Life without multiple email labels per message (as in Gmail)?

While I am very hesitant about continuing to use Gmail for my personal account because of what Gmail is doing with our legacy custom email address accounts, I do like the ability to apply multiple labels per message. It’s convenient for sorting.

Other than the web interface, the only other app I know of that does that is Mimestream. I know it’s in beta development still, but I keep on running into confusing issues (which I report as bugs).

It occurs to me that the one and only reason to use Gmail (for me) and to use Mimestream is because of the multi-labeling ability. Otherwise I like Apple Mail with MsgFiler for filing and opening up folders.

Are there any other ways of applying multiple labels to an email besides the Gmail web interface and Mimestream on the Mac? The Gmail iPhone interface has no easy way to do it, which surprised me, since that’s Gmail’s “thing” I thought.

I’m also considering life without multiple labels. Maybe that’s easier? How do people keep things sorted if there are multiple topics involved?

Sorry for my sort of vague note.


Have you considered MailSuite?

1 Like

That brings back memories. I used to use them all the time. Did for years. Then they got bought out or merged with some other company. I ended up always having a lot of problems with the software - which I really only wanted to use for labeling and filing even though it had a lot more features. And they changed their licensing system.

Their support was very friendly, but I ended up switching to using MsgFiler which was quick and stable.

Please remind me: could you attach multiple labels like Gmail does? And file them and open the different labels/folders with keystrokes?

It looks like I still have a license for MailSuite 2019.

I agree that the Labels in Gmail are great – its best feature – although some people find them confusing because they look and (mostly) behave like regular email folders (but are more powerful).

Despite that, I only use Gmail for my secondary/minor email account, for a few reasons:
(1) I don’t trust Google not to abruptly discontinue something that I rely on, as they have a long history of doing that (although it seems unlikely they’d discontinue Gmail).
(2) I always wonder if Google is spying on me, since that’s the core of their business model.
(3) I prefer to tie my main email addresses to my own domains/websites (especially, as it seems more professional.

Mostly I use the Mac version of Thunderbird to access my domained email. Tbird seems more powerful to me than Apple’s mail program. There are many free plugins to extend its abilities – and BTW, if anybody knows of a Gmail-labels kind of extension for Tbird, please let us know.

One thing I find helpful in Tbird is to set up custom “Tags” (each with a distinctive name and color) for different categories of received or sent mail. Then I also set up “Saved Search” folders in Tbird’s sidebar (similar to the Mac’s own saved search folders). They auto-search for emails that I’ve tagged, thus serving somewhat the same purpose as Gmail’s Labels – they let me see all the individual emails that have been tagged into more than one category simultaneously.

I think so but I don’t know for sure. I only use Mail Perspectives but from what I’ve read MailTags seems very powerful.

1 Like

That’s exactly what they’re doing now with their legacy free Gmail accounts for custom domains.

Fastmail allows multiple labels.

1 Like

Well, on the Mac you can copy a message to another folder. (You cannot do this on the Mail app on iOS or iPadOS, though.)

I don’t anymore. I do use labels in Gmail, but I use them only as folders, and a message is only in one folder. I can’t think of a situation where a message would be in more than one folder.

That requires actually switching mail providers to them though, right?

I might try to do that, to simplify life, and give me more options for mail clients.

Multiple folders/labels are convenient though. I can think of lots of examples in daily life.

Say I’m teaching a volunteer class and I have communication from a member, who is also a friend. If they write me about something unrelated to the class I might want to label it just with their name. If they are writing about something related to the class I might want to label it with their name and the class label.

Doesn’t that make organizing and searching more efficient later on?

But I may try to simplify.

MailMate can apply multiple tags (labels) to a message. It is a Mac-only email client compatible with almost any email provider.

Tags are summarized here:

Yes, it is a paid service, reasonable. Fastmail will continuously retrieve all gmail (and other mail) and label it as many ways as you wish.

Yes, you can use MailTags to apply multiple tags to an email. However, these tags are distinct from Gmail labels and you need to create a smart mailbox in Mail to collect all messages with a particular MailTag tag or set of tags into the same folder.

That would be with the Fastmail client, right? But that client can only be used with their service. What I actually meant was some way of doing multiple labels with my current email accounts (which are Gmail) without changing services, if that was possible. Maybe it’s not easily possible, except with the Mimestream app. I haven’t looked at MailSuite again though yet.

Sounds a bit confusing.

I wonder if moving away from multiple labels might be the sanest thing in the long run.

I have one friend who simply archives everything, with no labels, and depends on Gmail search to find things.

I like things a bit more organized though. I like being able to jump to a label and find whole conversations there.

If we’re just talking Mac apps, Postbox supports gmail labels as well. The app also has its own topic tagging feature. It’s not a free app, but there is a free trial.

1 Like

One other thing to mention: Postbox has an option to allow use of Gmail keyboard shortcuts, so you can set that and then simply press “L” while on a Gmail message to bring up the labels prompt, as you would in webmail for Gmail. I hadn’t tested trying to set to multiple labels at the same time when I posted this last night; I tried again today, and it definitely works.

I see Postbox now has a $30/year subscription system. I wonder if it’s worth it for that. Of course Mimestream will eventually probably have a subscription system as well.

How do you find things like annotating and resizing pasted images? One thing I like about regular Mail is that pasted images are easy to annotate and if you resize (actual, large, medium, small) they actually get resized in the mail itself. In Mimestream they currently don’t.

Postbox apparently doesn’t have an iOS version. Neither does Mimestream. I tend to use Outlook on my iPhone because of filing again. I don’t understand why Mail won’t add a simple search bar for filing like Outlook does. Of course for Outlook it’s again filing under one label/folder.

I wonder if the simplest thing might be to just give up on multi-labels, though I find them really convenient.

+1 Fastmail.

Yes the labels are displayed within the Fastmail webclient or iOS apps. When you access Fastmail from another client, the labelled messages are displayed within IMAP folders that match the label name.

Right. I mean it seems unlikely they’d discontinue the most generic form of gmail, which is what I use for a few minor things (mostly because of gmail’s great spam filtering). For custom domains, I use my real domains where my websites are. But I realize that’s not an option for most people.