By January 21, 2009

Gmail Manager review

I have two Gmail accounts — one for personal use, and one associated with my online persona. Switching back and forth between the accounts to get all my hate mail became tedious almost immediately. I found GAlert, a desktop program that monitors multiple Gmail accounts and notifies you when you have new email. Google changed something about the authentication method in December of 2008 and GAlert stopped working. Unfortunately work has stopped on the project, and the company responsible for putting out the program have gone AWOL.

I tried a few other programs, none of which were as easy to use as GAlert. Some required money, some seemed sketchy. I almost gave up until I found Gmail Manager, a plugin for the Firefox Web browser by Todd Long. Would Gmail Manager suit my multi-account needs?

Here’s how it works. You set up your Gmail accounts via the Extensions tab in Firefox’s Add-Ons menu. You can configure options for each account independently, which is an awesome feature. My two accounts are set the same — same new mail sound, same length of time between checking for messages, and using a secured connection via HTTPS.

The plug-in logs you into one account at a time, but checks them all regardless of which one you are currently using. Gmail Manager displays an envelope icon in the bottom right hand corner of Firefox along with an unread email count and the name of the active account. If you have unread mail the icon is blue, otherwise the icon is red. From a usability/user interface perspective this is a little weird, as red usually indicates a need for attention, but Gmail’s logo uses a red envelope.

Using Gmail Manager is easy, too. Hovering over the icon or the active account pops up a menu like this:

There’s a ton of info here, most of which I only find of academic interest. I don’t really care how much space I’m using on my account, and would rather see my unread mail up at the top. But hey, the interface is still effective and I can get what I’m looking for easily.

Right-clicking brings up an action menu, and also shows the status of all your Gmail accounts:

The more important options on this panel are the preferences and the ability to check all accounts for email.

I have used Gmail Manager for over a month. It’s fantastic, and does everything it needs to do. My only wish is that it didn’t require Firefox to run, or any browser for that matter. One of the reasons I stopped using Google’s Chrome was because Gmail Manager is Firefox only. My desire to check multiple accounts at the same time was greater than my love for Chrome.

If you have more than one Gmail account, you should definitely give Gmail Manager a try.

Strongly recommended.

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