First, let me give you a very shrunken view of the whole interface, and then I’ll show you in more detail what you’re working with:
The blurred-out bits are my user name, the names of people I have mail from, and the subjects of the mails. But here’s what you’re looking at. First, on the far left, a cool sidebar showing all Zoho’s other services so you can access them easily. This is awesome if you use Zoho’s other services. Right at your fingertips, you have the Calendar, Tasks, Notes and Links, plus the Notebook, Docs and Spreadsheet apps, and more.
Rather than do a side by side comparison of Zoho Mail and Gmail features, since there are a lot of Greasemonkey scripts to make Gmail do interesting things I don’t use, I’m just going to discuss some of Zoho Mail’s cooler features.
This feature totally blew me away. It’s actually better than Gmail’s. I subscribe to a newsletter from this dude, and he also sends me offers for free downloads and stuff that I always delete without reading. Well, suddenly the offers started going straight to my spam folder, and only his newsletter appears in my inbox anymore. How sweet is that? Gmail never figured out the difference: I could either “spam” all his emails or none of them. Zoho can distinguish between good stuff and spam coming from the same sender. Now, that’s amazing.
You can also manually block certain senders and report spam by just clicking this button here, the one with the arrow pointing to it. This is a really nice feature compared to having to click each mail in Gmail, then click “Report Spam.” If you’ve got 10 emails you can recognize as spam just from looking at the titles or senders, that’s 10 clicks and you’re done. So easy!
Alternate reply addresses
If you were using Gmail’s feature that let you send emails from a different reply address – i.e., I’m sending from my Gmail account, but all you’ll see is my blogaliving.com email address – you won’t lose that feature in Zoho. You can set up these aliases, give them different signatures, etc. It’s awesome.
- Archiving. Zoho gives you unlimited space for archiving.
- Chat. Zoho has a chat feature that’s very similar to Gmail’s.
- Folders and labels. You get them both, and they work very similarly to Gmail’s.
- Threaded or not. Choose between threaded conversations or Outlook-style sorting of mail strictly by date. The default is Outlook style. You click the conversation bubble icon on any given email, and it sorts that conversation into an old-style Usenet hierarchical thread, showing both their responses and yours, and even mentioning if some messages were deleted. Now, if you’re used to Gmail, you have to give this a chance to grow on you. I personally never liked how Gmail groups emails together (too hard to find that email that’s in the middle somewhere), so I’m loving this feature.
- Themes. Zoho offers a modest number of pretty themes to dress up your email. Not as many as Gmail, but you have some options.
- Email forwarding and IMAP/Pop3 access. If you were forwarding your Gmails to another address, or downloading them by IMAP or Pop3 access, Zoho has all that, too.
- Keyboard shortcuts. Zoho has an extensive number of keyboard shortcuts built in – you just need to enable them under settings (this is to keep them from being irritating if you use those keys as shortcuts for something else).
Zoho also has a mobile site (rather than an app) that works like a charm. It’s fast, it’s intuitive, it’s pretty and it works. For me, at least, it has all the features I need to comfortably process emails while waiting for an appointment or sitting at a lunch counter. You can also access other Zoho services on the mobile site.
Zoho is actually making me so happy that I can’t think of anything I miss about Gmail. Zoho mail is a serious contender.