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Switching from Outlook to Gmail without losing all functionality



mailbrowserTypically, people become dependent on Outlook for the folders, the contact management, and the searchability. The Outlook-dependent sometimes harbor a silent jealous of people with a snazzy Gmail account but the jealousy fades when the two are compared because Outlook outperforms Gmail despite how ugly and clunky Outlook is.

This article was originally published on on January 26, 2010.

MailBrowser is a Gmail browser addon that sits quietly alongside Gmail that gives Gmail much of the same functionality of Outlook. Many people don’t know that some time back, Gmail added tags and folders which solves the first objection to most Outlook users. But Gmail has yet to become a robust contact manager, so MailBrowser has stepped in and calls itself akin to Xobni (for Outlook).

I am currently a Gmail user, recovering from many years of Outlook use and this addon excited me for their robust features:

  • searches text not only in mail but in attachments
  • view thumbnails of all attachments between you and a contact
  • simple contact management
  • users can manage multiple accounts
  • the program functions in the sidebar
  • adds the ability to tag contacts
  • stats “determine the balance of a relationship”
  • auto sync across multiple installations
  • offers desktop search for attachments

Aside from the endless Gmail options (like themes, tagging, Gmail chat, etc.), MailBrowser steps in to make Gmail a robust alternative to Outlook. What email client do you use today and which will you use tomorrow?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Loren Nason

    January 26, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Im going to try that out NOW!

  2. Susie Blackmon

    January 26, 2010 at 3:10 am

    I converted to GMail quite happily and easily a while back but need additional help in deleting/archiving (bulk) and CM, etc. This is a must add! Hugs Ms. Lani.

  3. Fred Romano

    January 26, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I love Gmail right out of the box! It is simple and easy to organize your contacts, group them, and blast email them. I couldn’t run my business as easily without it. I also love the add on features (labs) available like canned messages.

  4. Lani Rosales

    January 26, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Loren, Susie, I know most people will use it because of the client management, but I’m most drawn to the ability to search INSIDE of attachments, not just for their title- I find myself remembering bits and pieces and have a tough time narrowing it down sometimes with how frequently I use email (it has truly replaced the phone for me). Let me know how y’all end up liking it! 🙂

  5. Jonathan Benya

    January 26, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Awesome add-on, I just added it myself. I’m a big gmail fan, and the lack of functionality out of the box can be easily corrected with free add-ons like this one. I’ve found gmail to work best with firefox, and have been working that way for some time now. It’s much better to be on that instead of outlook because I have better access remotely this way. I also ended up adding my gmail to my iphone, and I use Calengoo to sync up my gmail calendar to my phone. The gmail calendar beats the pants off of iCal!

  6. Anna Altic

    January 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Love this and can’t wait to try it. I am a new mac convert and don’t like outlook for mac. Thanks for such a useful tip.

  7. Jamey Prezzi

    January 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Just in time! Going to do this right now!!

    Thanks for the tip!

  8. teresa boardman

    January 26, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I have used outlook since it first came out, I also self host my email accounts. I will look at the add on I wouldn’t mid dumping outlook however I will probably always host me own email account. 🙂

  9. Marissa Myers

    January 27, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Oh, wow! I’m downloading the app as I write. I’ve been looking for a CRM bridge between gmail and MailChimp, my email marketing provider. I love MailBrowser’s potential for segmenting customer lists with tags, then uploading those lists to MailChimp for email marketing. Thanks, Lani!

  10. April Groves

    January 31, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    ****Holding my nose and closing my eyes****

    Seriously, ya’ll. Like Teresa, I have ALWAYS used Outlook for the awesomeness of it all. But I am also using Google Groups. Docs, calander, House cleaning service….okay maybe not that last one. But I can see where converting to gmail can be productive…

    But I am supppppper nervous.

    Question – I have an assistant and Outlook doesn’t play well across the accounts (sharing contacts, calanders, tasks, etc) does gmail and this new add on address that at all?

  11. James Malanowski

    February 5, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Grr … Interesting concept but no Linux support.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 5, 2010 at 1:09 am

      You’re right, it’s not a full suite. Maybe some day! 🙂

  12. James Malanowski

    February 5, 2010 at 1:11 am

    From the comments on the site the authors didn’t seem opposed to a Linux port they just didn’t think the demand would be high enough. I think they’d be surprised.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 5, 2010 at 1:18 am

      I absolutely agree. I’m not a Linux users, but since I’m in a high tech city, I know a LOT of people that are.

