We love Gmail here at AppStorm, but truth be told, there are a few things we wish were different. How about letting us attach files directly from Dropbox? Wouldn’t it be cool if my inbox was sorted by files, size and other filters? Is there any way that my unruly inbox can be tamed? And why can I not simply schedule an email to be sent later?
Don’t worry. There’s an app (or extension) for that! Here’s the very best apps to sort your inbox, manage your contacts, compose emails, and so much more. These tools are mostly designed to make the Gmail.com interface work better, but you’ll find great apps that’ll help you even if you use Gmail from other apps.
So here’s to Inbox Zero!
Part 1: Sort your inbox
This is one of those features that, as soon as you use it, you wonder why Gmail didn’t have it in the first place. Install the Mikey For Gmail extension in Chrome and it add four new tabs above your Priority Inbox: Email, Files, Links, Images. Put simply, the Mikey scans your messages and sorts them by those with attachments (files, with an icon denoting the type of attachment) and those with a shared link (with the linked site’s favicon). The last tab is a gallery of the most recent images in your Gmail. The free version of Mikey scans the last 90 days, while $3/month gets you the past 365 days and $9/month scans your whole account.
Running out of space? You should try deleting some of your heaviest messages first. But how do you find those since Gmail doesn’t have a simple ‘sort by size’ option? Google’s way is a little complex. Meet FindBigMail. Give it permission to your account and let it get to work. Soon, you’ll have a full analysis of the biggest emails in your inbox, as well as custom labels that mark emails by size.
The latest Gmail interface update finally puts those pesky promotions, deals and other subscriptions away in their own tab. But a few still get through; plus, that tab still keeps getting filled. Scoop is a nifty service that collates all such newsletters and promotions and turns them into a beautiful, single email you can check out once a day. You can even set Scoop to ping you at a certain time in the day when you know you’ll want to see these. You’ll never have to check the Gmail promotions tab again, and still will find the most important promotions. Very efficient.
Getting to Inbox Zero is not an easy task for those with unruly and cluttered inboxes, but help is at hand with Mailstrom, which we have previously reviewed. Sign up for the app, let it take its time in analyzing your Gmail and then get started. The service will sort your inbox by sender, subject, size, social, time, lists and other options, enabling you to quickly select any one category and bulk-access its contents. For example, the social category will let you select all of the Facebook messages you have got and perform actions like bulk-delete. A lot of Mailstrom’s actions are easy to emulate if you know your way around the Gmail search box, but if not, Mailstrom makes it super simple.
The Email Game is marketed as a game and a fun activity, but it’s among the best productivity tools out there. Each session of The Email Game has 30 conversations by default. For each message, you get at least 30 seconds, and more for longer emails. As the timer ticks down, you are urged to choose whether you want to archive or delete that email faster. You can even skip a message to deal with it later while it sits in your inbox, or boomerang it to set it to pop up as a new email again at a later time. Don’t let the timer get to zero or you lose points and that little emoticon in the corner of your window is going to be quite sad.
Even if your inbox is tamed, how can you always ensure that important emails are being drawn to your attention? Save yourself the trouble of constantly refreshing your Gmail and use AwayFind instead. You can mark contacts or subjects/mail chains as important, and set it such that when there’s an update from that contact or subject, AwayFind will send a push notification to your Android or iOS device, or DM you on Twitter. You can choose the amount of time you want to mark something as important (day, week, month, year), and if you’re in the US, also get notified by a phone call or SMS.
Turn any email into a task with the Taskforce app, which installs in your Gmail. All it takes is a click to create a new task or add a message to an existing one. You can also tag teammates and colleagues in a task, who will be notified of it. There’s a calendar to mark events and a floating Taskforce window to keep abreast of your to-do list.
If your inbox has a lot of attachments, trust me, you need to install Attachments.me. This smart tool will scour your inbox to find all the attachments and intelligently tags them, along with creating thumbnails — finding your attachments is super easy. The best part, though, is the rules it lets you create. Akin to IFTTT, you can set up rules for attachments; for instance, you can get your credit card bill sent to your Dropbox every month.
SaneBox is a super cool app to tame your inbox. Much like Google’s own Priority Mail, it uses smart algorithms to determine which messages deserve your attention and which don’t. In Justin’s review, he noted: “In my case, an @Sanelater folder was created automatically and the robot, using its infinite wisdom marked some emails to that folder. By far, the algorithm performed precisely and I found most of the important conversations still in my inbox. If you find an important email that should actually be in the inbox and not the @SaneLater folder, just move it back to the inbox and the app will remember your choice from now on. And, don’t worry, none of your email gets deleted in the process – they are just moved to a separate folder.” Sanebox starts at $2.04 per month.
While it’s still not supported, Snooze remains one of those Gmail apps I swear by. Quite literally, it’s hitting the Snooze button on an email — you can even choose the time or date from popular choices or by setting a custom one. At the designated time, the email will pop up again in your inbox, drawing your attention to it. Super, super effective.
