While Outlook uses the traditional e-mail folders to group messages with similar content, Gmail takes a completely different approach. Instead of grouping messages with similar content into folders, Gmail marks them with a label. For example, e-mail messages that are grouped into a "Standard Operating Procedures" folder in Outlook will appear with a "Standard Operating Procedures" label within Gmail.
Instead of using sub-folders like Outlook, Gmail builds an information hierarchy with its use of labels. This hierarchy can be minimized and expanded with a click of the mouse toward the left of e-mails.
While Outlook requires the user to organize his folders beneath his inbox, Gmail's labeling equivalent of such folders are shown at the upper section of the label hierarchy. While a sub-folder in Outlook might be called “Family Messages” or “Personal”, it will be labeled "Inbox/Personal" in Gmail.
Outlook users can apply a colored flag to a message to signify its importance. In Gmail, a star is used to highlight a message's importance. Yet Gmail stars do not allow users to attach a reminder or a follow-up date message like Outlook's flag system.
In Outlook, undesired junk e-mail must be manually moved to a junk e-mail folder by the user. Gmail users have it much easier as undesired e-mails are automatically labeled by the system as “Spam”. All the Gmail user must do to access these messages is click the spam label.
Outlook's Archived folder is used to store certain messages that are a user desires to segregate from others. These are available through the Google Apps profile. These messages are stored in the “All Mail” section of Gmail. Gmail users who archive specific e-mails will find them in Outlook's Archived folder. Yet if the message is also labeled, it will be displayed in the Outlook folder that matches that particular label.
A message can be abandoned at any time and Gmail will save it as a draft whereas Outlook will not automatically save a draft, instead the user must click “save” to have a draft of the e-mail preserved
Each system displays a message page in a unique manner. In Gmail, a pop-up tab is utilized to compose e-mail messages. Other messages can remain open while the new message pop-up tab is displayed. When replying to a thread of messages, they are displayed above the message that the user crafts. If there are too many to display, horizontal lines are stacked between the last message and first message to indicate that there is additional content within the thread. Gmail features remain visible when the user is composing a new message. In Outlook, features are hidden as a large window appears for a new message. This allows the writer to see the contents of the thread without having to do much scrolling.
While it is difficult to convince someone to switch e-mail services, the features of Gmail make the migration a tempting choice. After reviewing the substantial differences between the services, Gmail has more helpful features and with a superior user experience design.