[kwlug-disc] Yahoo / Thunderbird Windows Problem Solved

Chris Irwin chris at chrisirwin.ca
Tue Mar 13 16:55:48 EDT 2012


I've re-ordered two points because I felt my counter-points made more
sense in this order. Sorry if I lost any context.

Also, my quick response turned into a novel.

On Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 08:32:32PM -0500, unsolicited wrote:
> And just a heads up ... gmail and anything (I suspect, definitely
> TB), is and can be a PITA - only in the sense that because gmail
> doesn't really use folders, using labels instead, (let alone things
> getting uncontrollably and automatically labelled as starred or
> important) things get placed into what appear to be folders such as
> important, starred, spam, trash, inbox, and so on, but they're
> actually just labels.

Uncontrollable labelling? That is possibly "Priority Inbox". Disable it.
I know some who like it, but personally it doesn't fit in my flow. It is
not required.

It is possibly helpful if you get extremely large volumes of mail to
deal with, though, as it can do things like trend that you *usually*
reply to "joe", thus favouring messages from him.

The only things that skip my inbox are things I've intentionally created
filters for (kwlug-disc, etc), and spam.

> And some thing only appear in
> 'all mail' instead of 'inbox' and it's all very ... strange.
> Disconcerting even.

The way Gmail works is you have a big bucket of email ("All Mail"). Each
message (though the web interface only works at the "Conversation"
level) can have one or more "labels" applied, such as "Inbox", "KWLug",
etc. New mail automatically gets assigned to "Inbox" unless overridden
with a filter. Accessing via IMAP, the labels are exposed as "Folders".
There is no reason you need to treat them differently if you don't want
to.

"Starred" is just a search folder. All starred messages (called
"Flagged" or "Important" in other mail clients) are listed there.

>     So, you can delete something out of 'important' and it doesn't
> really go away. It just leaves the folder (getting that label
> removed), but still lies elsewhere.

Right, you're just removing a label. However, if you don't like that,
there is an option in gmail's IMAP settings about what to do when you
remove a message from a folder:

    When a message is marked as deleted and expunged from the last visible
    IMAP folder:
      - Archive the message (default)
      - Move the message to the Trash
      - Immediately delete the message forever

"Archive" is to just leave it in "All Mail", so you could search for it
again. Delete does what it says. Trash will automatically delete after
30 days, or whenever you manually expunge it.

Even when set to "Archive", if you manually move a message to "Trash",
it will be deleted. Many mail clients (possibly including thunderbird)
support moving a message to trash instead of plain deleting it. Also, if
you remove a message from "All Mail", it will be deleted regardless of
how many labels it still belongs to.

(Of note is that thunderbird itself seems to have some sort of internal
archiving mechanism. So this is a trend, not necessarily a gmail-only
thing)

The special folders can be disabled in the gmail settings. I disabled
"Important" and "Starred", because the first is useless to me, and the
second, while handy, is already served by a local search folder.

Personally, I keep the "All Mail" folder in IMAP, and disabled "Trash".
I so rarely want to actually delete an email that I decided to make it
difficult to do so. I keep my inbox rather small, and anything I *know*
I want to keep goes into a label. But things I don't want to keep are
automatically (and transparently) archived via the "All Mail" folder,
which I can search if I need to.

(As an aside to that point: You don't know what you want until you want
it. After a family member died, I was very pleased to be able to pull
back all my correspondence with them. Even if it was about trivial
things like work or electronics that I happily "deleted" at the time)

Now, if you keep "All Mail" on, *and* keep local copies of everything, you
can get a lot of extra disk space used. My mail is stored locally as a
maildir (each message is a single file), so I can run a utility called
`finddup` weekly which hardlinks the copies together, reducing my disk
space by a few hundred meg:

    $ du -lhs .maildir/
    1.3G    .maildir/

    $ du -hs .maildir/
    923M    .maildir/

I could disable "All Mail" from syncing locally, (or remove it from the IMAP
folder list on gmail's side), but I prefer to have it included in my
local backups (use cloud services, but keep your own copy...)

>     To get around it all, I have a series of accounts (live, yahoo,
> etc.) that get auto-forwarded to gmail, and have gmail auto-forwarded
> to a real account. Just to get around the labelling nonsense.
> 
>     Which all just goes to show you how insidious non-standard
> implementations are.

The label issue is not specifically non-standard. It could have been
done differently (arguably better), but there is nothing I'm aware of
saying an IMAP folder *must* be an on-disk folder rather than tag
lookup.

I can see why they went this route, though: Mail clients support
folders, but not all support (ex) IMAP keywords. So if they had gone the
keyword route, some clients might only show you the big list of
everything. There was no perfect answer: Awkward support in all clients,
vs broken support in some clients.

There are legitimate "non-standard" complaints that can be made about
their IMAP implementation itself. Also, their handling of "sent" mail is
particularly troublesome. But those are different issues. I don't think
the label/folder thing is that big of a deal.

> In you have Android, it seems that the Google Ecosystem that
> surrounds it brings so much functionality that one (sadly) puts up
> with gmail. (Cursing all the while.)

I've found their gmail app to be the best email client on the platform
so far, convenience of the integration aside. So far I haven't found an
alternative that was quite as nice to use.

I've tried stock email and K9. Any suggestions for other email apps
would be much appreciated.

> YMMV.

Sure, *now* I read this ;)

> P.S. Have as many e-mail addresses as you like, including one per web
> site. http://mailnull.com/, worth checking out.

I have not looked at this service, but FWIW, in gmail (and many other
providers, including run-your-own postfix, etc), you can use the +
character in the message to help pre-sort your mail. For example,
messages to "chris+kwlug at example.com" would be delivered to
"chris at example.com", but allow the local mail agent to sort based on the
address. Also helps you track down who sells your address.

Some email verification methods consider the + character to be invalid.
Plus, as it is a fairly standardized character, any spammer could simply
strip the +kwlug part off of any addresses in their list.

If you have your own domain, you can just set yourself up to receive
mail from anything at the domain, and completely make up addresses as
needed (kwlug at example.com).

While I'm on some crazy uncalled for rant, I'll also point out there are
additional advantages to your own domain: I currently use gmail to host
my mail, but am not dependant on them. I'm one mx change and `aptitude
install postfix dovecot-imapd` away from being self-sufficient. Using a
service like mailnull (or using @gmail.com address) actually does make
you dependant on a third party, which I find risky...

-- 
Chris Irwin
e:  chris at chrisirwin.ca
w: http://chrisirwin.ca
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