Making the Move from Outlook to Gmail

By Woody Leonhard

Why should you consider using Gmail instead of Outlook or some other solution? For starters, Gmail’s spam filtering is second to none. Its interface is also remarkably easy to use. Where searching Outlook mail often takes three or four minutes if you have a lot of messages, with Gmail, it takes place almost instantaneously. And there are some features — most notably, the ability to sort mail into Important and All Other buckets — that can save you time every day.

Yes, there are arguments against Gmail:

  • Google scans the content of e-mail sent or received to better serve up ads, as Microsoft helpfully points out in its Scroogled ad campaign. That’s true, but Microsoft’s scans To and From and Subject lines for precisely the same kind of information. Every online mail program scans every piece of mail for viruses and spam. More than that, just about anybody with enough motive (or a big enough organization) can scan your e-mail any time they want. The solution, of course, is to encrypt anything that’s sensitive, or move to an e-mail provider that scrambles everything on the wires — if there are any of those companies left after the latest NSA scandals. (Pro Tip: Google lavabit.)

  • Gmail isn’t accessible if you can’t connect to the Internet. That’s true, unless you use the Gmail offline extension that only works in the Google Chrome browser.

  • Google charges for storage. You get 15 GB of storage free, which is more than enough unless you are a very heavy email user. The trick lies in being selective in which messages you archive for later retrieval. With Outlook, you tend to save everything forever – that’s how you end up with outlook.pst files that run 5, 10, or more GB. With Gmail, it’s much easier to control your storage.

You’ll probably find that those problems pale in comparison to the problems associated with Outlook, or the Metro Mail app, Windows Live Mail, Outlook Express, or just about any other mail program you could mention.

Is Gmail better than Good question, and it boils down to a matter of taste. Sign up for both, give them both a good workout, and see what you think.