If you’re working in a team, you often need to share emails with the right people — and forwarding them just creates a messy chain. Instead, use Grexit to share your Gmail labels. So for example, if a customer sends an email directly to you, you just have to label it “Support” and archive it. Everyone under that label will get to see that email immediately, and thus take appropriate action. It’s really great for turning Gmail into a team collab app.
Part 2: Managing Contacts
Every email you get has a sidebar giving you more details about the sender, right? Well, Rapportive super-charges that sidebar and turns it into the best contact info sheet you can get. It’ll show you that person’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, along with the latest posts and a description of that person, right next to the email. You can also add a note about that person for reference. Very useful!
Update: Unfortunately, Soocial has now shut down.
So you have two or more email accounts and need the contacts to be copied into your main Gmail. Creating CSV files out of each is going to be a messy procedure, especially with all the duplicates you will generate. Instead, head to Soocial and sync all your contact sheets, including Gmail, there. The service also sorts out duplicates by merging them. Finally, log in again with your primary Gmail and choose the option “Overwrite Gmail with Soocial”. There you go, all your contacts in your Gmail in a matter of minutes.
You get an email and it has the sender’s signature, which includes all sort of contact details about him or her. But the process of copying that into a new contact card is tedious and boring. Why not let WriteThat.Name do the heavy lifting for you? Install it and it will take any email’s signature — past or present — and turn it into a perfect contact card. Fair warning though, this service isn’t cheap. The free version is quite limited, while the paid versions start at $35/year and go up to $55/year, and that’s excluding the cost of scanning the last five year’s worth of emails in your inbox.
Part 3: Composing eMail
While WriteThat.Name will copy contact details from signatures, you must want a kickass signature of your own too, right? Something that looks professional, gives all your details, and includes perhaps your company’s logo or a cause you care about? WiseStamp has you covered. The free Chrome and Firefox extension lets you create a classy, cool signature in a matter of minutes with a dead-simple interface.
Since your hands are already on the keyboard while writing an email, why switch to the mouse? Power users save time and keep their train of thought going by knowing keyboard shortcuts that don’t distract them from the task at hand: writing. The KeyRocket Chrome extension will prompt you every time you perform a mouse action that could have been made easier by a keyboard shortcut. Within no time, you’ll be a keyboard ninja!
By default, attachments in Gmail can only be through your hard disk or Google Drive. But what about when you want to send someone a file on your Dropbox, SkyDrive, Instagram or other cloud service? Say hello to Cloudy for Gmail, your one-stop solution to all your Gmail-to-cloud connection needs. Currently, Cloudy for Gmail supports Google Drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Box, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Evernote, Flickr, Web Images, Picasa, Github, direct URLs, WebDAV, FTP, and the ability to directly click a photo or record a video with your webcam.
Kloudless is basically Attachments.Me and Cloudy for Gmail rolled into one. The Chrome extension lets you directly send your attachments to one of your cloud storage services, as well as use third-party cloud services like Dropbox to attach files in your Gmail. And yes, like Attachments.Me, it also lets you set rules for certain types of attachments. We love it!
Boomerang is one of the most famous third-party add-ons for Gmail, as it accomplishes a basic feature that Google hasn’t incorporated: scheduled messages. Install the app and you’ll be able to specify the exact date and time that any email you are composing should be sent out. Boomerang also offers the ability to schedule recurring messages, such as reminding your colleague for his TPS reports every Thursday. And you can even use Boomerang to have an email resent to you at a later time, much like in The Email Game. Of course, you can’t expect all this for free. Boomerang lets you schedule up to 10 messages per month for free, but after that, you will need to shell out $4.99/month.
Right Inbox, to put it bluntly, is a Boomerang clone. You get email scheduling, email tracking (to check if recipient has opened the email), click tracking (to check if recipient clicked on the link in the email) and email reminders, all for $4.95 per month.
If all you want is to check if the recipient has opened your email or not, then you don’t need heavy apps like Boomerang or Right Inbox. Yesware does one thing and does it well — give you a notification when the person you mailed has opened that message. And hey, it’s free!
One of the best things about Microsoft Office is the wonderful autocorrect feature, which automatically capitalizes your “i” and turns your “theyre” into “they’re”. Gmail doesn’t have that built in, so install ezAutoCorrect, which is basically a simple text expander. It has about 700 common typos built in that it will auto-rectify, such as “freind” to “friend” and “doesnt” to “doesn’t”. Through the extension’s options, you can also include a few shortcuts to save you time, such as “sig1” to insert your primary signature and “sig2” for your secondary signature.
That’s All for Now!
So there you have it: the 22 best apps to make your Gmail experience the best it can be. But that’s far from the only Gmail tools out there. There’s many we didn’t have time to include, and some that perhaps we haven’t even heard of yet. So what’s your favorite Gmail extensions and apps? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!