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Leave Gmail in 10 steps (dipasquale.fr)
205 points by adipasquale on Dec 7, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 142 comments

If you have Gmail click this link, it is an eye opener: https://myaccount.google.com/purchases

Google knows every online purchase you ever made, every line item, the price you paid, the address it was delivered to, and so on.

Keep in mind that Facebook and Google also combine this data with offline data about you purchased from other companies, to complete the picture.

UPDATE: Here's an example of Google purchasing data about your offline purchases: https://www.fastcompany.com/90230910/google-has-been-secretl...

> Your purchases and reservations are brought together from across your Google Account, from sources including: Orders placed using Google services, like Google Play Store, Google Express, or through the Google Assistant. Order receipts or confirmations received in Gmail.[1]

Wow I have a bunch gained from scraping my emails (there is an info icon that tells you the source). Mostly larger multinational merchants (Amazon/PSN), obviously the scraping isn't very advanced. Only covers a tiny fraction of my online purchases with receipts in gmail.

I also see a bunch of purchases made by a guy with the same name but on a different continent who frequently gives out the wrong gmail address (I get random mails from their friends from time to time). Thankfully they aren't buying uranium :P

Once again with google data collection I cant help but get the feeling that this is something that wasn't specifically designed for advertising. Why would they provide that link in the first place and draw attention to it when they could just do it behind the scenes (as Im sure the rest are)?

[1] https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/7673989?p=orders&...

Umm I can't delete the purchases and reservations info. Time to ditch gmail.

They probably let you see it because of gdpr, and wouldn't have before that law?

I'm not sure. This is not a data collection, it is a filter on an existing data collection.

The data itself are your emails, which they keep because they are your email provider, and they already show them to you whenever you want them.

Which provides a very interesting workaround for google against the GDPR. But IANAL so probably I am missing something.

This just looks like a list compiled from invoices/receipts that were sent to my gmail from various vendors that has been parsed. Actually there's a lot of stuff that is missing.

Seems pretty tame actually, but I also don't use gmail for my whole life.

I'm a big advocate of privacy, but I think Google is pretty open about what they do. If you don't want this, there are usually ways to opt out and still use the service, but of course you can always use something else. I've been really enjoying Proton Mail.

>> Google is pretty open about what they do

Where have they disclosed their deal with MasterCard?

>> there are usually ways to opt out and still use the service

Often the opt outs don't work, and these appear to be "intentional bugs": wifi privacy intentional bug https://www.wired.com/2012/05/google-wifi-fcc-investigation/ google home bug https://bgr.com/2017/10/11/google-home-mini-spying-on-user-f...

And the latest "bug": In Chrome if you turn off "Allow Chrome sign-in", Chrome signs you into the browser anyway, when you sign into Gmail.

Google's "don't be evil" days are a distant memory now.

Fair points, tho I do think I apply Hanlon's Razor a little more liberally there than you do.

Does it matter if the effect is the same?

Thank you, and WOW. I had been on the fence about using a gmail account to register for accounts elsewhere, based on their assurances that they'd stop scanning emails. I've got app and album purchases from the Apple store listed here, as well as Amazon purchases and local delivery pizza orders.

I've checked https://myaccount.google.com/purchases

"You don't have any purchases"

Got that from my work Google apps account. But got results from my personal Gmail. It indeed looks like a list compiled from my email invoices. I don't remember asking Google to keep track of it though.

Same here.

> You don't have any purchases

huh, don't know for others but for me it doesn't have one hundredth of what I bought

I have exactly two purchases listed there, for apps from the Play Store.

Good infosec and blocking all trackers pays off.

I also have only apps and devices purchased directly from Google. I wonder what makes the difference.

> In exchange for free mails, would you let your postman open your letters, read them, and insert ads related to their contents?

Note that this is not the case anymore: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/technology/gmail-ads.html

We never did that for G Suite, but with this announcement we also stopped doing it for consumer.

Disclaimer: Googler working on Gmail. Please stay :-)

I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I wonder: from my perspective, it seems that the trends in gmail have been towards a bulkier, slower design. And I hear tech friends complain similarly.

