What e-mail provider should I choose and why?

I am a user of GMail since the very beginning (2005?). I have lots of reference e-mail, including everything I’ve ever sent. Is this the best choice for me 2021? I am asking beacuse my ”mailbox is full” (or really GMail wants more money) so this is the perfect time to think about this matter. And there is the christmas holiday to tinker about everything.
(I am a Apple Fanboy… everything is Apple in my house, except an extra PC.
Today I am using Spark as my e-mail software of choice, but it’s important. I can use something else on my mac/iphone/iPad.

What are you using today and why. What’s the best with: Outlook/Live, ICloud, GMail or perhaps something else I have missed. How you changed e-mail provider lately?

I have been looking at Hey.com which looked promising until I found out I can’t bring my old email in (or can I?)

Looking forward to your replies.

Gmail is hard to replace (in my book) because their search functionality is very good, their reliability is very good, they are expandable, and their suite of apps (calendar, drive, etc) is excellent for what it is. I have been inclined to explore other options because of privacy wants and have made use of Protonmail with a lot of satisfaction. That being said, I use Protonmail as an alt account and had no need to port all of my existing email over (like you, I have been using gmail since 2005). Protonmail is still growing, so the “suite of apps” is still being developed. And you still have the “pay for drive space issue”. Upshot for Protonmail is their commitment to privacy and security - and they are based in Switzerland.


I signed up for Gmail the first week it was offered, and have used the same account since then. If I run out of space (still many years from now, fortunately), I would download the first 10 years or so of messages and delete them from Gmail. aa

Moving to a different email address, when it involves your primary email account, is such an extreme hassle that it’s not worth it.

aa Just search the web for how to do this.


How much of that email do you realistically still need?

15 year old emails rarely have massive value except in exceptional circumstances. I’d be tempted to search for email with large attachments over 5 years old and delete any you no longer need. This will buy you some space.


You may have an easier time recognizing/remembering/telling folks the email address Your.Name@gmail.com than you do with Your.Name@some.odd.serviceprovider.com. OTOH, I also have great respect for services that allow you to set up aliases (e.g. Your.Name.iOS@…, Your.Name.Primary@…, Your.Name.SPAM@…).


For a temporary solution, you can search to see what’s taking up all your space. It could be Google drive or photos. Under the advanced search for gmail is a file size filter. I found that photos and drive is what was using up a lot of my space

The two major reasons I stay with Gmail are search and spam identification.

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Does the email need to remain in gmail/online for search, or could you archive a chunk of it off on Mac? DEVONthink springs to mind as a great place to keep older email that is useful for reference (and it can import for you).


@Bernt_Mansson I echo @RosemaryOrchard’s recommendation. I’d find the emails I can safely archive and move them to DT or similar program for storage. I’d also review any emails over 10 years old and/or with large attachments and delete them rather than archive if you don’t need them.

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Like you I’m a long time gmail user, and I’ve used Apple mail since the Mac.com days. I’ve also used other services such as mail.com, yahoo.com, and still have a outlook.com address I use with MS365. Gmail was, is, and probably always will be my first choice. It has great performance, service side rules, and search.

As others have mentioned it’s probably your attachments and/or photos etc. taking up most of your room. A plain text email needs around 0.1 megabyte of storage so 1GB should hold around 10,000 messages without an attachment. Messages just don’t take up much room.

I would start by requesting a download of all my messages at takeout.google.com. Once you have that downloaded and backed up I would just remove the large attachments from your oldest messages.

An easy way to do that in Apple mail is to sort your messages oldest to newest, highlight those with large attachments, then select Messages / Remove Attachments.

Good luck


My standard recommendation: get your own domain and host your mail at Fastmail.

But maybe specific in your case: how much space do you currently use in Gmail?


Such a difficult thing to decide, I am a sap for holding on to emails for years since Gmail was first offered and just paying to increase.

Funny story: I was arranging a meeting when someone (born in the late 2000s) was arguing with me about the meeting time and how this event is always on ‘x day and x time’ for the last decade. I replied with ‘no, it hasn’t, before you were born, the meeting was on this day and gave them history on the meeting and event’. They argued up and down, left and right. Finally, because I archive everything related to things that I am a part of, I pulled up several early emails and clips of the newsletter to prove my point. :joy: To which the response I received when the person was cornered “well, you’re just from a different time period” :man_facepalming:

But to answer your question, search what’s important to you, label it, download, send to DevonThink. Consider getting G Suite perhaps forwarding messages to there?


