When you look at the bottom of your GMail window, you'll notice links in the footer, cycling through more or less helpful tips as well as Google advertisements.

For years now, one of these links has been to the GMail Notifier for Mac:

Sadly though, this link to http://mail.google.com/mail/help/notifier/index.html (forwards to http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper) has, also for a long, long time now, been a not found error. As you can't open a bug report with Google, I've emailed the GMail service people about this before, but I guess dead links in production software are not on top of their todo list.

Ah well, maybe they google for "Gmail fail" sometimes and find the bug report this way ;)

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Just recently I ranted about how bad it is that GMail auto-adds every possible email address it can get its hands on to your contacts, making them utterly cluttered with the most random people on the planet, including "remove me from this mailinglist" addresses and others you never want to see again.

It seems as if Google heard me (and many others): They now introduced a new section "suggested contacts" that they dump everybody and their brother's email address into, but the people you actually want to have as contacts stay in an also newly created "My Contacts" folder.

This gives you the convenience of still adding people you email to the auto-complete feature (which, in and by itself is not so bad), while not hopelessly cluttering your contacts. Exactly what I want!

Well, thank you, Google. Read more about it on the GMail blog.

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Dear GMail,

I would like you to know that it really really sucks how you add everybody to my address book who I only sent one mail to, ever. That clogs the address book and depending on what kind of message it was, after just about 30 seconds I neither care nor remember what I wrote them an email about once in my lifetime.

Imagine me writing an email to some company's customer service. I get an answer from a representative asking me to provide some more information. I reply and attach the needed infos. You helpfully add this person to my address book so I can remember every customer service representative that I ever had to deal with, just in case I ever need to email them personally again. Thank you so much!

Let alone all these random people on craigslist who use a gmail address who you add to my instant messenger automatically, so they can start chatting with me or at the very least see me being online for the next 25 years.

A one-click option to add somebody to your address book is a great idea. Automatically adding everybody to my address bucket (that mess is not a book anymore) however is a bad idea.

Just sayin'...

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Oh thank heaven for the beauty of context-sensitive advertising.

As most people on the Mozilla project, I get quite a bit of bugmail from bugzilla. Needless to say, Google mail tries to adapt to this situation by delivering me the ads that they believe are the most appropriate for the mail I am currently looking at:

"Will you be reincarnated as a bug?"

Well, I hope not! What if they resolve me INVALID?

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Rumor has just recently hit the blogosphere that Google's GMail was to introduce clickable and colored tags for emails. Today apparently my account was added to the test group (or was it generally released? I don't know).

I think I like the feature, since it has also become a one-click operation now to remove a tag from a mail; a feature that comes in very handy when you accidentally mis-tag a mail and want to fix it quickly:

GMail: Clickable Tags

That being said, now Google only has to come up with a faster way to actually assign tags to emails. For me, neither the dropdown list in the single mail view nor checking a bunch of mails and then using the dropdown list in the mail list view are particularly appealing ways of categorizing emails. While it is not too tedious or unbearable, there may be quicker ways to achieve this. One idea would be suggesting a handful of existing tags in the mail view (addable with one click), judging by the similarity of the current mail to the ones that you have previously tagged with a particular tag. This would have the charm of being both fast for the user and also suggesting classification of emails into categories, even from people who have never sent you a mail before and before you have even thought about making a filter rule to auto-tag similar emails. (And I just made this up off the top of my head, so please feel free to yell at me in the comments if you dislike my suggestion).

By the way, the CSS for the tags seems to render them too low (see the screenshot), with the Firefox 3 nightlies. I wonder if this is a Firefox rendering issue or a bug in the CSS Google uses.

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The recently introduced IMAP feature of Google's GMail seems to get increasingly more popular.

Still, in order to make popular email clients play well with GMail, they need some tweaking. Most notably, the default "Trash" folder assumed by most email clients will just create a GMail tag named [Imap]/Trash instead of actually putting the email into GMail's trash folder.

Though, the good news is, help is near! Lifehacker has an excellent tutorial on tweaks you can apply to Thunderbird in order to solve this and other problems and make the most out of the Thunderbird+GMail combination.

For the passionate Mac users, Jean Pierre describes how to choose the GMail Trash folder in Apple Mail.

On a side note, choosing a special Trash folder is slightly complicated in Thunderbird (editing about:config is pretty advanced, I'd say). Unfortunately, this contradicts the recommendations on IMAP4 implementation (RFC 2683), section 3.4.8 ("Creating Special-Use Mailboxes"), where it says:

In addition, the client developer should provide a convenient way for the user to select the names for any special-use mailboxes, allowing the user to make these names the same in all clients used and to put them where the user wants them.

For "Sent", "Drafts" and "Templates", this is indeed already very conveniently handled in the account settings dialog, yet for the Trash we need to edit special preferences, which is slightly confusing.

Interestingly, there is already a bug on this (and has been for a while). The good news is: According to one of the comments, this is fixed in the trunk, so we can hope to get this feature with the next major release of Thunderbird. :)

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GMailOh, how long have I waited for this! Almost three years ago, I blogged about the then newly-introduced POP access for GMail (German) and, to summarize it for you, my conclusion was that POP does not sufficiently support GMail's specialities, in particular the big storage capacity (downloading tons of mail is no fun) and tagging (which could easily be replicated in IMAP folders).

Now, three years later, GMail implements IMAP and with that, in my opinion, GMail has become a global player in email that now actually deserves the name.

IMAP features are mapped to GMail features reasonably, for example tags to folders as I suggested, or IMAP flags to GMail "stars".

To test, I connected to my account with Thunderbird, and as far as I can tell now, it works nice and quickly. Good job, Google!

According to Jean Pierre, IMAP is not enabled for all users yet, but I assume everybody will get the feature soon. Once you do, make sure to check it out!

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