  13. Marlow

    January 30, 2011 at 1:03 am

    I was hoping this would make Gmail usable for me, but, sadly, it does not. Even with this download, Gmail is inadequate, inferior and unusable for me.

    Important features that Gmail lacks:

    Limited to 100 emails per page instead of ALL emails shown on one page
    Inability to create newsletter-style emails with embedded photos
    Inability to alphabetize and view all emails from the same person on one page
    Inability to have a signature inserted after your email message

    • Lani Rosales

      February 1, 2011 at 12:11 am

      Marlow, even though I’ve switched, you hit on some things that drive me crazy. I miss being able to sort like I could in Outlook, but I’ve learned a few tricks that make Gmail usable:

      1. When I just want to see unread emails, in the search bar I type “in:inbox is:unread.”
      2. When I want to see only emails with attachments, I type “in:inbox has:attachment”
      3. I do newsletters via Gmail (drag images into the compose box and they embed rather than attach), but it gets flagged as spam more often than when I do it through
      4. Gmail in labs now allows an HTML signature in all emails. It’s new.

      Sorting is a problem and capping at 100 is, but maybe these other tips have softened the blow? 🙂

  14. Joe Loomer

    January 30, 2011 at 7:59 am

    I’d love to go to the cloud permanently, but in my position, the Xobni interface and the issues Marlow mentioned are just too important to give up Outlook right now. I’m sure there’s a future for that in Gmail.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  15. Bryan

    January 31, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Developing a growing disdain for Outlook. Will definitely give MailBrowser a try! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Nicole Boynton

    February 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Lani –
    Do you know if this add on allows you to create follow ups/to dos or appointments directly from the contact list? Had someone looking for this feature the other day.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Nicole, you can’t do that from the contact in standard GMail but you might be able to from MailBrowser. What I do is I keep the calendar widget on the sidebar of my Gmail and immediately schedule it in the “quick add” portion and note in my contact that I did so. But no, it’s still not robust enough to do that on its own but there are likely browser extensions on Chrome that offer it…

  17. MH for Movoto

    February 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I use Outlook at work and Gmail in my personal life. And while I never want my personal life to feel quite THAT organized, i definitely prefer it and it’s nice to think that maybe someday we’ll use nothing but gmail, all the time!

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Tech News

Loss of internet access is used as punishment for those who abuse it

(TECH NEWS) Internet access is becoming more of a human right especially in light of recent events –so why is revoking it being used as a punishment?



Internet access

When one hears the word “punishment”, several things likely come to mind—firing, fees, jail time, and even death for the dramatic among us—but most people probably don’t envision having their access to utilities restricted as a legal repercussion.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening across the country—if you consider Internet access a utility.

In the past, you’ve probably heard stories about people awaiting trial or experiencing probation limitations being told that they are not to use the Internet or certain types of communication. While this may seem unjust, the circumstances usually provide some context for the extreme nature of such a punishment; for example, it seems reasonable to ask that a person accused of downloading child pornography keep off the internet.

More recently–and perhaps more controversially—a young man accused of using social media to incite violent behavior during country-wide protests was ordered to stay offline while awaiting trial. This order came after the individual purportedly encouraged people to “[tip] police cars”, vandalize property, and generally exhibit other “riot”-oriented behaviors.

Whether or not one reads this post as a specific call to create violence—something that is, in fact, illegal—the fact remains that the “punishment” for this crime in lieu of a current conviction involves cutting off the person involved from all internet access until a verdict is achieved.

The person involved in this story may be less than sympathetic depending on your stance, but they aren’t alone. The response of cutting off the Internet in this case complements other stories we’ve seen, such as one regarding Cox and a client in Florida. Allegedly, the client in question paid for unlimited data—a potential issue in and of itself—and then exceeded eight terabytes of monthly use on multiple occasions.

Did Cox correct their plan, allocate more data, throttle this user, or reach out to explain their concerns, you may ask?

No. Cox alerted the user in question that they would terminate his account if his use continued to be abnormally high, and in the meantime, they throttled the user’s ENTIRE neighborhood. This kind of behavior would be unacceptable when applied to any other utility (imagine having your air conditioning access “throttled” during the summer), so why is it okay for Cox?

The overarching issue in most cases stems from Internet provider availability; in many areas, clients have one realistic option for an Internet provider, thus allowing that provider to set prices, throttle data, and impose restrictions on users free of reproach.

