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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Apple Mail Does Gmail But No Syncing :(

Yesterdays iCal/GoogleCalendars success got me excited for todays task. But it ended up being short lived. Since Google and Apples calendar apps work so well together I figured that their email offerings would work equally well. As I stated yesterday, I like having a local copy of my data as well as a web version to view when I'm not using my personal machine. Getting the two copies of data to sync is a big bonus. Even if its only a one way sync (web to computer) its better than nothing.

Since I'd like a full two way sync, IMAP is the only way to go. IMAP allows you to sync your web mail to your hard disk and vice versa. Any changes made in either place will be reflected in the other. But, unfortunately Google doesn't offer IMAP for Gmail. Instead, only POP is available. So, although I won't have full syncing capabilities it'll still be nice to have a copy of all my email to reference while I don't have net access. POP essentially allows users to download mail off a mail server. The mail on the server can either be left there, or deleted once its downloaded. Because GMail gives its users such large (2gb+) mail boxes, I chose to leave my email on the server after its downloaded. Other web mail sites might give you a very small disk cap and deleting the mail on the server would be best. If you'd like some instructions on how to setup Apple Mail to receive email from Google's GMail check Google's official walk through in the Help Center. If you want to configure how GMail handles your mail after you download it you'll need to change your GMail settings. Its under 'Settings' -> 'Forwarding and POP'.

This solution is more or less the same as I was able to achieve with iCal. Syncing from Googles servers to my MBP is doable, but the opposite isn't. Hopefully that will change, because IMAP is perfect for having your mail synced in multiple locations. I have a feeling that IMAP hasn't been released for GMail due to the use of Labels instead of folders. GMail allows email to be organized under multiple labels instead of the conventional single folder method. IMAP could get quite tricky under this situation.

I feel that I've only half tackled this task. Until IMAP is available with GMail I won't be satisfied. Its funny how I'm ok with my calendar only being able to sync one way, but not my email. I suppose that I hold higher standards for some things than others.
Oh, and Google recently started allowing public signups for GMail. You no longer need to find someone to invite you. The new sign up is a bit goofy though. It requires you to give Google your cell phone number. They will then send you a text message with an activation code, which is used to open your gmail account.... Told you it was a bit goofy!

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