In the last installment I described how to prepare and perform a mail migration from Gmail to Kolab. Now it’s time for some finishing touches.
Kolab has a “proper” archive in the old fashioned sense: a separate folder where you put your mail. This contrasts with Gmails paradigm of a “stack” where archiving is really removing all tags from a message and the “inbox” is actually a tag that creates a subset within the “all” folder. It’s quite interesting that Kolab thinks of the archive much closer to MS Exchange than Google’s Gmail.
The archive is a special folder and will get created once you archive your first message. Honestly? I much rather prefer this than how Google has done it. I have to give them a tip of my hat for sticking to one vision and a clever implementation, but I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to boxing my old toys for later.
What the Outlook world calls “rules” are called “filters” in Kolab (because the Unix world uses plumbing metaphores). I strongly advise: use them from day one. You can easily create filters straight from messages by right clicking them > More > Create filter.
AFAIK there’s no way to force existing messages to be filtered according to a newly created filter. That’s a bit of a sore spot, since both Gmail and Exchange allow to do so. Or maybe there’s a way, but it’s not prominent enough and I missed it (a couple dozens of times 😉 )?
This has nothing to do with Kolab, it applies almost everywhere, but a migration is a great chance to learn a new paradigm of data processing (since you’ll have to get used to other things as well). Getting Things Done really made a difference in my personal and professional life (or rather “the whole picture” since the author encourages to think about “things” in a holistic manner).
Organize your new and shiny mailbox according to GTD, give it a shot. Kolab is very GTD-friendly and I’m not talking only about the perfectly separated archive. It has a calendar, tagging, notes and tasks. Killer feature: create an event based on an e-mail (MS should catch up in 10 years or so).
I have tons of mail left in the “ToDo” folder which translates into “Do this when the right time comes”. It really took my mind off some things.
The folder structure
If you’re anything like me, your folder structure in the old mailbox was organized in a no longer valid fashion. Things change constantly so the migration is a great opportunity to rewire things. Use the archive and filters to automate certain tasks, rethink things. Maybe some stuff now has higher priority than other? Maybe some projects got closed? Do this right, you’ll thank yourself.
I wanted Kolab Now to become my primary mail provider, so I had to set Gmail to forward all my mail to my new address.
I actually made the mistake of setting this redirect first and migrating later. Don’t do this: this will create near-duplicates which are probably the worst duplicates you can have. When a message gets sent from Gmail to Kolab by the forward mechanism, it gets modified i.e. recieves information in the header, that “This message visited Gmail”. You end up with the original on Gmail and a copy on Kolab. Yes, you can set Gmail to forward without keeping the copy, but I was a bit chaotic in the beginning. You have to decide what scenario is best for you (obviously reading the same stuff twice is not optimal).
Untangle the spaghetti with aliases and identities
“If you’re like me” should have become my mantra by now. Fixing existing mess is one thing but fixing future garbage is another. I have a ton of subscribtions I collected for years, most of them are either not needed or maybe straight embarassing. This results in dozens of pipes throwing data at me and the only sure way out is to cut off the flow for good. Delete all unneeded accounts and subscripions, you’ll feel lighter.
But what to do with subscriptions you want to read? I think it’s best to create mailbox aliases, ex.: instead of firstname.lastname@example.org you’d use email@example.com. A mailbox alias is a free additonal option, but there is currently no way to make one by ourself. You have to contact Kolab Now support and within a day the alias should be done. There’s only one requirement: the alias needs to be minimum 5 characters. With aliases you can easyier sort your mail and in case one of them starts to attract spam, you can cut it off.
Moreover, you can create ad hoc aliases with the “+” sign. Just use firstname.lastname@example.org to register an account with your local bowling arena 😉 . This has one critical advantage: if the bowling arena ever goes bad and sells your data to someone or gets cracked, you’ll know the exact vector the spam will be coming from.
To be able to write from the aliases you need to create “identities”. So, if your main address is email@example.com but you want something more official, you need to setup an alias and then an identity for firstname.lastname@example.org. An identity is mostly what it sounds: you can customize the signature and the display name. This doesn’t equal to having multiple mailboxes: everything will land in your only inbox. This is like wearing a mask: the mailbox looks different for outsiders, but is the same underneath. Just go to Setting > Identities and the rest is pretty straightforward.
You may not have the time to remove all the unwanted subscriptions, so I suggest to put them into a folder, like “subsDelete” or similar and reserve a long evening for this 😉 .
What a trip! And that’s just the first module, mail. We still have 5 more to go! Next stop, the address-book.