Boomerang for Gmail: Send and Receive Emails on Your Own Schedule

Quick poll: Would you think of email as a productivity tool? Most of us use email all the time, from our phones and browsers and anything else imaginable, to stay on top of the loads of messages that bombard us daily. It’s a great communications tool, but hardly something that helps you stay more productive. A full screen writing too, a powerful to-do list app, a big red highlighter and a wall calendar might all count for tools that’ll boost your productivity, but email? Not hardly. It usually feels much more like a distraction.

What if email could instead be a tool that could keep you focused on what you need to do, when you need to do it? Perhaps it could bring you messages right when you want to deal with them, and let you write emails when you’re thinking about them but send them when they actually need to arrive in your colleagues’ inboxes. Maybe it could even automatically send those emails you have to send every so often, freeing up your time a bit.

That’s what Boomerang is. It’s a tool that turns Gmail into a productivity tool that makes email run on your own schedule.

There’s more to Gmail than Gmail Labs

Actually, I was a bit unfair to Gmail before. Gmail is one of the most productivity centric email apps, with a rich set of keyboard shortcuts and a tagging and search system that combined make it much easier to find the messages you need. Plus, there’s a ton of extra features you can enable in Gmail labs that let you take Gmail even further. None of it offers quite what Boomerang does, though. Boomerang is a browser addon for all major browsers that integrates with your Gmail account to let you send messages on your own schedule. Then, it also lets you get emails sent back to your inbox, so you can clear them out of your way until you actually need to deal with them.

Boomerang's a browser extension that integrates perfectly with Gmail

Getting started with Boomerang is easy. Just download and install it in you favorite browser, then login to Gmail as normal. When you first visit Gmail, you’ll see a splash screen from Boomerang that explains its features, and then you can go ahead and start using it. The first time you use Boomerang inside Gmail, you’ll have to validate it with your Google account, but that’s all you’ll need to do to signup.

Boomerang will automatically set you up with a free month trial, which works on both Google Apps and standard Gmail accounts. After the trial, you can continue to use basic features with up to 10 messages per month for free, or you can get a $4.99 personal account for free or a professional account for Google Apps addresses for $14.99/month.

Authenticate it with your Gmail account ... or a customized Google Apps account

Hey Gmail, could you remind me…

Ready to start putting Boomerang to work? The first Boomerang feature you’ll likely notice is the Boomerang button when you’re reading new emails. Click it to choose to bring the message back into your inbox  after a certain amount of time or on a specific date. Now, why in the world would you want to do that? Most of us want to keep our inboxes as clear as we can, but the unfortunate fact is that you have to deal with most of the email you have come in. But what if it’s a message that you need to deal with later, perhaps next week?

That’s where Boomerang comes in. It can archive the message until that date, and have it come back into your inbox right when you need it. It does this by resending it to you from your own account, so you’ll see a tiny message letting you know Boomerang brought the message back, and all of the other messages in the thread as before. Best of all, if you usually use Gmail in a native app on your smartphone or tablet on the go, it’ll still work, since the message just comes into your normal Gmail. Brilliant.

Need reminded about an email later? Get Boomerang to send it back.

Send messages on your own schedule

Then, we’ve all surely at one time or another want to schedule emails in Gmail, which is the next major thing that Boomerang can do. Whether you’re writing a business proposal and want to make sure it shows up in your client’s inbox right at 8AM when they’re likely to actually read it, or want to write a special email to your girlfriend and make sure it gets there right on that special day instead of at 2AM when you wrote it, scheduling emails can sometimes come in handy.

Schedule emails to leave at exactly the right time

Another great thing you can do is have Boomerang put the message you’re sending in your inbox after a certain amount of time, either if you don’t hear back from the person you emailed or if you did hear back but still want reminded. It might sound a bit crazy to get the message you sent in your inbox, but it’s a great way to track responses to emails without having to remember to check back and see if the reader really got your message. And again, this works using Gmail’s threaded messages. It just replies from Boomerang, which makes the thread with the message you sent show back up in your inbox.

Get messages you've sent back in your inbox to remind you to followup

And even if you’re not really wanting to schedule emails or make your emails arrive on your own schedule, you might still want to schedule recurring emails in Gmail. With a Boomerang Pro account, you can do exactly that. Just click the Boomerang button when writing a new message, and click the Schedule Recurring Message link on the bottom of the menu. This will open a dialog where you can choose a variety of settings for your recurring message. Whether you need to email reminders to your team every week, or want to nag your own self about things you need to do, this is a great way to do it without having to set reminders in calendars or remember to email your team.

Need to remind yourself or others of something all the time? Now you can.

Get those emails back, pronto

Have you ever hit send on an email, and immediately wished you hadn’t? Perhaps you mistyped something, or sounded too harsh, or accidentally pasted the email you were writing to your girlfriend into your team’s update email that all of your company’s executive staff will be reading. Either way, you’ve wished you could snatch back your email from thin air.

Well, now you can if you’ve scheduled your email to send via Boomerang instead of sending out directly. Just open your Boomerang account, and you can cancel emails you decided you don’t want to send, or you can go ahead and immediately send them right now if the email’s fine and you just want to go ahead and send it. Or, if the schedule needs changed, you can tweak that, too, before your message is sent. It’s a great way to manage your emails, and might give you a reason to schedule those emails you type late at night instead of sending them immediately.

Save yourself from embarrassing mistakes and get your messages back

Conclusion

If you rely on email for planning your day, coordinating with your team, and staying productive, Boomerang just might be the extension for Gmail you need. Before trying it out, I actually told a colleague that I thought I wouldn’t be using it much, but would give it a try anyhow. A couple days later, and I’ve decided I’ll keep it around. