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We use Gmail for our law practice, and although I use MobileMe for my personal email, I still think that Gmail is superior. Gmail is fairly widely used, which helps create programs like Etacts and other third-party plugins to enhance the program. The latest addition to its functionality is that you can view Word docs from within your web-based browser.

Faster and easier

In many cases, you only need to view (rather than download) the Word docs that you receive in your email. With the new feature in Gmail, you can open the Word docs and view them faster. Downloading an attachment and opening it in MS Word usually takes longer—a minute or so.

Even if you do need to edit the file, you can also do that with Google Docs. Again, the upside is that is probably faster than using MS Word. At the same time, Microsoft did just unveil a cloud-based version of MS Office. Using that program, however, would still require you to download the file and upload it to your online MS Office account.

Easy viewing on the move

I use an iPhone, which does not run a mobile version of MS Word. If someone emails me a document (and the majority of attorneys use MS Word), I may need to view it on my phone. Google Docs can now read those files, allowing me to view them on my phone, within the browser.

If the Word doc turns out to be something important, or something that needs to be modified, I can pull out my laptop or head to a desktop. But with the new Gmail feature, you can at least view things on the move, and then decide if it is worth running back to the office.