What convinced me to use desktop email client?
Before I start, just a little disclaimer to say that using a desktop email client or Web based services have their own pros and cons. However I am more inclined to use desktop email client for my communications mainly because it is more effective and practical. When I am out office, I am still reliant on using apps on my mobile devices to read and reply emails.
Since I am a frequent user of Gmail accounts and a converted user of Thunderbird, most of the references on this article will be made on both. Let me share with you the top 10 reasons that made me a user of desktop email client.
1. Slow down browsers
I have many email addresses from at least 5 different providers. As a fact, I do not login to all of them everyday since I auto-forward the emails to a few key email accounts. I work with at least 3 key email accounts daily, and in order to save time, I constantly had separate tabs opened in my Chrome browser for accessing them. But there is always a nagging thought to just use a desktop email client since having all these tabs opened just bring distractions and slow down the browsers unnecessarily.
2. A hassle when you need to deal with multiple accounts under the same email provider
However using tabs in a browser is practical only if your email accounts are under different providers. For example, you may own more than 1 Gmail account since you have separate email addresses for different purposes (e.g. gaming, work, personal, hobby, community). Now what if you want to remain login for 2 or more Gmail accounts; or check emails simultaneously on two accounts? Do you log out account#1, and login account#2? That’s going to be a hassle, isn’t it?
One of the most common workaround is to use different browsers (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc) if you want to stay login for multiple accounts with the same email service provider. But, that’s not really being effective.
3. I just cleared my cookies, and now I need to re-login again
This is not the biggest reasons that causes me to jump over to Thunderbird, but it just annoys me whenever I need to re-login an account. Ok, I admit I can be impatient at times :)
4. No Internet, too bad.
With web based services, if you do not have any Internet access, you can’t really work on your emails. One of the disadvantage is not being able to access your email archives, or use any features that requires an Internet connection. This is a pain point for those who travel frequently, and only able to get connectivity at intermittent times.
On the other hand, with desktop email clients, we can still compose our emails and have it automatically send out the moment we are connected to the Web. And if I have pockets of time, I can do a little organization and cleaning up of my emails. Personally I find this a productivity edge that a desktop email client has over web based services.
5. Limited storage with the email provider
With Google Gmail, although I am having 15 GB of available space, I am consistently utilizing over 85% because I handle attachments and photos very often. Yes, I can backup the attachments offline, and delete to free up space, but I’m doing it so regularly now, I thought the time could be spent better on something else.
With desktop email clients, the storage is dependent on the size of our hard disk (HDD).
6. Easy to backup and organize on my computer
Below is a screenshot taken from Thunderbird showing the database backups of my WordPress blogs. Some of these automated backup can be as frequent as per week, so you can figure how fast I before my online storage limit is maxed out.
Conducting a backup session is I can easily drag and drop these emails from Thunderbird to any folder on my computer. It really makes organizing data much more comfortable and user friendly.
7. Mail rules and filtering are not as powerful compared to desktop email clients
Web based emails services have decent rules and filters features, but it’s not powerful enough when you compared to desktop email application such as Thunderbird. The problem is very real when you have lots of email, say about 100k, and you want to do bulk delete certain email conversations, find obscure emails, or introduce structure/organization for your emailing needs.
8. Extensions and themes
In this section, desktop email clients win hands down. Thunderbird has a wide range of 3rd party extensions to add more functions, and many themes for you to choose from.
9. The ability to sort
This is a simple yet very important feature. Imagine the scenario when you communicate with John on a project, and with project there are lots of smaller tasks that need attention and action. So probably you get 30 emails daily (with different titles) from John and another 50 emails from other contacts. If the project with John is a priority, you probably will want to sort out his emails quickly so that you can reply and make further progress on your project. After all that is done, next you can probably reply to emails that are marked with priority.
Typically on most desktop email clients, you get to sort the list shown below.
I find it weird that some email providers like Gmail doesn’t offer it, and the only way to get around it is by searching and filtering what we want.
The ability to sort quickly is a huge time saver if you are using a desktop email client, since you can be more effective in getting a specific to-do, most important or urgent tasks resolved.
10. One common dashboard to manage them all
Probably the biggest difference between using web based and desktop email services is that the latter provides an unified user experience. With a desktop email client, you can view and engage in all email activities from one single dashboard/app, rather than over multiple places.
To be fair, web based email services are good in their own ways, probably even superior on certain features. Probably I will touch on them separately on another article, so keep a look out on that if you are interested. As of now, using a desktop email client just appeals to me, since it fits my (changed) working habits and meets my objectives.
If you are to choose between the two, which is your preferred and why?
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