A Tech Guy’s 2014 Summer Wishlist

Tevya's 2014 Summer Wishlist

(in no particular order)

  1. FCC responds to the people it serves, makes Net Neutrality the law.
  2. Asana releases native mobile app, with all features of the webapp + offline sync.
  3. Google buys Sunrise.am. Replaces Calendar with it.
  4. Edward Snowden is welcomed home as a hero, without persecution or legal action.
  5. The leaked new Gmail interface arrives.
  6. The 4th Amendment is enforced. Real surveillance reform is implemented.
  7. ESPN Gameplan comes to the US.
  8. Asana or Evernote adds tight, direct integration with the other service.
  9. Hangouts fully integrates Voice, including contact options when tapping an avatar.
  10. Outlook simplifies, becomes more like Gmail (won’t happen, but I can dream).

It’s kinda like the “Grownup Christmas List” song.

How to Move Email From Gmail to A Google Apps Account

I recently switched my business email to the free Google Apps. This means I get most of the same advantages as a Gmail account, but the emails are at FiddlerStudios.com. This is awesome because I love Gmail, but want the professionalism of an email at my domain.

I also wanted one other thing that made the final difference: separation between personal and business. Email takes up way to much of my day and is often a distraction. But unfortunately, I can’t just close my email for most of the day like many experts such as Tim Ferriss recommend, because too much of my work is done inside my inbox or pulling information from client emails to put on their website, into designs, etc. So what I needed was a separate Gmail account for business. Getting personal and business email in the same inbox was very ineffective and distracting.

So here’s how to do it:

The trick is a little program called Gmail Backup. It’s fairly easy to use: you just go to your Gmail settings and turn on IMAP under “Forwarding and POP/IMAP.” Then install this little program and run it. Input your Gmail login info, followed by selecting the folder where you’d like all your email saved. Then select dates (I looked up the oldest email in my account and put that as the “Since date”). Finally, click “Backup.” It may take several hours (mine did) to download all the emails, attachments, etc. from your account, but once it does, you just repeat the process: enable IMAP, input login credentials, etc, but this time for your new Google Apps account. And click the “Restore” button at the end instead. Now all that data you downloaded, will be backed-up to your new Google Apps account.

On the Gmail Backup site, it says that there is an issue and that it will not retrieve nested or sub-labels from Gmail properly. I didn’t find this to be an issue. I think that upgrades to Gmail on Google’s end have eliminated this issue because sub labels are treated with a “-” instead of a “/” nowadays. So the label “business” with a sub-label (or nested label) of “invoices” used to look like “business/invoices”, but now is “business-invoices.” Thus eliminating Gmail Backup’s issue.

Here’s the tricky part: eliminating biz email from your personal Gmail, and personal email from your business Google Apps email. I had been having all email that came to my business email, labeled under a “business” label using a filter in Gmail. So in my personal, it was fairly easy: just select the label, and click “Delete.” Another route is to run a filter based on the business email. I used that tactic in the biz account: filtering all email sent or received by my personal email address(es). I quickly ran though some of that to ensure nothing I wanted in my biz account would be deleted, then gave it all a label like “delete.” Then I simply checked the checkbox button to select everything in that label, followed by clicking the link that said something like “Select all 3,356 conversations in ‘Delete'” and clicked the Delete button.

That was it: no business in my personal, and no personal in my business. In the intervening weeks I can say it’s been far more effective and many times less distracting. Plus with Google’s easy “account switching” feature I can still switch easily enough if needed, I’m just not distracted by personal emails all day when I’m trying to work.

Chasing Bugs in Other People’s Software: Xobni for Gmail and Boomerang for Gmail Conflicts

I spent a little over an hour this morning chasing down bugs in some great Chrome extensions I really like to use. The first was that I discovered that if I have the Xobni (very helpful contacts manager for Gmail) OR the Boomerang (excellent Gmail plugin that lets you schedule messages to be sent later, or return messages to your inbox at a later date) extensions enabled along with one called Measure It, then Shift+click in Gmail to open something in a new window stopped working. The solution is simple, uninstall Measure It. But finding out that it was the problem was much more difficult. I had to disable all my extensions in Chrome and then turn on a few at a time until I figured out which combination was causing the issue.