How does the Gmail team feel about it? It might be that the team thought that a heavier page with a mighty footprint delivers an overall better product. Or perhaps the team has an entirely different view?

I think the author's advice is more aligned with moving away from Google products in general. See step 10 of his list. Although he does contradict himself by admitting he will stick with Maps and Docs.

His article is basically an ad for Fastmail. Whether he intended that or not, it's the impression I get. Fastmail costs about the same as G-Suite, but with less features, so it will take some will power for people to adopt his 10 step program.

Author here, I have edited the article to note that the analogy is mistaken. Sorry I had completely missed that piece of news.


Please don't be a jerk on HN, regardless of how you feel about email clients.


We buy SSDs to have our web apps take multiple seconds to load.

That's why I use the basic html version of gmail. It loads instantly. Going to the new one is agony.

Have you noticed that you have to enable JS and XHR in order to login to the HTML view? Otherwise I get a "Corrupted Content Error".

That's pretty strange.

> First, I strongly suggest you buy a domain name, so that you really own your mail address

Any opinions on that?

I did so years ago (mostly for the reason of being independent of a mail provider) but meanwhile I realized you never "own" a domain. It's always just rented. It would be bad if someone gets in control of my domain so I just hope this won't happen before I'm dead... And even then it could be bad if it happens (although not for me anymore).

My last name is a word in the name of a popular drink company and depending on the domain extension used, I've had some real issues trying to buy a domain that uses my last name.

The last domain I tried to buy was ".codes", and within about ten minutes my domain purchase was revoked. After arguing it with Namecheap, they said that I would need to legally dispute their claim over the domain name to be allowed to purchase it.

I like to think that buying a domain means ownership, but it is clearly a rental model, and it is geared towards those that can protect that entity without competition.

I say nay. I used to have my own full name domain and the respective email address but I eventually came to the conclusion it’s not worth. Sure, it might give you "ownership" and a tad bit credibility but I don't care about that. I tend to argue a domain is never fully yours. But otherwise, I like not being subscribed to things and not having to pay periodically for things so I went with Protonmail for my new, privacy-oriented email address. I’m in the midst of a year long pending wait till I delete my Google account entirely.

At $10/year it would cost $800 for your lifetime. Not too shabby to put control in your hands

More like $10 a year for the domain and $20/mo or more for the actual email hosting and provider.


I pay less than $3/month for web/mail hosting, full cPanel setup with 10GB storage and unlimited traffic.

$3/mo for unlimited number of inbox/addresses, or $3/mo per inbox/addresses? Note, I'm not talking aliases, I'm talking 'per user, entirely separate inbox/login'

Dreamhost Shared Unlimited has no user limits for $7.95/month (paid annually) and I think that includes one free domain name registration.


If you're going to host your own email for privacy reasons, don't get a package at a US provider.

Up to 10 domains, no stated limit on separate inboxes, with entirely separate inbox/login. The 10GB storage is shared, obviously, with quotas configurable.

Which provider?

AzeHosting, a Danish provider. UnoEuro is similarly affordable.

I have no complaints with Fastmail, great experience.

Android mail clients however - I really wish K-9 Mail felt more modern, it's perfectly usable but the ancient UI makes it less nice to use.

I've just switched from gmail to fastmail, and I'm not very impressed with Fastmail's iOS app (it's pretty slow to start / open / retrieve emails) or the lack of offline support it has.

TBH, other than the annoying ability to too easily swipe emails left and expose the Archive green button, I really liked the Gmail app - it was extremely fast and easy to use.

Anyone have any suggestions on a mail client for iOS? I can use the Apple one (and am doing currently), but I don't really get on with it for some reason...

Outlook. Seriously.

K-9 Mail's old-school UI is one of the reasons I keep using it. Straight-forward and to the point, no silly gimmicks.

I don't mind it for usability however I would love if it actually felt in place (ie. material design), rather than feeling so alien.

There is a fork of K9 that uses material design. It's in f-droid.

Try K9 Material [1], an unofficial fork using Material design. It works just like the regular version but looks a bit more in-line with the rest of modern Android.

