Lots of people use Gmail.
Whether you’re a designer, a programmer, or just someone whose company has the wherewithal to use Google Apps, there’s a good chance you have a Gmail account.
And if you use an Android smartphone, you definitely have one.
For those of us who use Gmail as a full-time, workhorse email client, the lure of a desktop email application can be strong – especially for anyone coming from a professional environment where everyone uses Microsoft Outlook.
If you’re not sure a Gmail desktop app is worth your while, consider the following list of pros and cons. First, let’s look at why you might prefer an app:
1. Easy account switching
My Gmail app lets me switch between email accounts in a snap. This is especially useful for those of us who would otherwise be constantly logging in and out of accounts – or else keeping multiple browsers open.
2. Fewer distractions
Since you won’t be keeping an extra browser tab open just to monitor Gmail, you can close the desktop app at will. This keeps you from getting sidetracked by emails that come in while you’re trying to work.
Then again, you could always just close the tab if it’s bothering you.
3. No ads
I use Mailplane, a Gmail app that lets me use custom CSS to hide the Adwords ads that otherwise appear on the right side of my screen.
For many users who hate ads but otherwise love Gmail, this feature could be the one to nudge you toward using a desktop app. Just keep in mind that not all Gmail apps provide this functionality. Check the documentation before downloading an app to ensure that the one you choose offers this feature.
Now for the cons. Here are a few reasons you might want to avoid a desktop app and keep enjoying Gmail in your browser:
1. Space on the hard drive
Whenever you download another application to your hard drive, it eats up memory and occupies space. Since you can already access Gmail in your browser, downloading yet another program to your hard drive may be gratuitous.
2. Distracting notifications
If you leave the desktop app open while performing another task, you’ll receive notifications of incoming emails via a sound or via an unread message counter in the menu bar.
For me, this is a huge distraction and it’s why I keep my Gmail app closed while I’m busy with something else. Then again, you might like the notifications. They certainly make using Gmail a lot more like using Outlook, and you can always turn them off.
You’re already using Gmail for free. Do you really want to pay for something that lets you do essentially the same thing you’re already doing?
My Gmail app, Mailplane, wasn’t free. Others, like Geemail, cost nothing. While Mailplane claims to offer more features than other apps, Geemail might just give you everything you ever needed. Geemail is also available for all operating systems, whereas Mailplane is just for Mac.
Since some of the apps are free, go ahead and try them out! You’ll never know if a Gmail desktop application is right for you until you take one for a test drive.