And unlike my Hotmail account, which is nothing more than a badly-designed spam repository, my Gmail account is not yet inundated by spam (though perhaps this is only a matter of time). With Hotmail, I continue to get messages from one organization even after I’ve repeatedly reported it as spam.
My Hotmail account just offers me one headache after another – I can never sign out of it properly and even after clicking on and reading e-mails, they sometimes remain marked as unread.
So, you ask, if I’m that fond of Gmail, why won’t I be using it that often?
Because it’s now just one more thing to manage. I already have my work account, my Rogers account and my Hotmail account. I feel compelled to check the first two on a regular basis throughout the day and to ignore the latter (much to the frustration of those who still contact me at that account). I don’t want to be a slave to yet another e-mail account or suffer the guilt of ignoring it.
And judging from the response I got when I was finally given the power to invite other people to join up for Gmail, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve sent out ten invites so far, and of those, only one person has actually signed up for an account. But as soon as she signed up, my friend asked me to continue e-mailing her at her Hotmail account as she doesn’t want to have to start checking her Gmail on a regular basis. Another friend tried to sign up, but was foiled by her work filter.
And now that Rogers has upped my Web mail account to 2GB, I no longer need a third-party Web mail provider as much as I once did.
I’ll happily drop Hotmail for Gmail, for those times when I don’t want to use an official e-mail address for one reason or another, or when I want to make sure a certain e-mail is always handy to me wherever I am (since my Rogers e-mails all eventually wind up on my home computer) and because it seems not all spam filters like Rogers.
My Gmail will still come in handy once in a while, but unfortunately it’s too late for Gmail to be anything more than that.