Jake Paris

My Quest to eliminate/reduce my dependence on Google products

When it comes to email, most of us are driving around the beautiful and free Lamborghini that is Gmail (along with its associated Google applications). Lately, however, I’ve started to be more bothered by the fact that this free ride comes with an analyst in the passenger seat quietly making a note of everyone I talk to, every exchange I have, and all the topics I’m interested in — all in the name of advertising to me more targetedly. 

So I’ve started to try to get away from Google. I’ve already been off the search engine for quite some time, opting for DuckDuckGo for nearly all my searches. Time for more forward motion!

Beyond gmail, I use a number of Google products (Drive, Calendar, etc), but not so many that it feels totally overwhelming to drop them. Over the past years I’ve recognized this tendency for Google to take over all the productivity applications I might want to use, and for that very reason have tried to diversify (for example, using Notion instead of Google Keep, using TickTick instead of Google Tasks, and what have you).

Part of this is the idea that it’s ok for things to be a little less easy. It’s ok for there to be a little bit of friction to use email or a digital calendar. Perhaps that will help keep me out of email so much and more engaged in the phyisical world. 

But really the main issue is Gmail. Let’s face it — it’s powerful and beautiful, like that sports car, and you get used to driving it. Switching to anything else is hard, but it’s a tradeoff I’m making.

Below are the apps I’ve tried, and what I’ve landed on, at least currently.

Desktop email apps I’ve tried

Web email apps I’ve tried

These are all web solutions which allow you to use your own email address rather than one for their domain.

Calendar apps

  • android- google calendar
  • android – etar
  • android – a bunch of others
  • thunderbird
  • apple calendar
  • windows calendar
  • Zoho
  • Fruux

Documents / 

  • Dropbox (original)
  • Dropbox Paper
  • Markor
  • Notion
  • Evernote
  • Syncthing and native editing clients
  • Simplenote

Final Working Situation

Here’s what I’ve currently landed on.

  • eM Client (Windows/Mac email/calendar client). This is a relatively-feature rich app with a reasonably good search functionality, reasonably easy on the eye, and a reasonable 2-account limit on the free version. While not perfect, eM Client hit enough points to make it a workable gmail replacement.
  • K-9 (Android client). Quite ugly, but has all needed features. Some of the other apps look better but try to make too many decisions.
  • RainLoop (web email client). I’ve installed this on my server for times when I may not have access to my device-based email client. It’s very barebones, but I can read my email on it.
  • Native Android calendar
  • Notion (in place of Google Drive). Depending on the purpose, sometimes Dropbox)
  • DAVx5 (Android sync application) This app syncs contacts and calendars from a domain based carddav/caldav, to an android phone.

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