Switching from .Mac

For the past year, I’ve been a user of Apple’s online service .Mac. In short, .Mac offers online storage, an IMAP email account, and plenty of integration with Apple’s iLife and iWork software suites. You get all of this for the yearly fee of $100.

Well, not everyone likes to spend $100… heck, some people just don’t have it to spend. This year, it was a little of both for me. So, I looked for some alternatives, preferably free ones, and I found many of these options from Google. Let’s explore some of my basic needs one by one.

– Email

As I said, .Mac offers you an IMAP email account. For those of you not familiar from IMAP, this kind of account will look the same no matter if you’re looking at it in a desktop mail application like Outlook Express or Apple’s Mail or if you’re checking your account from a web browser interface. So, any changes you make such as moving an email or even deleting one, that change will be apparent wether you’re at home or at work, very nice if you work with multiple computers. Frankly, Apple did a very nice job with their mail service, even to the point of having the webmail have the same exact interface and behaviors of Mail.app.

In saying this, I’ve had an account with Google’s GMail service for about 18 months now and it’s simply the best web-based email service out there. It all comes down to how Google scripted this service. Instead of having a new page load for every time you switch to a new message, or go to your contact list, etc., GMail changes on the fly to your demands. Another nice feature is having simply one main archive and then letting users “tag” emails to their liking, even letting you have multiple tags for every email. This makes it a little easier to sift through your emails instead of being hard locked into a curtain folder like most web-based services. Of course, Google’s patented search technology is also at your disposal for your email.

I can also check my email on my cellphone via a free application and the GMail notifier is another free download that sits in your menubar (Mac)/taskbar (Windows) and checks your email every minute if you like, so you’ll always know when new email comes in.

GMail‘s price – free

– Online Storage

I depend on online storage when dealing with files for college. It’s nice to not have to lug a hard drive along, or to try to remember to bring your little flash drive. Well, I found an alternative to .Mac’s iDisk service called OmniDrive. OmniDrive gives you the same 1 GB storage that iDisk gives you, but it’s actually faster than iDisk and you don’t have to worry about your email eating into your 1 GB allotment with OmniDrive like you do with iDisk. While there’s no integration between OmniDrive and iLife, in the end you really will find you didn’t really use that feature much anyway. An extra bonus; the web interface is both Windows and Mac friendly, so it doesn’t matter what computer I’m on.

OmniWeb‘s price – free for 1 GB, with paid upgrades if you choose.

Outside of OmniWeb and Google’s GMail, I’ve moved over to a lot of other free services.

    Google Calendar – Simply the best web-based calendar service I’ve used and you can publish your calendars for easy importing into iCal or Outlook, incase you want to sync them to your phone, etc.
    Picasa Web – Google’s web-based photo sharing service is the best I’ve used. 1) It doesn’t limit you to so many photos per month or to so many photo albums for a free account like Yahoo’s Flickr service. Simply, they give you 1 GB of storage (enough for 4,000 high resolution images) and you can make all the albums you like. 2) Picasa offers a free plug-in for iPhoto (Apple’s photo management software), unlike Flickr who wants you to cough up $20 for theirs. Um, no.
    WordPress – The blog you’re reading is hosted by WordPress. From a web development standpoint, WordPress seems to be more flexible than Google’s Blogger service. In saying that, if you’re looking into starting up a blog, both WordPress and Blogger are very good options (I’ve used both). And of course, both are free
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~ by Steve L. on April 26, 2007.

One Response to “Switching from .Mac”

  1. Very helpful for another .Mac guy who thinks Google has integrated its offerings enough to avoid the $99!

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