So you are happily working away in Outlook when your company suddenly decides to switch over to Google Apps? Gmail seems alien and sparse compared to the many buttoned complexity of Outlook which you had (kinda) got your head around.
Don’t worry! The strength of Gmail is its simplicity alongside the many powerful extensions which allow you to mold your email client into the beast you want it to be, not the beast that Microsoft decided you needed. Sure, Outlook has extensions too, but be prepared for a whole new level of quality and variety when you hit the Chrome Webstore.
Gmail vs Outlook: The Inbuilt Good Bits
- Drafts save automatically as you write and you can undo-send in the first 10 seconds after sending an email – both features which save a huge amount of time-draining and reputation-threatening mistakes.
- Gmail’s version of folders (“labels”) mean you can assign one email to several folders by just adding several labels – useful if you have an email that spans several topics and you want to be able to find it again easily when a search doesn’t work.
- Default category tabs like Social and Promotions immediately filter away almost all your spam and low priority email but still allow them to be easily accessed if you want.
- Your new, slimmed down Primary Inbox should be much easier to keep clear and under control.
- You can archive everything important instead of deleting it to keep your Primary Inbox clear. Personal accounts get 15GB and business domains 30GB which should mean you never need to delete anything – just watch out for those emails with large attachments.
- You can transition your Outlook 'rules' to Gmail 'filters' using this opensource tool.
Some great extensions to replace missing functionality:
Missing desktop notifications? Checker Plus is free and highly customizable. It can even tell you about new emails you’ve received without having Gmail open at all.
No multiple signatures? Don’t worry! There is a simple extension built by the Gmail team themselves called Canned Responses that has you covered. You can also use it for quick access to any stock emails you send.
Your flagged emails are now starred but where have your deadlines gone? There are no deadlines in Gmail so you need to use an extension like ActiveInbox which allows you to schedule emails to reappear in a ‘tasks for today’ section above your inbox when you need them to. You can then also keep track of all your tasks from your Google Calendar as ActiveInbox automatically syncs with it.
No Delivery Receipts to ensure an email arrives? Well there are many Gmail extensions which give you read receipts which are probably even more useful. Our favourite is Sidekick by Hubspot. No read reciepts are entirely accurate but it is still a handy feature.
No sorting your emails by date or sender? ActiveInbox is the only extension for Gmail that allows you to sort emails to your heart’s content.
Loved using Outlooks’ comprehensive task manager? Gmail’s inbuilt task feature is almost universally reviled as clunky and very limited. You’ll want to try out ActiveInbox which is the only fully flexible solution to turn Gmail into a fully-fledged email based task manager in its own right.
No more Outlook categories? ActiveInbox allows you to quickly add statuses and create your own ones which are probably the closest you’ll come to categories, depending on what categories you use. We start you off with two simple Action and Waiting On statuses which will help you get work done. You can use these alongside project labels for categories that are more like folders, or you can add your own statuses such as ‘Someday’, ‘Next’, ‘Waiting On Client’, ‘Waiting On Colleague’. They appear as buttons, so it is best to keep them short though.
Missing Outlook Social Connector add-in that automatically shows you the linkedin info of new contacts? Gmail has a load of similar extensions which are ofen even more reliable and accurate that Microsoft’s version. The best of the bunch in our experience is Vibe or the old favorite Rapportive.