Anyone who has used Comcast, Cox, or Cable One knows how finicky these services can be regardless of time of use, and running a simple Google speed test is usually enough to confirm that the speeds you pay for and the speeds you receive are rarely even close.

In the COVID era in which we find ourselves, it is imperative that Internet access be considered more than just a commodity: It is a right, one that cannot be revoked simply due to a case of overuse here, or a flaw in a data plan there.

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Tech News

How to personalize your site for every visitor without learning code

(TECH NEWS) This awesome tool from Proof lets you personalize your website for visitors without coding. Experiences utilizes your users to create the perfect view for them.



experiences welcome page

What if you could personalize every step of the sales funnel? The team over at Proof believes this is the next best step for businesses looking to drive leads online. Their tool, Experiences, is a marketer-friendly software that lets you personalize your website for every visitor without coding.

Using Experiences your team can create a targeted experience for the different types of visitors coming to your website. The personalization is thought to drive leads more efficiently because it offers visitors exactly the information they want. Experiences can also be used to A/B test different strategies for your website. This could be a game changer for companies that target multiple specific audiences.

Experiences is a drag-and-drop style tool, which means nearly anyone on your team can learn to use it. The UX is meant to be intuitive and simple, so you don’t need a web developer to guide you through the process. In order to build out audiences for your website, Experiences pulls data from your CRM, such as SalesForce and Hubspot, or you can utilize a Clearbit integration which pull third-party information.

Before you go rushing to purchase a new tool for your team, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to Proof, personalization is best suited for companies with at least 15,000 plus visitors per month. This volume of visitors is necessary for Experiences to gather the data it needs to make predictions. The tool is also recommended for B2B businesses since company data is public.

The Proof team is a success story of the Y Combinator demo day. They pitched their idea for a personalized web experience and quickly found themselves funded. Now, they’ve built out their software and have seen success with their initial clients. Over the past 18 months, their early-access clients, which included brands like Profitwell and Shipbob, have seen an increase in leads, proposals, and downloads.

Perhaps the best part of Proof is that they don’t just sell you a product and walk away. Their website offers helpful resources for customers called Playbooks where you can learn how to best use the tool to achieve your company’s goals be it converting leads or engaging with your audience. If this sounds like exactly the tool your team needs, you can request a demo on their website.

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Tech News

3 cool ways bug-sized robots are changing the world

(TECH NEWS) Robots are at the forefront of tech advancements. But why should we care? Here are some noticeable ways robots are changing the world.



Bits of robots and microchips changing the world.

When we envision the robots that will (and already are) transforming our world, we’re most likely thinking of something human- or dog-sized. So why are scientists hyper-focusing on developing bug-sized (or even smaller!) robots?

Medical advances

Tiny robots could assist in better drug delivery, as well as conduct minor internal surgeries that wouldn’t otherwise require incisions.

Rescue operations

We’ve all heard about the robot dogs that can rescue people who’ve been buried beneath rubble or sheets of snow. However, in some circumstances these machines are too bulky to do the job safely. Bug-sized robots are a less invasive savior in high-intensity environments, such as mine fields, that larger robots would not be able to navigate without causing disruption.


Much like the insects after which these robots were designed, they can be programmed to work together (think: ants building a bridge using their own bodies). This could be key in exploring surfaces like Mars, which are not safe for humans to explore freely. Additionally, tiny robots that can be set to construct and then deconstruct themselves could help astronauts in landings and other endeavors in space.

Why insects?

Well, perhaps the most important reason is that insects have “nature’s optimized design”. They can jump vast distances (fleas), hold items ten times the weight of their own bodies (ants) and perform tasks with the highest efficiency (bees) – all qualities that, if utilized correctly, would be extremely beneficial to humans. Furthermore, a bug-sized bot is economical. If one short-circuits or gets lost, it won’t totally break the bank.

What’s next?

Something scientists have yet to replicate in robotics is the material elements that make insects so unique and powerful, such as tiny claws or sticky pads. What if a robot could produce excrement that could build something, the way bees do in their hives, or spiders do with their webs? While replicating these materials is often difficult and costly, it is undoubtedly the next frontier in bug-inspired robotics – and it will likely open doors for humans that we never imaged possible.

This is all to say that in the pursuit of creating strong, powerful robots, they need not always be big in stature – sometimes, the tiniest robots are just the best for the task.

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