Google Apps is a terrific alternative to Outlook and I just switched for a few months (corporate environment provided Google Apps as a new standard, no more Exchange accounts). I never settled for a desktop client, as I first wanted to make the most of Gmail webmail itself. The results were quite good.
These are the things I missed from Outlook and how to fix them I you find yourself in a similar situation:
- Evernote add-in. The one add-in I found useful in Outlook. Luckily you can install Powerbot in Chrome and get a nice replacement. A whole thread, with attachments, saved for reference in Evernote. Good.
- Custom shortcuts to execute common tasks such as sending an email to the folder of “immediate action required”. Gmail uses filters for that, so it kind of works, but I’m yet to find how to use that with my own keyboard shortcuts – I thought about giving AutoHotKey a try but at first glance it seemed too complicated and time-consuming to configure. No time for learning curves so I had to park this mini-project.
- Snooze email for later is a must for me. I do have a GTD system outside email but why spend time creating follow-up reminders when I can tell that thread to come back to my inbox in a certain moment of the future. It’s faster, easier and convenient. Streak does this (and more) for free in Gmail. I didn’t have this in Outlook although shortcuts let me send mails to a follow up folder to ruthlessly chase them. Snooze feature is so much better.
Mobile productivity is a challenge though. I absolutely need snooze on the go. Evernote saving can be an email ‘left for later’ or snoozed, although not ideal. But if I’m working with snooze on desktop as part of my flow for to-dos, then I need it on mobile as well. I tried CloudMagic but my favorite (with its flaws) was Mailbox, which I used for a while but then shut down. Maybe Inbox by Gmail would be the best contender along with CloudMagic as a replacement for Mailbox.
All in all, I still missed my little macros but Google Apps proved a very pleasant working environment with all the basics you need, and some very interesting third parties extensions. What’s your personal favorite?