This has been a long time coming, but I'm finally trying the 60-day free trial of Fastmail. And so far, I'm loving it.
To be clear, I'm not completely ditching Gmail; I'm taking a graduated approach. So I still have all my Gmail addresses, and they're still doing all their spam filtering and what-not. But all my Gmail is now getting forwarded to Fastmail. I'm also using, for the first time ever, my own domains via Fastmail, which is awesome and one of my primary motivations for switching. So eventually Gmail will get phased out in favor of my personalized domains names.
Some of the great things Fastmail offers:
- A terrific browser-based interface
I prefer managing email in the browser rather than using a local email client, and Fastmail's web interface on my Mac and in iOS is actually better than Gmail's for my needs. One of my favorite features is the lack of paging. Fastmail has infinite scrolling of your email, so you don't have to keep hitting a "back" button to see your email history.
Fastmail's web interface is also super fast and responsive. I never realized how slow Gmail's interface actually was until I used Fastmail.
Fastmail offers tons of features — like forwarding, aliases, personalities, and of course virtual domains — that let me set up my mail just the way I want it to work.
Fastmail will import your Gmail into a standard folder hierarchy in your Fastmail account. Very useful for switchers like me.
Fastmail lets you download any email folder to a .ZIP archive on your computer. The contents of this archive are EML files, which are basically text files that can be read by any email application, or by plain text readers. Very handy!
- Mass Email Management
You can also mass delete whole email folders and search, flag and delete duplicates.
- An "Unread" view
View only your unread messages — shockingly not offered in Gmail.
- Excellent Search
Fastmail's search, so far, has even proven superior to Gmail's, surprisingly. There are tons of operators, and searches are fast and savable. Yes, savable searches! Since Fastmail lacks Gmail's labels, I'm using searches instead. And so far I think it's preferable. I now rely less on organization through labels, which I never really used to find things anyway, and simply save searches of my flat archive. Simple and super flexible to boot! This is email organization after the fact, and I think it's a great way to do it.
It may seem unimportant, but Fastmail uses vanilla IMAP, and this offers some big advantages over Gmail's weirdo IMAP implementation. The main one, for me, is that when iOS's Mail app is set up using IMAP, I can set it to send mail using any "from" address I specify. You can do that in Gmail's browser, and in Gmail's hideous iOS client, but not in Mail that's been set up for Gmail. This is kind of a big deal for me.
Fastmail's calendar is great as well, and also features the same infinite scrolling you find in the email view. It also uses CalDAV for sharing, and, of course, can import all my shared Google Calendars. And the inline event editing is maybe the best I've seen — on a browser or on the desktop.
So what's missing from Fastmail? Not much! There are really only two things, and one is purported to be coming soon:
Fastmail currently lacks CardDAV, which is, in my estimation, the best way for sharing your contacts among your various devices and services. But according to the Fastmail team, it's in the works. Once that's available, I'll almost certainly switch over completely to Fastmail.
- Undo Send
This has become my number one favorite Gmail feature. I don't know why this feature is not ubiquitous, because it's awesome, and seems like it would be fairly easy to implement. Alas, it does not exist in Fastmail, and I don't know that it ever will.
I should mention, too, that with Fastmail you're a paying customer, and I've heard very good things about their support. Support for Gmail, beyond online help pages, is non-existent as far as I know. And as a paying customer, you have the ear of the company and can request features. So who knows? Maybe some day we'll get Undo Send after all.
In any case, so far, with Fastmail I'm able to finally set up email on all my devices — Mac, iPhone, iPad — just the way I like it. It's really nice. If you've been thinking about switching from Gmail to something else, Fastmail is definitely worth checking out. After less than a week's use, I'm pretty confident I'll be signing up as a paid customer when my trial ends. It's really that good.