I agree with @geoffaire regarding keeping old emails. I’ve long been an opponent of using email as a record keeping or filing system. Emails I need to keep like emailed receipts, I convert to PDF and save them in my filing system. I also don’t have to remember whether I stored something in email or scanned it in as they’re all in the same place. It also allows for more granular backups.

Before we retired my wife was an email administrator and had horror stories of people having huge email stores that got corrupted. Convinced me to keep my email cleaned out.

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agreed, that’s exactly what I have done. The bonus of using fastmail is the integration with 1password for masked email addresses

If you need to keep something, I prefer email as it’s easier to find with the great search, but many keep emails they don’t need. e.g. weekly reports. what are you going to do with that in 3 years, never mind 15.

I tag many work emails with a retention period (especially larger ones), e.g. 1 month, 3 months, 12 months, 3 years or 7 years and every month, I delete tagged emails which fall outside those periods. this keeps my email mailbox as small as possible.

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I agree with moving old emails off gmail. As mentioned somewhere else in this forum. Old email is better in a database such as Devonthink. I have 85k emails in devonthink. Search is excellent, I always find what I need. I keep no emails on servers. At the end of every week all my emails are deleted off all accounts. My last 2 years of emails are synced with Devonthink to go. At the start of every year I create a new database for that years email, makes it easy to archive and sync. Works really well and allows me to link to any email. It also means I don’t need to pay for any extra storage space. Plus with devonthink I can use smart folders to show any sort of criteria I need.


After leaving Gmail, I tried a variety of providers only to return after six months of searching for something as good.

First, I tried Apple, which I found lacking any type of automation (server-side). I did find the rules in the web interface, but it was too basic for my needs.

Then, I went to Exchange, which had all the features I could dream of (and arguably too many I didn’t need). I hated it as it didn’t send attachments that worked with my friends on Apple Mail, if I used Outlook which is the only way to get all the features, and I did not like Outlook.com at all (in the runnings for the most unintuitive web interface ever!).

I then tried Fastmail, which was the best of the ones I tried. However, I still didn’t like their web interface at all. I don’t know if it is because of years of using Gmail, but this felt like something from the 1990s. I lasted longest (three months) on this service than any, but I was not happy whenever I had to log in to configure anything.

Eventually, I moved back to Google Workspace and I’m not going to try moving my emails again. It has the most intuitive and modern web interface, unbeatable search, all the features I need, and it allows me to choose from more mail clients (as a lot are Gmail only, including the one I like most).

If you’re happy with Gmail, take this as a warning that you may waste a lot of time going down this rabbit hole!


It’s missing a few updates, but there’s a pretty useful chart for making this decision over here:

After reading this thread my approach/solution is a bit different. I have two personal Gmail accounts that I reserve exclusively as my “junk/vendor” email addresses. I give these email addresses to vendors (this was before “Hide My Email” was a feature") in Apple Mail. By forwarding and deleting any emails I want to archive between these two Gmail accounts and deleting all others, and having spam caught in Google’s excellent spam filter, I am not in danger of ever running out of email storage. I also create rules to forward personal emails from selected vendors/people to my personal Apple email address, which I reserve exclusively for personal email I want to archive. All work email is archived in the Google Workspaces account.

But, as I was writing this response, the thought occurred to me that because I have my work Gmail account running through Apple Mail that I’m using up a lot of iCloud storage with work emails–lots of attachments. I’m thinking that I should reserve my iCloud account exclusively for my personal emails. I just tested using the Share Extension in

I have a question.

If I remove my work email account from Apple Mail and use the Gmail Web interface on the Mac and perhaps the Gmail app on my mobile devices, will this remove all of the work Gmail emails from iCloud? This is desirable if I take this approach.

I’ll second the nomination to Fastmail. I just recently switched and really dig it. @RosemaryOrchard and I did a full episode of Automators on it a few months ago.


Protonmail; Security!

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