Three things combine to make Google Apps email and Apple Mail the best email system:

  • Google’s enormous 25GB mailbox allowance.
  • Google’s near perfect SPAM filtering.
  • Apple Mail’s instant search facility.

System Requirements

  • Minimum OSX 10.6.8 with Apple Mail 4.6
  • Google Apps for Business (not Gmail)

Google’s Web Mail page works pretty well once you get used to how things work but scrolling through thousands of emails one page at a time is quite hopeless.


Use this button to scroll through 136 pages of messages?

So I use Apple Mail – where scrolling down from one end to the other takes a second and searching for emails is instantaneous. If I lose Internet access or Google’s Servers go up in smoke, I’ll still have the locally stored email on my Mac.

Configure your account in Apple Mail as IMAP
To gain all the advantages of using Google Mail you must set up your account as IMAP. Using IMAP on all your devices means that they will stay synchronised and you won’t have to delete the same email from your iPhone and your Mac and your iPad. You can manage email from anywhere, for instance delete a message from one device and it’s instantly gone from all of them; send an email from your iPhone and it’s instantly copied to the Sent Items on your Mac.

The iPhone will only hold the 200 most recent emails – great for dealing with current messages but it can search for old mail on the Google Server, so even on the road, you’ll be able to find ancient email from 10 years ago.

On the iPhone/iPad always add the account using the MS Exchange option – not Gmail.

Don’t create folders
Leave everything in one place and then you’ll always be able to find it. Organising your email into folders isn’t more efficient, it just wastes time and fragments your email so making it actually harder to find what you’re looking for. If this concept fills you with horror, it’s because you don’t understand how to search in Apple Mail and don’t realise how effective it is. Running IMAP with hundreds of folders/labels is very slow and it makes searching for messages in Apple Mail rather cumbersome.

The reason I delayed client’s migration from MS Exchange to Google Apps was because one of the directors had been filing her email over several years and had created more than 900 folders – an inevitable consequence of trying to categorise everything!

NOTE: the delete button in Apple Mail will not actually delete the email, it only removes the Inbox label and thus Archives it. So you’ll still see your ‘deleted’ messages in the All Mail folder. To permanently expunge an email you really need to use the Google Mail web page; select your email and press the Trash icon. This moves it to the Bin (Trash in US) and after 30 days it will be flushed forever.

Managing your Email
Method A – Keep everything in the Inbox.

Using Apple Mail, the unread number next to your Inbox will warn you if there’s any email you’ve missed or not dealt with. If after reading it you think an email will require further attention, either mark it as unread or flag it. Once you have dealt with it just leave it in the Inbox where you can easily find it again or delete (archive) it.

Method B – Delete (archive) everything after you have dealt with it.
Using this method your Inbox is kept clear and anything you need to refer back to can be found in the ‘All Mail’ folder. The disadvantage of this method is the you’ll be working in the All Mail folder quite often, where all the worthless stuff is, so you may want to regularly go to the web interface and permanently clear out the messages you never want to see again.

Changing language in Google Apps affects things like the name of the Trash/Bin folder, also you may see Out of Office AutoReply or Vacation Responder.