Gmail is one of the most popular email services with more than 500 million users, so chances are pretty good that you’re one of them. But are you making the most of your email account? Many of us complain that our inboxes are too full and that responding to email is too time-consuming, but several tools are available that will streamline your email experience.
Take a look at these 10 plugins—most of which are free. They might just make your inbox a friendlier place to visit:
If you’ve ever wanted to send a "delicate" email but were afraid its contents would be seen by an unintended recipient or forwarded to someone else, mxHero is for you. It’s kind of like Mission Impossible for email because your message will "self-destruct"—aka be removed from the recipient’s inbox—five minutes after it’s read. mxHero also lets you know if your email was opened, tracks which links are clicked, and allows you to see if attachments were viewed. Plus you can schedule message sending. Free for gmail.com accounts; works with Chrome and Outlook.
If you’ve replied to an email, sometimes don’t you just wish it would go away on its own? It will if you enable the "Send and Archive" feature. Turned off by default, this add-on was tested in Google Labs and got the thumbs-up from users in 2012. But if you don’t know it exists, you can’t take advantage of its inbox-cleaning capability. Simply access the Settings page when you’re in Gmail and click the option that says "Show ‘Send & Archive’ in Reply." When you reply to an email, you’ll have the option to Send & Archive or simply Send, which keeps the original in your inbox.
Sometimes sending an email to a client, coworker, or friend isn’t your first choice of messaging. Perhaps you’d like to establish a better rapport by sending a tweet or connecting on LinkedIn. Rapportive will help you do that. The free add-on for Gmail displays information such as social profiles, job titles, and shared connections as you compose a new message, making it easy to follow and connect with your contacts in a variety of methods. Rapportive is also a great tool if you’re not sure the email address you have for someone is correct; if the app loads the recipient’s data, chances are the e-mail address is valid and still in use. Works with Firefox and Chrome.
If newsletters, social media updates, and daily deals are clogging your inbox, Unroll.me can streamline everything. The free app scans your inbox to find your subscriptions, then lets you decide to keep the emails you want and delete the ones you don’t. Unroll.me doesn’t unsubscribe you; it just blocks the emails from getting into your inbox. You can also sign up for The Rollup, which creates a daily digest of the subscription emails you’ve decided to keep.
Hitting the snooze button on your alarm gives you a few more minutes of peace and quiet before it reminds you that it is, indeed, time to wake up. Gmail Snooze does the same thing for your email. When you open a message, instead of ignoring (and possibly forgetting) it, you can hit the snooze button. The drop-down menu will give you options to pause the message for a few minutes, hours, or days. When time’s up, you’ll get a reminder to follow up on that email. Free for gmail.com accounts, Gmail Snooze is a great tool for those who don’t want to lose track of important emails.
Sometimes you don’t want to advertise to your boss, coworkers, or clients that you work weekends. With Boomerang, you can compose emails on Saturday night and let the app send it out Monday morning—or whenever else you desire. This is also a great tool if you have clients in different time zones, because you can make sure your email is sent at a time that’s most convenient for them. Boomerang also has an option that reminds you to follow up if you don’t hear back from the recipient within a designated amount of time. Free for up to 10 messages a month, the app works with Gmail and Outlook. Unlimited plans start at $4.99 a month.
Your email signature is a chance to share a little more about yourself, but standard email signatures can be pretty limited in their design options. WiseStamp allows you to get creative. Customize your signature with a variety of font, size, and color choices. Promote your business by adding a photo or links to your social media accounts. You can also include an RSS feed that displays your latest blog posts. WiseStamp works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and AOL. Basic service is free, or you can upgrade to features such as unlimited signatures and removal of WiseStamp branding for $4 per month.
If you’ve ever wondered if a recipient has opened your email, the mystery will be solved by using Signals. This tool shows you when and how often your email was opened, as well as if and where links were clicked through. The best part is that the recipient has no idea the email is being tracked. Signals also lets you schedule emails to be sent later. Free, this app works with Chrome, and integrates with HubSpot and Salesforce.
If you frequently send attachments in your emails, you might consider using Cloudy for Gmail to streamline the process. The free app saves you a step by letting you access cloud-stored files from Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and GitHub without leaving Gmail. You can also attach photos from Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Picasa, as well as notes from Evernote. And the files are sent as real attachments and not links that your recipient has to click on to get to. Free, Cloudy for Gmail works with Chrome.
Remember "tickler" files? Those folders where you store things you want to remember to do? Well, tickler has gone high-tech. FollowUp.cc is a service that emails a follow-up reminder on a date that you choose. For example, if you want to follow up with a client a day or two after you send a proposal, you simply add firstname.lastname@example.org to the BCC field of your email and you’ll get a private reminder sent to your inbox.
Or send a meeting reminder to a group of recipients by adding an address such as email@example.com to the CC field of the original email you sent. You can also use FollowUp.cc’s snooze feature, and your email will return to the top of your inbox on the date and time you designate. FollowUp.cc starts at $4 per month for up to 25 reminders, and you can try a 30-day free trial.