[1] https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com.fsck.k9.material/

I use fastmail and on android my client of choice is Maildroid. In combination it is a amazing experience and much better for me than native gmail/mail client.

I might try Maildroid, I do quite like using an open source client though. If I was to use one that's already closed Outlook doesn't seem all that bad.

Do you have background sync problems with k9? I can't get mine to fetch emails while I'm not using k9, I have to open the app, go to unified inbox, and manually refresh. Background sync etc is on but disables itself.

Any luck using GMail with other IMAP accounts? I guess I assumed that was possible...

Yea by importing imap into your gmail account... That would be pointless here, but maybe explains why you assumed it was possible.

I wonder why nobody mentioned zoho.com (from India) and products they offer. They have docs as well as other apps that any business needs and no privacy issues.

And an unreliable registrar that takes them down at will.

It seems that issue was related to automated algorithm. For long term solution and this never happens again, Zoho decided to be registrar themselves.

More information can be found out at:


Why doesn't anyone every mention actually paying google and using GSuite, instead of using their free service?

I pay the $5/month for GSuite just to get the spam filter.

I'd happily pay someone else $5/month for a similar service, but I can't find a provider that both meets the same price point and has equal spam filtering.

I do this. Highly worthwhile, and my email requires very little effort.

That might remove ads but it does little to assure someone regarding the privacy concerns. Google likely still stores a metric ton of data on you.

Or using adblock

I think the author is concerned with a much deeper issue than a simple ad blocker.

Yeah. I don't disagree with the op.

But advertisements nuissance are not the reason. They are so easily dealt with by using adblock.nin some incarnation.

If anyone's gone through this trouble already, care to explain how you did it? I've been thinking about rolling a VPS with postfix/dovecot, but it seems like such a hassle to maintain, and I'm not super confident in my ability to secure it.

Find an email provider, sign up/pay for service, and use it. I recommend buying a domain, so you can have a fairly static email address even if you end up changing providers later on.

Rolling your own email service never seemed worth it to me. You'll have to deal with backups/recovery, maintenance, and any quirks associated with the big mail places rejecting mails from your service. I'm almost certain someone will chime with "but it's not bad!", well, it's not bad until you're on vacation and suddenly your mail service goes down and now you have to either go without mail (stuff sent to you will be rejected), or stop what you are doing to fix it.

But it's not bad! Jk, I'm a devops guy so I set up servers and infrastructures for a living, and I still think it's a pain in the ass. Mostly getting TLS working is the hard part. If you don't get it right, your emails will all go to the spam folder of the recipient, or just not deliver at all. Hell even if you get it right, that still might happen.

> Find an email provider,

Like google perhaps?

Yup, I have gone through this. If you aren't confident with your skills you can look up to softwares like VestaCP [1] to setup everything for you. You can also use more advanced solutions like FreedomBox [2].

The pain is worth it!

Another fun tip: Enable catch all for your emails and then provide different email for each purposes, like this website can have email ycombi@yourdomain.com and so on. I love to regularly see which website fucked up handling my email id and I just silently block that email in a click (and hence, much less spams).

[1] https://vestacp.com

[2] https://freedomboxfoundation.org

Any recommendation on an iOS mail app. I use the Apple one, which is fine if uninteresting. The Fastmail app is not very modern looking which I superficially care about. Any reasonable looking non-Apple mail app reads my email or collects my data.

What’s wrong with uninteresting? You can use it to read and send emails just fine and it looks ok, what else do you need? Honest question

Nothing wrong with it. I just like options -- colors, fonts, etc. I also don't expect Apple to innovate much on their mail client.

If you use FastMail, they're actually native push on iOS Mail because Apple allows them to be. Any other app would be IMAP polling.

Would like to know as well. That said, I recently found that iOS Mail.app has a setting to disable automatic loading of remote images such as those used to creepily track email engagement metrics. Too bad there’s no way to block remote web fonts from being loaded too...but I haven’t seen any/many companies try to use that attack vector yet.

I'm using Inbox for its last 4 months, I've tried a bunch of other ones and none of them are close to as good IMO. I'll miss it.

I hate to say it, but Outlook is actually really nice.

