Gmail in browser – or give Mail.app another chance on a M1?

Since moving over to my new MBP, I have yet to configure Mail.app with any of my accounts.

Mail.app has been terrible of late on my previous MBP – and am not convinced I need it on my new laptop.
Especially since I’ve moved from 1TB to 512GB. So space is at more of a premium – and I don’t want to be fighting with Mail’s backend for storage (a battle I will lose).

Regarding my usage of email – It occurred to me that I mostly keep track of what is coming in, via the iOS side of things.
Also, emails received via Gmail are “informational” 99% of the time, in that my work-related email comes in via Outlook.
Gmail is therefore personal, and includes bank statements, occasional communication from the kid’s school, monthly bills, newsletters etc – but very little I need to action. Occasionally, I get things over into DEVONthink (which is one of the few advantages of using Mail.app).

However, I have several Gmail accounts (for… reasons) – that have ballooned over the years. Another reason not to want any of this on the new laptop –– unless the alternatives below prove to be too cumbersome.

The short of this is I plan on continuing with using Mail on my phone/iPad (unless it would make sense to get the dedicated Gmail app for iOS?). And then – over on the Mac – Gmail in multiple windows/tabs inside a “dedicated” browser off to the side (like Brave?).

My challenge: Gmail online is a mess, on my side. I have tabs for “social” and “newsletter” that I must have switched on in the past (which sees Google dividing things up automatically into tabs), and don’t even begin to know how turn the feature off. And countless “smart” folders left over from my experiments with Spark, Airmail etc etc., and no doubt, Mail.app.

I’m hoping that someone can recommend resources that would explain how to “turn back time” in my Gmail accounts, and have everything simply revert to a stock/vanilla online? I’ve had a look on YT – but most are trying to give tips about wrangling things with the power-features of Gmail, which I don’t think I need. I don’t even know what to search for.

To be honest, I find the whole interface of Gmail to be pretty confusing – and I cannot really get it to do things I expect it to do. I’m sure it’s mostly as a result of my approaching it as I expect Mail.app and Outlook to work, and the different paradigm just has me confuddled. But goodness, it’s not clean (or simple) – at least as it looks for me at the moment, as it’s set up.

So here I am asking the MPU community for suggestions: Should I –

a.) Power on in wrangling Gmail through the browser – for my needs, it won’t take long to get comfortable, and is all I need?

Or…

b.) Consider having another shake at Mail.app – and trust that the new M1’s are going to have it behaving better (snappier) than before – and isn’t going to try and download the thousands and thousands of emails that I don’t need on device.

EDIT >>

OR… is it finally time to take the plunge and try Mailmate? Been looking at it for years, but it not supporting Outlook was a no-go… Outlook on Mac is good enough now. And I presume it plays well enough with Gmail (and iCloud?)?

I have used Gmail (via Google Workspace) together with Mail.app for years, mostly without issue, because I, too, find the Gmail interface confusing. You can turn off or hide most of the ridiculous prearranged mailboxes via settings; once you figure it out for one, you can just do the same thing for the rest. If you choose imap, the messages themselves aren’t downloaded, only the headers, but it will still take time. Although I have several accounts, I’ve only connected my “main” address to Mail.app.

1 Like

GMails browser interface is not that bad once you do what @jec0047 suggest and learn a couple of keyboard shortcuts and maybe create your own (I have “ñ” in the Spanish keyboard assigned to delete a message), you can fly through hundreds of messages in no time.

I have to say that Mailmate needs a lot of tuning to work with GMail labels (just see the user manual section, it is scary).

Better option is Mimestream, though it’s in beta is almost feature complete now.

1 Like

I have had very good luck using Apple mail with third-party mail providers and Gmail. As far as Gmail I created a bunch of labels/folders - including archive Legacy labels/folders and incoming rules that will put them in the proper labels/folders.

Then for me, the key was to go to settings and list all the labels and set the ones I wanted to see in Apple mail to = “show in imap” (looks like they changed the words to either “Show in label list” or “Show in message list”). All the others would not appear in Apple mail.

This way I was able to get just the more important Gmails to show up in apple mail and the rest would be available through the browser.

2 Likes

Another vote for Mimestream - it’s a great Mac mail client for those who use gmail. I don’t ever use Mail on my Mac now that I have Mimestream.

2 Likes

So glad I never gravitated toward Gmail. My only experience with it is trying to help my aged Dad with his Gmail account. It has been a real mess. I think in terms of a folder being the home of a mail message, but Gmail has labels pretending to be folders with messages appearing in several places! And my Dad is overwhelmed with spam and promotional emails and all of the other places that his mail messages can lurk. We finally got him squared away, for a little while at least, by means of mass deletions. I wouldn’t wish Gmail on anyone. But he liked it because it was free. :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

My understanding is that this will eventually go subscription, correct?

Did not know about this as a feature, being able to limit what would be pulled down into Mail.app – and looks to be pretty much what could solve some concerns I have about installing/setting up Mail again. Thank you – will look into this.

THANK YOU! I just cannot get my head around its approach through “labels” – and I’m an avid tagger! To be fair, I haven’t sunk nearly enough time into it settings – so might have to that route to give it a fair shake.

Yes – think it’s clear I have to spend a bit more time in Gmail. Will have a look around on YT for some guidance, and hopefully find a basic set-up guide.

Thank you for the heads-up. Don’t want to add more complexity! I have found what appears to be an excellent playlist from an avid Mailmate user – and will have a watch when I have the time, before taking the plunge (if at all).

I’m a fan of Mimestream as well. Even though it’s still in beta, I’ve found it to be polished and reliable.

I recommend checking out the Pricing section of Mimestream’s FAQ.

1 Like

Mimestream is very good IMO. Best app for Gmail I’ve tried and I’ve tried a lot.

2 Likes

I think mail.app on Mac and IOS is a decent, no frills, email client. I’d give it 5 on a 10 point scale, mainly for reliability. I’ve looked at mimestream but it doesn’t work for me without my calendar.

Gmail in Chrome is my Mac email client. I use Safari for everything else (that runs reliably) in Safari. I have multiple other accounts but everything forwards to my Google Workspace account. I use Gmail.app on my iPhone and iPP. I setup mail.app on Mac and IOS as a backup.

As has been mentioned, take a look at Settings/Inbox and Settings/Labels. I had added a couple of labels to identify messages sent to my multiple accounts. But I recently removed all but the original labels.

IMO, gmail is designed for the browser. All your rules and settings are there and you get full benefit of Google security features. On IOS Gmail.app has excellent search, mail.app doesn’t.

labels are (typo fix) the gmail version of “folders or tags”

Another vote for Mimestream here. It’s actually one reason why I am not about to ditch Gmail as I get evicted (on grounds of cost) from Google Workspace. The developer is very responsive and has been adding features and fixing issues at a feverish pace. It is also one of the (apparently few) apps that has my make-or-break setting — when I close/archive/delete an email I do not want to see another email automatically.

If you had gravitated to Gmail you’d not have this problem now. :grin: Labels are just tags/keywords like we find in so many other apps these days.

The biggest (I would argue only) problem with Gmail labels is they are not within the email standards. Other than that I find them vastly superior to folders because of the simple fact they can be used as folders or tags. Gmail’s interface even provides for these alternatives by providing a “move to label” which mirrors folder use. It comes unstuck a little when you use traditional mail clients that only understand folders.

The thing about folders is I have spent much of my life watching people using them in situations where tags are the better solution. I particularly remember one of my bosses who had a good selection of folders and could almost never find the email he wanted in the first folder he looked in. It often took him three or more before he’d find it. Had he used labels (Outlook categories in this case), he would have found it in the first place he looked.

These days I only have a handful of labels and while I’m staring down the barrel of migrating 16 years of emails, and possibly losing those associations, I realise I don’t even really need those. Because if I want to find a software license email from Vendor A, there’s not much value in having it marked/stored as “Vendors” or “Software” if I can just search for “Vendor A license”.

1 Like

Came back over to say just this…their Pricing section specifies it will cost money eventually (who can blame them?), but they have not landed on a model as of yet.

Of a certainty…I would not have had a problem, having been involved with computers one way or another from high school through retirement, but I was talking about my Dad. I choose not to use Gmail because of the terms under which it is offered by Google. But my Dad, who pays his bills online, orders enthusiastically from outfits like Amazon, and plays his music and reads his newspaper on his iMac, is willing to go only so far in learning about computers. And Gmail, it turns out for him, is a bridge too far.

I’ve found that to be quite common. One of my users had over 250 folders in her account and she would occasionally ask for help finding a message. I’d ask a couple of questions, show her how to use search (again), and locate the message for her. I always wondered how many days a year she spend just looking for emails.

I’d also recommend at least trying Mimestream in this situation. The big thing it gets right, vs. Mail, is the search is Gmail good (subject lines or local contacts + results straight from the API) but in a light Mac app. If its pricing scheme ends up being unpalatable, switching takes effectively no time.

(I’m predicting $60 for a year of updates. I’d pay it.)

I have always hated Mail.app with a passion, it really doesn’t float my boat. Maybe why I have always LOVED GMail, and esp. the web interface. Granted, I have been on there for 20 years or something, but I very rarely get any spam. Rather, I need to go into my spam folder and pick things OUT that I have actually signed up for and am following, as the spam filter can be a bit too eager sometimes.

The newer tabs with “Update” and “Campagins” are useful to me, as they keep subscription type of emails out of my Primary tab. Sure, over the years I have had my share of different tagging schemes, but I always just search for stuff when I need it anyway, pops right up.

Keyboard shortcuts are neat too, in the web interface. Lastly, it takes up zero storage on my devices.

2 Likes

And search capabilities are awesome.

2 Likes

This is the main thing that keeps making Gmail in the browser so compelling.

That said, based on the responses here – downloaded Mimestream and activated one of my accounts. Must confess that it most likely will do what it needs to do, as a Mail.app replacement – barring the letter’s integration with DEVONthink via AppleScript…

But the lack of email data on my smaller capacity is so tempting… I know I really shouldn’t be dwelling on this as much as I seemingly have been, but email (as evidenced by all the threads on MPU on this very topic) remains a significant component of my everyday life – so want to get this squared away before going to far down whichever path I choose…