I’m an Outlook user, at home and at work, and I have been for the last 10 years. It syncs with my phone, so all of my contacts stay up to date, as well as my notes, calendar, and email. I can use it with any account, including my Google GMail account. However, times they are a change’n and I’m willing to let more of my data live in the Cloud. How do I keep using Outlook and have all my data on my laptop and phone in sync in that world?
Mail: Here comes IMAP
Several months ago Google (finally!) started letting us sync mail using the IMAP protocol. For the non-tech savvy, that means that you can have your email all downloaded on your local machine and read/write/respond/delete your mail while you don’t have access to the internet. Google builds everything with the assumption that the internet is everywhere because, basically, it is. But in those times where it’s not around, it’s really great to still be productive.
That’s why I use Outlook: I can do everything email without actually being online. So, what’s the best way to configure Outlook for GMail? The best description of how to get the basics setup are here: http://www.groovypost.com/howto/microsoft/outlook/use-outlook-2007-for-your-gmail-account-via-imap/
Be sure to read how Outlook will treat your mail differently than GMail, there are very few gotchas that you should know: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=77657
There are some great tips on making Outlook fast with GMail here: http://www.labnol.org/software/tutorials/solutions-for-slow-gmail-imap-with-microsoft-outlook/1761/
One last tip is here: How to Change the default folder viewed when you start Outlook:http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP052431671033.aspx?pid=CH062556271033
The big win here for me is that my phone as well as all of my computers can have the same set of email on them, duplicated, so I’m not tied to the web or a particular machine to answer email which is totally sweet.
Calendar: Google Calendar Sync
If you want to keep your Google and Outlook Calendars in sync, Google Calendar Sync is the answer to your woes here. It’s a simple app that runs on your desktop and periodically syncs the two data sources. That means Google, my computer, and my phone all stay in sync. Pretty simple. Pretty awesome.