I am a huge fan of Gmail. My two favorite features, by far, are threaded discussions and the ability to add multiple, user-defined labels to email conversations. I like Gmail so much that I forward all of my private email through there, and have two additional accounts: one for my DrFaulken shenanigans and another for an on-hold ebusiness I’ve kicked around with my friend Bond.
There’s a free program from Gmail itself called Gmail Notifier, and while it does its job well, it can only check mail from one account at a time. For folks like me with multiple accounts, Gmail Notifier just wasn’t hacking it. Surely there must be other folks with a similar situation as mine, yeah?
Finding a desktop program that checked multiple Gmail accounts was actually harder than it seemed. There was one abandonware offering written in VB that required a compiler. Checking multiple accounts has been on the list of “upcoming features” for Notifier for some time. What I did find, after some searching, was GAlert from MassGrid.
The good news: I’ve been using GAlert for about three months now, and it does everything I need. It allows you to check multiple Gmail accounts, color-coding each account (user-defined), and it can route any Web-based mailto: link to your Gmail instead of a desktop mailer, making the Firefox extension I was using obsolete.
Here’s how it works. You type in your Gmail login/pass information, and at user-defined intervals GAlert will check your accounts for you. One of the other benefits of GAlert is that it uses HTTPS to check your mail, instead of Gmail’s default (non-encrypted) HTTP protocol.
If you have mail, GAlert pops up a little window on your desktop. Each account has its own color, so if I see a red window I know that’s my personal account; if it’s blue, I know it’s my DrFaulken address.
You’ve got mail!
As you can see, the notification has the sender, subject line, and a summary of the email. GAlert cycles through every unread email in your inbox during an alert. So if you have six unread messages, GAlert would display a summary for each message.
The GAlert tray icon also changes color to let you know you have mail, just in case you missed the notification. If you right click on the GAlert tray icon you can see what accounts have mail and how many unread messages you have in each account. Like this, for example:
would mean that I have two unread messages on my DrFaulken account.
Now for the bad news: GAlert is not free. You can use it free for 30 days, but after that you pay a one time shot of $12.99. I bought mine at a promotional price of $9.99. I was hoping that Gmail Notifier would catch up to GAlert’s functionality but multiaccount support is still being developed.
Check-check-check it out (your email, that is)
- Great multiaccount email checking.
- Automagically uses HTTPS for encrypted traffic while checking your Gmail.
- Skinnable, differently colored notification windows are a nice touch.
- Also checks Google News, which I don’t use but some of you may like that functionality.
- Support the little guy of software development.
Pay by play
- $13 is a touch steep just to check multiple accounts, but there aren’t any reliable alternatives that I’m aware of.
- Sometimes the software times out — this is mostly due to GAlert spamming x number of accounts on Gmail at once. Not a big deal, but still something I notice fairly often.
MassGrid GAlert, I give thee:
Four out of five STFU mugs!