I really like Boomerang a lot and am learning to like Xobni more and more (but wish they’d implement some of Rapportive’s features or just let it work alongside Rapportive), but opening stuff in a new window is critical to be able to see the original email and respond to it at the same time, etc. So it’s good to have all that functionality back.

In doing this, I checked some settings in another cool plugin I use: Minimalist for Gmail, and found that I had a few settings turned on (like rounded corners) that weren’t doing anything useful, and were making Gmail continue to “load in background” (where you have your mouse cursor and the “working” indicator next to it) for a long time. But better yet, I discovered it has some cool new settings. My favorite is that it can make the toolbar and the navigation links “hoover” meaning that when you scroll down they stop scrolling at the top of the browser window, and hover there, so they’re always accessible! Super helpful tool. I used to have to scroll back up to get to it, or scroll the rest of the way to the bottom to get to the other one down there.

Note: the same guy makes several other “Minimalist for….” extensions. So if you use Chrome, you may want to try out Minimalist for Facebook, which lets you do a lot of things to make Facebook cooler, to the point and distraction free (like eliminating all updates from Fb apps! [hallelujah!!!]). This is how mine looks now:

How to Backup Gmail or Move to a Google Apps Account

I recently had a client for whom we setup Google Apps so they could use Gmail, but using email addresses at their own domain. Once we got it setup, he wanted to know how he could personally move emails, labels, etc, from his current personal Gmail account, to his new Google Apps-based account on the company domain.

After a little searching I came across this excellent little free utility called Gmail Backup, which allows you to download your entire Gmail account to your local computer. Though intended for backup, it’s also a simple and effective way to migrate your Gmail account to a Google Apps mail account, or vice-versa.

Using Mail-Merge for Personalized Group Emails

I found this on Lifehacker, but it can be a pain to search their site, so I’m posting it here, with a tweak I found.

Digital Inspiriation has a great tip on how to do mail-merge in Gmail. They have a Google Doc you can use in conjunction with a contacts group in Gmail, to email the whole group, but with each individual person’s name at the beginning.

I wanted to tweak it slightly though and have it just display a first name, rather than their full name. I found this tweak, where you just edit the script’s code to say “getGivenName” instead of “getFullName”! It works perfectly.

Fancy LinkedIn Signatures in Gmail

LinkedIn has this cool tool that allows people to create cool, fancy, custom email signatures: http://www.linkedin.com/e/sig/11697080/. Only problem is it only works in desktop clients like Outlook or Thunderbird, or does it?

I found a way to put it in my Gmail signatures for very nice signatures with all my company info. All you do is fill out the information until you get it how you like. Then, just select the preview by clicking and dragging over it, then use CTRL+C to copy it, and go to Gmail, then settings, then paste it into your signature. Its that easy! You may have to try a couple times to copy the right stuff, but it works great!

Import Facebook Friend’s Email Addresses & Phone Numbers

I found an easy way to pull all your Fb friend’s emails and phone numbers. This was useful for me, because my Gmail contacts (which syncs with my Android phone) didn’t have all the same people, and some that it did, wasn’t current or complete. So here’s how you do it:

  1. Sign up for (or login to) your Yahoo mail account.
  2. Go to contacts and select “Tools>Import,” now select Facebook and you’ll need to authorize/login to Facebook in the window that pops up.
  3. Yahoo will now import your Facebook contacts. If your primary email is Yahoo, you’re done.
  4. If you use Gmail like me, or something else, you’ll then want to do “Tools>Export” and export your contacts as a “vCard Single File”. Type the verification code and click the button. The file will download.
  5. Now go to your Gmail contacts and click “More Actions>Import” then select the file from your hard drive and click the Import button.
  6. Gmail will automatically merge any exact email address or phone number matches for you. I recommend going to “More Actions>Find and Merge Duplicates” to catch all those with the same/similar names as well.

That’s it! You now have all your friend’s contact information in Gmail or wherever.

UPDATE: I found this article at Lifehacker that explains how to do the above, as well as how to import your contacts from LinkedIn. I’ll have to try that next.