Heavily disagree. The web version on mobile (android; both firefox and chrome) feels slow and works badly on low bandwidth connections and touch support feels badly designed (e.g. selecting multiple messages, working with attachments). On desktops/laptops the imap support is also subpar with problems with showing multiple drafts for one email in the web version.

This would maybe be excusable for a small startup, but for a company the size of Microsoft that is an embarrassing showing.

I think they're referring to the Outlook app, not the service

I second this. The web version is a mess of Skype and ads. But the iOS app is quite nice. It's got a built in calendar view with contacts.

The desktop version or the web version?

All four





I hate hate hate web outlook. I click on new emails and they often don't register as having been "read". Drives me up the wall.

Huh. I haven't had that issue with Outlook Web App. I have "Mark the item as read when the selection changes" selected in my options and I haven't noticed it failing.

Same thing happens to me with Gmail. Weird.

Airmail or Spark.

Spark stores your email credentials and some of your mail on their servers. No-go for me.

Fastmail’s per-app password is a feature to handle this.

And Gmail uses OAuth. How does that change that fact you are giving some 3rd party access to your email?

My main concers are why they would provide a free service and what security they have in place.

I've been on this un-Googlify trend for almost a decade now, as a beta Gmail user I ran into the "wow, I'm really neck deep in Google telemetry" wake up some time ago.

The only stuff that I can't let go of is Maps as the author noted, and Youtube. I'll always use the best services and I like both.

Outlook.com solves a lot of the problems the author detailed with calendar items and contacts, as well as provides the storage necessary to host your email archive.

I'm willing to be datamined, but not by one monolith like Google for every service. That's really the problem and what people feel uncomfortable with.

This article looks like an ad for fastmail.com

apologies for being off topic, but: I am a long time Fastmail customer, but the law passed in Australia yesterday has me somewhat concerned. Fastmail is an Australian company. Anyone else concerned?

As far as I can tell, it changes nothing, assuming that your email was sent as plain text. Although Fastmail stores your email on encrypted disks [1], it of course has the encryption keys for these disks. Even before the new law, they would have been subject to any Australian search warrant requiring that they hand over your email, and would not have had any technical reason for not complying.

In general, unless you and your correspondents are using PGP or some such, your email is readable by anyone who can obtain a search warrant in the country where your email provider resides. (Protonmail may or may not be an exception [2]).

[1] https://www.fastmail.com/help/ourservice/security.html

[2] https://www.wired.com/2015/10/mr-robot-uses-protonmail-still...

Australian here. The law passed on Thursday is a massive concern, but in the case of an email provider there isn't as much of a change from what they could already do (TCNs aren't necessary -- they fundamentally already have collection capability unless you are using PGP for everything).

However there are some other worrying changes like the fact that TANs and TARs are secret and have no judicial review. Warrants (even the new computer access warrants that were passed in the same bill) have judicial review. But at the end of the day, they'd be serving a warrant to fastmail, not you.

Personally I use mailbox.org, and one of the really nice features is that you can give them a PGP public key and they'll encrypt everything you receive. So in the case of a warrant (though Germany has different laws on that matter) they could, at most, get the contents of new emails.

Author here, I had completely missed that news. It is a bit concerning, you are totally right. I have edited the article to mention it and alternatives, thank you.

At least of the last time I looked around (within the past year), it's the only major cloud-based option that isn't ad-supported, but does offer all the extra goodies like calendars.

Take a look at posteo.de for ad-free email with a strong focus on privacy. It’s also way cheaper than the lowest plan that Fastmail has. Posteo is a private company, doesn’t take investor funding and has been profitable.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about Posteo (as a customer):

1. It recycles deleted addresses/aliases after six months and makes them avaiufor someone else to claim and use. Ideally, this should be never done to protect customers. Fastmail also recycles deleted addresses/emails within a few months (sooner than Posteo does, IIRC).

2. It provides only two aliases in the base pricing and additional aliases (if many are required) will increase the cost. Fastmail provides 600 aliases in every plan! So if you’re heavy on aliases, Fastmail would be cheaper.

