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I’m excited but frustrated

How can I make Thunderbird folders play nice with Gmail labels?

Dear Folks –
I am trying to set up a system that lets me achieve my overall goal of maintaining a consistent set of folders that I can see and edit (move and delete mail) when online from a random computer, on my laptop even when offline, and on my phone (Blackberry Storm). I have about 5 gig of old email files in an Outlook 2003 unicode pst file and about 7 gig of more recent mail in my Gmail Apps account. The Outlook and Gmail accounts both maintain a set of about 20 files, largely in parallel but covering different periods.

I have given up on achieving my overall goal via Outlook 2003. So now I am trying to get the laptop offline part via Thunderbird 3.

Can anyone seen or done a good set of tweaks, to Gmail, Thunderbird, or both, to make Gmail and Thunderbird work together as seamlessly as possible? I’m not talking not only about the basic IMAP settings, but also about ways to make Gmail’s label system behave like Thunderbird’s folder system. I’m already trying not to give more than one label to any email and not to leave emails in the inbox when I have labeled them with something else. I'v already spent three frustrating days figuring out that the IMAP host needs to be even though my email address nedds to be my Apps address, , and that I have to tell Thunderbird not to look at Gmail’s “All Mail” folder. But I’d like a better-thought-out and more comprehensive set of rules and tips for using Gmail and Thunderbird together. In particular:
1. given how much mail I have, I want to avoid producing multiple copies of email in my Thunderbird folder files.
2. I’d like to find a way, not only to import my Outlook folders into Thunderbird (which I have already done) but also to upload them into Gmail, so that there is just one unified system of files with a copy at Gmail and a copy on my hard drive in Thunderbird.

I would be very grateful with anyone who could help with either (1 ) or (2).

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