Google Mail fails again with an idiotic “sender” field

I am chomping at the bit to get off of POP3-based email clients. I am tired of being bound to specific machines to handle email.

Two days ago, I figured out how to get around the biggest shortcoming (for me) in Google Mail. I had over 20,000 email messages accumulated from when I created the account (explanation), but Google gives no easy way to mark all of these messages as read. I figured out a workaround: just download them via POP3 into Outlook Express, being sure to configure Google Mail to archive downloaded messages.

With that problem fixed, I committed to exclusively use Google Mail. It worked well. It’s very nice to have all your email available in a well-designed, efficient interface no matter where you are. Even the PDA interface was usable!

However, a major design flaw screwed up everything.

I send my emails as aren@cambre.biz. I want to hold on to that email address for life. Google can send emails using a non-gmail.com address with a caveat: Google adds a “sender” field to the email’s header data, and this “sender” field gives away your actual gmail.com address.

This stupid sender field totally screwed up Google Mail for me.

First, anyone using a sophisticated email client will see my gmail.com address immediately. This is how Outlook shows my email address to the recipient of my emails:

I don’t want my gmail.com address published because I don’t want to be attached to it.

That isn’t the worst.

I am subscribed to a few email lists. Less sophisticated, junk mail list programs like majordomo don’t care about this sender field. However, better email list programs interpret the sender field as the actual sender of the email. Why is this a problem? Smartly-configured lists only accept emails that come from subscribed addresses. In my case, the sophisticated email list software sees that the email was sent by my gmail.com address. Since I am subscribed as aren@cambre.biz, the email list software rejects my emails.

In a stroke of genius, Google does not provide a way to disable this feature.

Gee, Google, thanks again for arrogantly making dumb design decisions that don’t work well.

Apparently, I’m not the only person with this problem, and this is not a new problem (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4).

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