Other providers similar to this that I haven’t subscribed to, but you can read up on or try, are mailfence (has a free plan as well), runbox and mailbox.org. All of them have been around for quite sometime and also provide IMAP access (which is important if you want to migrate email content from one provider to another).

There are quite a few that have been around for several years e.g. mailbox.org, runbox.com (since 1999!!), posteo.de, startmail.com...

Author here, thank you for the alternatives suggestions! I have edited the post and included them. I did not want the article to look like an ad for Fastmail by any means

I thought so too, but the author isn't using an affiliate link, so...

Author here, really sorry if it felt like an ad, it is not! I have edited the app to include links to competitors. My point is to encourage people to resist Google's hegemony

Does anyone know if you can disable email on GSuite (i.e. change MX on my domain to Fastmail), but keep the rest? I use my GSuite account login on a lot of sites, I've got shared photo albums etc.

I do this. I use Gsuite but not their email. I changed the MX records of the domain to the other email host.


Not using Fastmail, but I'm working on this now. Bye, Google.

Isn't fastmail an Australian company? If so then they'll have to backdoor all software in the future since parliament passed these insane new surveillance laws.

Email is plain text anyway so why would it matter? If you want to keep it private you’ll have to encrypt it anyway and then all their backdoors wouldn’t change that.

There is a great difference between in-transit encryption and at-rest encryption. The former is not really comparable, as the existence of the email at rest will forever be vulnerable, in contrast to the time of transmission. A window of seconds versus years.

The backdoor problem is a serious issue, but TCNs aren't necessary for email providers. All your emails are already I'm plaintext.

I'd be more worried about the fact that TARs and TANs have no judicial overview and are secret in a way that other kinds of warrants aren't. But then again, you aren't the one being served with a warrant.

As an Australian, I wouldn't use it anyway. Mailbox.org is better IMHO, and is what I use.

The example mbox sender frequency script is measuring the mbone list at isi. I was on that list back in the nineties.

Here's a video from one of the top posters.


Which other emailer has threads, snooze, and tabs? (need all of those really; hard to move without them) I do hate that I can't just pay for gmail and avoid the crappy ads...

> I do hate that I can't just pay for gmail and avoid the crappy ads

You can. It's $5/month and it's called GSuite. It's their enteprise offering, but don't let that turn you off, it's exactly like Google but with your own domain -- no user minimums.


If you want to transition you can redirect one email to the other (@gmail to @yourdomain, or @yourdomain to @gmail).

GSuite mail doesn't get ads and you get some extra goodies and a ton of control over your data, just as any enterprise would.

Gandi (https://gandi.net/) is an excellent registrar if you need to purchase a domain, but Google will probably also mention you can use Google Domains to purchase one when you buy GSuite. Let me know if you have any questions, I'm always happy to help people move to their own email domain; I think it's a necessity everyone should have.

I'd really prefer to not use my own domain. If I could pay for GMail/GSuite with a generic (e.g. @gmail.com) address I'd be happy to.

An email whose domain you don't own is an email that you'll one day lose. (Think rs@aol.com).

Any particular reason you don't wish to use your own domain? As I said you can keep up redirects if you just can't change emails yet.

Part of it is anonymity: I would like to have an alias that may have nothing to do with my name (and having a unique domain would prohibit that). Even for email addresses that have my name, I'd prefer not to stand out. A custom domain is too traceable for my liking (even with whois protection).

> threads

Threads have been supported since, well, decades (message-id, In-Reply-To). Most modern mail clients support displaying messages in thread format.

> snooze I originally missed snoozing, but now I just create a task any time I need to address something, or tag/flag it for follow-up.

> tabs

I'm not sure what this is. Can you explain?

> I do hate that I can't just pay for gmail and avoid the crappy ads

Just shows that google thinks that displaying targetted ads based on the contents of your emails is more valuable than you throwing cash at them. That's terrifying.

As another person mentioned, your email contents aren't used to target ads, and you can pay for gsuite.

As another person mentioned, if you have gmail and visit here, google knows about every purchase you have made, the price you paid, etc: https://myaccount.google.com/purchases

They're not reading your emails, right? How else would they know this much information?

