Dropbox integration now available

“Cloud” storage is a big deal these days, and there’s all sorts of great ways to make your files available everywhere. FastMail has had an online file storage facility for years, but there’s other popular services out there too. So recently we started thinking about how we could let you use other file services from inside FastMail.

Dropbox is one of the most popular of these services, and we think they do a great job of making it easy to access your files everywhere, no matter what kind of device you use. That philosophy fits well with what we’re trying to do with FastMail, so it seemed like a natural fit to make the two services work together.

So today we’ve released our Dropbox integration. Now when you attempt to attach a file, you’ll be offered a new option: “Attach From Dropbox”. The first time you use this you’ll be asked to sign in to Dropbox and authorise FastMail, but after that you’ll be able to browse and attach files from Dropbox just as easily as you can from your FastMail file storage. Similarly, you can save attachments from your messages directly to Dropbox.

We think this is pretty great. Now you can do things like save a document to the Dropbox folder on your computer at home, then attach it to an email you write from a friend’s computer. you could save some photos you received in a message to your Dropbox, and then use the Dropbox app on your phone to access and share them, and have them ready for you when you get home without having to do anything else.

Note that at no time does this give Dropbox access to your mail or any data stored by FastMail. All access to your Dropbox is done using a random authentication token that can not be linked back to your FastMail account.

We’re pretty excited about this feature, and hope you like it!

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Fast, full message searching across all folders

We’ve just rolled out a significant improvement to our search infrastructure.

Until now, searching for email in FastMail has been slow and idiosyncratic. Searching for words entered into the search box would only search the To/Cc/From/Subject headers of messages in the current folder. It wouldn’t search the message body content or across multiple folders. While there were options that made both of these possible, they were incredibly slow, making finding the messages you wanted frustrating.

Now though, when you enter words in the search box, we search the To/Cc/From/Subject headers as well as the entire message body content, and we do it across all messages in all folders. Additionally, when searching for a word, we’ll show a snippet of the message content with the search term(s) highlighted in the preview area. We’ll also search for multiple different forms of the word e.g. searching for “condition” will find condition, conditions, conditional, conditionally, etc.

Most importantly, by making sure all this data is indexed, the searches are very fast, even with a million messages across dozens of folders. In most cases, it should only take a few seconds to search all your email and we have plans in progress that should speed this up even more over the coming months.

We’ve also built an easy to access advanced search builder. When you click in the search box, an auto-complete popup will appear as you type. The final item in the pop-up is an “Advanced search” option. Clicking on this will show an overlay that lets you construct an advanced search without having to leave the screen.

If you find yourself repeating the same search frequently, you can save it by clicking the “Save” button next to the search in the sidebar. The search will appear with your list of folders. Keyboard power users can quickly select the search using the “g” shortcut folder finder, just like a normal folder.

Note: The new search currently only works with the new (AJAX) interface. If you’re using the “classic” interface or the mobile interface, you’ll get the old search system for now. We hope to fix this in the future. Also if you want the old search behaviour (including sub-string matching), use the substr:(sometext) operator as described on the help page.

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New domains added

We’ve recently added some new domains to Fastmail. You can use these domains to signup new accounts, or as alias email addresses in existing accounts (if your account level supports aliases). The domains are:

  • fastmail.im
  • fastmail.mx
  • fastmail.se
  • fastmail.tw
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Undo and other new features

Yesterday, we rolled out a number of new features and improvements to our
new webmail interface. Here’s a quick run down of what’s new:

  • Undo. Accidentally moved a message, deleted a
    contact, marked something unread etc? No problem. Your last action can
    now be undone; just click the “Undo” link in the confirmation message.
    Or, if you’re a keyboard user, hit ‘z’. Note, you can’t undo sending a
    message.
  • The pinned status of a message is now shown at the top on the
    conversation read screen, so you can see it even if the message is
    collapsed.
  • Security options and logs are now grouped together in their own
    section under “Account”, to make it easier to manage the security of
    your account. This includes changing your password, seeing (and remotely
    logging out) any existing sessions, and creating alternative
    logins.
  • The mailbox screen now shows an icon next to messages that have been
    replied to. With conversations enabled, this shows if the most recent
    message in the folder for that conversation has been replied to.
  • The “More” menu at the top right of each expanded message now has a
    “Reply to Sender” option if the message was sent to a mailing list, and
    an “Edit as New” option for all messages.
  • The unread count is now shown first in the title of a page, so you
    can still see it even if the tab cuts the title short.
  • Better support for non-conversations mode. Now faster and fully
    non-conversational: replies to messages are no longer threaded with the
    message being replied to.

And, of course, several more minor refinements and bug fixes.

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New interface and login screens rolled out

Summary

Almost a year ago we rolled out a new webmail interface for users to test on our beta server. During the last year we have made significant updates, improvements and tweaks, and today we are launching this as the main interface for our users, along with a redesigned homepage and website at www.fastmail.fm.

