Automate Your Life Part 1: Consolidate and Synchronize Email, Contacts and Address Books

If you’re like me and you have multiple email addresses, calendars and contact lists, you’re probably looking for a way to consolidate and synchronize your data across multiple device. In the past, I used to configure multiple accounts in email clients such as Outlook or Apple Mail but this type of setup either forced me to rely on a dedicated ‘email machine’ or have me manually setup these accounts on different computers whether it be office, home or laptop. Gmail is a fantastic email client and I have recently come across some features that allow me to pipe multiple email addresses into one account, chose what email address I send a message from, and ‘label’ or categorize messages as they are received.

Types of email accounts:

  • POP3 – Old school, if you have a POP3 account setup on multiple computers and read a message on one, that same message will not show up as being read on the other computers. The same goes for sent and deleted items. There is no synergy between email clients in a POP3 setup.
  • IMAP – Solves many of the problems of POP3. Messages read on one computer show as being read on all computers. Sent / Deleted items are displayed on all email clients.
  • Exchange / ActiveSync – Includes all of the features of IMAP with the added bonus of being able to synchronize your contacts and calendar to your mobile device.

Gmail offers all three of these services, however, for my purposes Exchange with ActiveSync best serves my needs for mobile connectivity and IMAP for my desktop client. These will be the one that I discuss.

Some of the advantages of using gmail are:

  • Priority Inbox – gmail identifies which emails are important to you be analyzing messages that you have reply to most frequently.
  • Starred items – Anything messages that you need to get back to or follow up on can be starred quickly and put in a dedicated section.
  • Labels – By using filters you can label emails as the are delivered to your inbox for ‘on the fly’ organization.

I have registered my domain name, to work with google apps. Many hosting services all for this kind of configuration through ‘one click’ installs or you can set this up directly with google at You can also use the free gmail service in the same way shown below. Continue reading