That's not what I said. I'd ask that you reread my comment. Your emails aren't used for advertising purposes. There are a host of features that require varying levels of email analysis (from spam detection to putting flight times on your calendar to reminders that you'll be receiving a package).

None of those things require targeting advertisements based on email content. And that's what isn't happening.

Perhaps not in the email interface itself, but you would be hard pressed to convince anyone that it's not shoved in a machine learning model somewhere.

I mean it's literally explicity in the privacy policy. They always kept email based targeting separate from broader data and stopped using it at all for ad targetting a year or two ago, seemingly because corporate (gsuite) users were concerned that the data might be used anyway or something, I'm not really sure.

I don't think you can get more explicit than "Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change."

[1]: https://blog.google/products/gmail/g-suite-gains-traction-in...

>As another person mentioned, your email contents aren't used to target ads

Yea, companies have never lied to users before, right? You're still trusting a company that is notorious for snooping and tracking folks to make a quick buck.

he means conversation view

Has anyone found anything which competes with Google Calendar?

The fastmail calendar is excellent, IMO.

Idk if it does anything beyond normal CalDAV stuff, but honestly, I'm not sure what more you'd want for a personal calendar. Does GCal have any useful exclusive features?

Have you had success with 2 time zones for the same event? I know there's a setting to enable it, but I haven't had success.

My fastmail calendar experiences:

- timezone support is great and an explicit feature. You can pick the time zone when adding events and there is a dropdown at the top to view the calendar in the respective selected timezone.

- you can scroll the calendar view flexibly and not just switch from month to month. You can for example scroll to see half of previous and half of current month. This fills me with so much joy and I can't understand why no one else does it.

- you can't give someone else write access to your calendar. This is my major gripe with it and the reason I'm still actually using the gmail calendar in the fastmail interface.

Does it allow to omit timezone for an event so it always shows at the same time? It drives me crazy when I plan a trip to a different timezone that Google always shifts the times when I am there.

Just had a quick look and you can do that. You can set the time zone as Floating Time and it will be independent from the time zone.

Yes but the question is whether you can have two timezones for the same event, such as for a flight across time zones. For Google Calendar this has been the case for awhile.

Nope, I don't see that option. There's only one timezone to select when adding a new event.

Google has tasks and reminders that don't seem to be supported by other calendars when syncing with CalDAV.

Mailbox.org has tasks/reminders that can be sync'd over CalDAV. I currently do it with vdirsyncer on my desktop/laptop and DAVDroid on my phone.

If you're fully bought into the Apple ecosystem, iCloud is pretty decent. I don't ever use the web interface, but CalDav is CalDav.

radicale [0] and any caldav/carddav client(s) of which there are many, iOS and macOS include them as their default calendar and contacts applications.

0: https://radicale.org/

Moved from gmail to a VPS with dovecot, postfix and SOGo (provides xDAV, webui and activesync). Never looked back.

How do you deal with emails sent to gmail getting labeled as spam by default?

Also, qq.com and mail.ru block mails citing IP frequency limited and spam message rejected, respectively. I've found no way around these.

I just send one personal email a day, on most days.

I've never had that. My setup mostly did DKIM and all that for me. Never had mail arrive at the other end into spam. For incoming, I use rspamd. It's taken some training but it's a lot better now.

My SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are on point. No idea why it goes to gmail's spam.

It's possible your emails are malformed or contain weird headers, that gets them flagged very heavily as well.

Anticompetitive practices designed as strong security.

The feature that makes it so hard for me to leave Gmail is the automatic bundling of promotions, updates, social, forums. That has made managing my inbox actually manageable. Is that any way to get a feature with another email provider?

It will be hard for me to leave Google Inbox because of the peaceful feeling I get from easily snoozing or marking my emails as done by the end of the day. I don't know if I will ever feel as accomplished and with as little distraction.

Snooze is a bit easier; boomerang is a service that offers that for at least outlook as well.

I did this 3 years ago and have not regretted the choice.

I went with Namecheap as my Gmail replacement. I can use my own domain and setup was instant. The interface and admin panel are very clean which is nice, but $10/mo for one inbox doesn't really say "cheap" to me. Overall I am quite happy, though.

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