Features

The main improvements the new interface brings are:

  1. Speed — Opening and dealing with email is now much faster, with many actions happening instantly, thanks to a full redesign with modern technologies that allow for pre-fetching and caching.
  2. Conversations — Emails on the same topic can be grouped together into conversations (even across folders), so you can see the back and forth history of messages, replies and forwards. Of course, this can be turned off if you like to deal with all messages individually.
  3. Push updates — New email deliveries are pushed straight to your Inbox, so they appear instantly without you needing to refresh.
  4. Archiving — To make dealing with your Inbox easier, the new default action is to Archive messages. This allows you to quickly move messages you have dealt with out of your Inbox, but still keep them for searching and referencing at a later date.
  5. Simplicity — FastMail has always provided power, but in some cases that has caused extra complexity where it is not needed. We have reduced the complexity of many of our configuration screens to make common tasks easier. For example, setting up automated retrieval of email from an external account now requires just a username and password in most cases, the rest is automatically determined.

We’ve put together a short (2 minute) video showing how all these improvements (and more) come together to create a great experience for our users.

Existing interface

While we believe that this new interface is a huge improvement, if you would like to continue using the existing interface, you can do so by checking the “Use classic interface” checkbox on the login screen (click the More link on the login screen to see it), or by logging in via https://classic.fastmail.fm. Older browsers that do not have the required support for modern web technologies used by the new interface, such as Internet Explorer 6 or 7, will also continue to get the existing interface automatically.

If you are thinking of continuing to use the existing interface because of some particular feature you like, then also consider that an equivalent might be available in the new interface as well. For instance, if you really don’t like conversations, you can disable conversations on the Settings –> Preferences pane, select the “Show every message separately” radio button. Similarly, if you don’t like the preview on every message, you can also turn that off on the same page. Unfortunately you can’t show a preview for only unread emails, it’s either all or none with the new interface.

Help

We have not yet updated our help documentation; we are currently working on that and hope to have it done soon. We do not believe this is a major impediment to users using the new interface as most of the features are highly discoverable as needed.

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Changes to FastMail service levels

Summary:

  •  Guest accounts discontinued for new signups (existing accounts remain)
  •  New personal service level: Premier, which is the same as Enhanced, but with increased storage and included SMS credits.
  •  60-day free trials for all service levels

Details:

After FastMail became a part of Opera Software, our technology was used to build the free My Opera Mail service. This has proven very popular, to the extent that we now have considerably more free @myopera.com accounts than free @fastmail.fm accounts.

We’ve therefore decided to consolidate FastMail as a premium brand with only paying accounts. This will allow us to continue to offer the configurability that FastMail users have come to expect, and also to improve our customer support for FastMail users. Users that want to sign up a free account should go to the My Opera Mail service.

To this end, we are discontinuing sign-ups and downgrades to the Guest service level. Existing Guest accounts will continue to work. We have no plans to cancel active Guest accounts. However, if a Guest account is deactivated because it has not been used for 120 days, then it will not be reactivated.

To give people a chance to try out FastMail before committing funds, we are introducing a 60-day free trial for our paid service levels. You may have already noticed this if you have visited our sign-up pages recently.

In addition, we are also introducing another personal service level: Premier. This will have all the features of the Enhanced level, including Priority support, but with 60 GB mail storage, 30 GB file storage and 400 SMS for $119.95/year. The features of Enhanced have not changed in any way.

 

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New login and session management code on beta.fastmail.fm

We’ve just rolled out some new code on our beta server that significantly changes how sessions are managed. This new code reduces some overall session complexity, fixes some long term bugs, and adds some useful new features.

  1. There’s now just 2 main types of sessions: normal & long term
    • normal – these expire after 2 hours of inactivity
    • long term (you check the “Keep me logged in” checkbox on login) – these expire after 30 days of inactivity, for most people on most machines, this is effectively forever

    (Note: The "Keep me logged in" checkbox has been broken for the last few months on the beta server, but now correctly creates a long term login session. Also the "lightbox" login screen within the new UI now correctly works.)

  2. Logout will explicitly end a session 

    If you want to explicitly end a session, use the "Log out" link at the top right of the page. If you want to keep a session, just close the browser tab/window and when you go back to the beta server, you’ll still be logged in (see below).

  3. You can still log in to multiple different accounts

    We still support the ability to log in to multiple different user accounts at the same time on the same device/browser.

  4. You can access existing logged in sessions from the login screen

    If your device/browser has any existing logged in sessions, we now show those sessions when you go to the login screen. Simply clicking on one of those sessions will send you straight back to that mailbox for that user.

    Although by default the login screen shows existing logged in sessions, clicking the "Log in to another account" link will allow you to log in to another account at the same time.

  5. You can see (and remotely log out) all logged in web sessions on all devices/browsers

    We now track all sessions in our database and allow users to see all these sessions and remotely log out any of them individually.

    Just go to Options/Accounts –> Logged In Sessions to see all sessions in all devices/browsers. Currently only sessions created on http://beta.fastmail.fm can be deleted.

    (Note: Only web sessions are shown. IMAP/POP/XMPP/etc logins are shown on the Options -> Login Log screen)

One observation that some people might make is that with the old system, if you were logged into your account, and then closed your browser window/tab or went to http://beta.fastmail.fm again, it would appear that your existing session was automatically logged out, a nice security feature.

In fact that was never the case, the session was not logged out. Simply picking the right URL from your browser history would take you straight back in. There was just no visual indication on the login screen that this existing session was still present in your browser cookies, which is actually quite dangerous. The new system correctly shows any existing sessions on the login screen. If you want to end a session, you must use the "Log out" link at the top right of the page, whether you’re using the new system or the current system still at http://www.fastmail.fm.

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