Custom login screens for family/business accounts

We’ve released a new feature that allows family and business accounts to easily customise the login screen for their users. Just login to your family/business and go to Manage –> Customise Login.

To make customisation quick and easy, you only need to specify 3 things:

  1. An overall theme for the page (4 to choose from)
  2. Some text to appear on the login screen (defaults to “Your Business/Family Name webmail login”)
  3. A logo you want to appear on the page. You can upload any JPG/PNG you have, it will automatically be resized to fit the login screen appropriately

By default, the custom login screen will then appear at http://mail.yourdomain.com.

If you host DNS for your domain with us, this will just work automatically. If you use an external DNS provider, you’ll need to create a CNAME record for mail.yourdomain.com that points to www.fastmail.fm. (Correction: This was previously mail.messagingengine.com, which was incorrect)

An example page is viewable at http://mail.digitalintegrity.com

For resellers, any sub-business will automatically get your business customised login screen by default, though you can also explicitly customise the login screen for each sub-business if you want.

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Reading pane available

Today we rolled out support for a longstanding feature request we’ve had here at FastMail: a reading pane in our web interface. Displaying the mailbox listing next to the selected conversation means you can go through your email without switching between two different screens, and you can see at a glance what other messages are in your mailbox whilst reading an email. This works particularly well in today’s age of widescreen computers and tablets, making good use of all that horizontal screen space.

You’ll find the option to choose a layout that shows the reading pane in the Settings, as part of the “Theme” group of settings. You’ll also find here an option to hide the sidebar, which is useful on smaller devices where you want to use the space for the reading pane instead. Note, when logging in on an iPad we automatically enable the reading pane and hide the sidebar to make optimal use of the space available.

The reading pane is not available in the classic interface.

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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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