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The first rule of school email is…

March 3, 2011

Set up an automatic forward to gmail. If you can set up a server level forward, so that the email will be forwarded directly, without having to come from your email address, even better.

Why would you want to do this you ask? I’m an email packrat. I don’t delete email, I search. When I search, I want to search all my messages, and I want to do it quickly. If you try to search a few thousand emails on most school clients, the client chokes. If you forward all your email to gmail, you get superfast searches.

Furthermore, the chances of you school’s email being as reliable as gmail (unless you are using gmail) is slim. Often, when the webclinet to my school’s email is down, gmail comes to the rescue and I’m still able to read incoming mails.

But the real power is in what you can do with gmail once it’s getting all your school emails. We have a copier that allows users to scan to a pdf and then send that to a local email address. When I do this, that email gets forwarded to my gmail, which is set up with a filter to act on messages from the copier, and it’s forwarded again to a special pdf gmail account I’ve set up. This allows me to scan all of my student work, and have it instantly be archived in a gmail account—it’s super sweet. And as soon as the fine folks at Attachments.me give me a demo account, I’ll be able to browse and search all the pdfs in that account with ease.

If you IT department allows it, you can even set up your gmail account to access your school account via POP, and you can basically use your gmail account as your mail client, which is a pretty big leap over most school email accounts.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2011 7:24 am

    John you mention that IMAP is possible but I’ve looked around and it seems it’s not. Have you found a way to get it to work or are you just using POP? Also, I have a colleague who says that it can occasionally take hours for his school email to get to gmail (maybe gmail doesn’t actually check it that often?)

    Thanks for the pdf sorting trick, that’s cool.

    • March 4, 2011 7:50 am

      Andy,
      My bad. You can’t use gmail to access another account via imap. But you can access gmail via imap, which is nice if you want to use a client (like apple mail) to check your gmail. You can have gmail use pop to pull your email from another account. I’m not sure why it would take so much time for emails to make it from the school account to gmail. Since I use forwards (we can’t use pop), it takes very little time.

  2. March 4, 2011 8:33 am

    yeah, I use imap to bring gmail into my Thunderbird client and that works great. I didn’t catch that you were using forwarding and not POP. Interesting . . .

    • March 4, 2011 11:20 am

      Our ancient mail server (which is being replaced) only allows for a very small number of POP connections, so I don’t bother with trying to use POP to get the emails from the server. Plus, I really only want an archive of the incoming messages for now. But over break, I might look a bit more into the possibility

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