I’ve been using GMail for a while, and with the combination of the new feature where GMail allows changing the from address setting and the relaunch of my personal blog, decided use some of my invites to create multiple accounts for myself to manage email.
Creating seperate GMail accounts took a few minutes, and reconfiguring all my email to forward all email to these new accounts instead of a pop3 box was also a painless task thanks to the brilliant CPanel utility my hosting provider is using.
Until now, Google’s standard GMail notifier has been working fine, though it’s only designed to work with one account, and there doesn’t appear to be any movement on adding multiple account support anytime soon.
There are a few options out there:
I’m using PopTray for checking various other pop3 accounts, and this is freeware gold. A massive thumbs up to Renier Crause for creating such a fantastic utility and releasing it as freeware. Having tried lots of various pop3 checker utilities over the years, when I found PopTray over 2 years ago, my search came to an end, and I’ve been a satisfied user ever since. However, the Gmail plugin is a little flaky, and doesn’t work so well.
Only found out about Pop Peeper recently, and after reading through the help online, it seems to have some trouble with checking GMail. After my experience with managing GMail via pop3 with Poptray, this is an awkward route, and not an ideal solution, resulting in my decision to not waste time trying this one.
Along the same lines, I’ve had very brief periods of trying to use Outlook and Eudora to manage my Gmail accounts via pop3, and found the whole thing awkward. Although this would probably work well for people who want to download their email into an email client, I’m happy, and prefer to keep my mail on the server so that it can be accessed from multiple PC’s, mobile phone, etc.
Another option I only found recently was notifier2, which looks promising. There’s a trial version available, which is limited to 4 accounts and checking at 15 minute intervals, and a licence is only $10. It does a lot more than just check GMail, including checking things like Sitemeter, Adsense, etc. But, it lasted all of five minutes on my system, as it’s not really geared around Gmail, doesn’t allow easy logging into multiple accounts, and doesn’t appear to have a decent notification system for new messages.
Some time ago, I tried ePrompter, which I think is one of the worst designed, most amateur looking applications I’ve used. It appears to have some nice functionality, but can do with heavy improvement to its interface. The layout, colours and fonts are sickly, and using this on a daily basis would make nauseous. Look at the screenshots below:
It would make sense for the author of this application to spend a couple hundred dollars to get a designer improve this interface, remove that terrible Tell your friends about ePrompter text, and release this as shareware. At least it wont make its users sick. As things stand, I’m not going anywhere near this ever again.
That leave the final system tray application, which is also the one which clearly stood apart from its competition, GAlert. The developers tout this as a better Google notifier, with support for both email and news, multiple accounts, skinning, etc. It seemed to work well enough, and after spending a few hours knocking up a custom skin to my liking, bought a licence. Not much at $13.50 for a single PC.
Although it’s a decent and robust application, after some days use, I’ve realised that it has a few annoying quirks. The context menu lists new mail in accounts, but to my annoyance, clicking on them doesn’t always launch my browser with the correct account (Update: clearing the cookie cache in Internet Explorer seems to solve this problem). Overall, it needs some polishing up, though it serves my basic needs. Accounts get checked at 5 minute intervals, and a nice little alert pops up in the corner of my screen with the sender, subject, summary, and time of the message.
Combined with the GMail Manager extension for Firefox, it’s actually relatively easy to keep track of multiple accounts. This extension adds a small unobtrusive icon to your status bar, and makes actually logging into the different accounts painless, with just three clicks (right-click, choose account, left click on icon). If GAlert worked in the same way, it would be perfect.
There’s still a market for a product that can do this though… ideally, something combining the best features of Notify2, GAlert, and Gmail Manager. I’d happily pay upto a decent product that checked and gave easy access to all my GMail accounts, decent new email notification, showed my Google Adsense, and had an intuitive interface. With Google Calendar out now as well, and the API in the pipeline, it would be good to see a windows app integrating with this too.
For now, I’m sticking with GAlert to check email, and GMail Manager to log in to each individual account. Works for me
[tags]google, gmail, email, multiple accounts, gmail notifier, galert, gmail manager, notify2, eprompter, pop peeper, poptray, pop3, google calendar[/tags]