I did it. I got a Fastmail account and transferred all my emails from Gmail over to it, as well as tied this DNS email over to it as well. It took a bit of doing and planning because I’m only paying for one user. But as Fastmail gives you something like 600 aliases to play with, you can create as may sub-emails as you like and use rules to redirect into folders and subfolders. You can also use their import tools to import directly from Gmail all of your emails. Then you can simply drag and drop folders into the appropriate top level folders as desired and make your folder structure. After that, set up your forwarding emails in Gmail and your simple rules for incoming mail from each address to direct into each top level subfolder as you wish.
The hard part was figuring out how to get mu4e in emacs to do it. But, in the end, it didn’t take much. In fact, it took nothing at all when I just stopped and thought about it for a second. Since the SMTP info stayed the same, all that changed for each context entry was the user-mail-address and contact field matches. And all you do is add an entry for each alias in mbsyncrc to reflect your top level folder structure you have added in your Fastmail account, and you’re good to go. After that, you can customize your mu4e setup however you want - something I have yet to do because I just got it all working an hour ago. Huzzah for me.
So how is Fastmail so far? Let’s be honest: It’s incredibly fast. It’s much, much, much faster than anything Google has to throw at you. I hear that’s because they use JMAP instead of IMAP (which is decrepit, ancient, arcane, archaic, and old), as well as the fact that they also throw all their resources into actually treating their customers as, you know, customers instead of products they sell to the highest bidders.
The site interface is much more minimalist than Gmail, but so what? I never used most of the crap that Gmail threw at me anyway even once, so I don’t even know what actually it’s “missing”. Also, since I don’t want to use the web interface that much (since I want to use mu4e for practical purposes), I honestly don’t care. But to be honest: from what I saw, if all I had to work with was their web interface, I’d be happier than hell. It’s fast and sleek. It’s well designed. It’s simple to use and I like it better than Gmail’s cluttered design. So I might actually end up using it from time to time just because.
Then I installed their iOS app. I was running iOS mail since I dumped Airmail a month ago and I really became fond of it. But in for a penny, in for a pound I say. It appears to be a simple wrapper of their web interface and it’s just as fast as their page online: just as fast and smooth and interactive. Whether or not it’s a wrapper, I like it either way. Plus it has a really nice sound.
Now for the labels part. Gmail has labels, Fastmail doesn’t. In fact, that’s one of Gmail’s biggest selling point. But the thing is: Gmail’s labels kind of suck. And if you’ve ever exported messages from Gmail, you’ll see what I mean. If you have more than one label on a message, it’ll make duplicates exporting, and the reason is that Gmail labels don’t have standards and really are a bloody mess. Fastmail, on the other hand, has nice and clean keywords. I haven’t used them yet, but I hear they’re just as good and (unlike labels) they are clean. So I’ll have to give that a try. For now, I’m going with folders because I have a lot of organizing to do. And, by the way, their search is just as good. In fact, I haven’t noticed a difference searching through my emails to organize them compared to Google’s search - and Fastmail is searching through three times the emails that Google is (because I merged all my accounts).
So, maybe it’s just the whole wide-eyed experience of my first full day as a full user, but I’m loving it so far. It’s been great. Their service is really amazing for such a low price. Now I just have to figure out how to customize displaying so many different accounts in various ways in mu4e to manage it a bit faster and easier to see at a glance, and I’ll be pretty much done.
I’ll keep the Gmails active for now, but I won’t use them. I’ll go full Fastmail and see how it works out.
P.S. I want to thank Shreyas Ragavan for his patience and help, as well as his article and links on the subject which inspired me to do this. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have. And, btw, he really has a great blog worth following, so check it out.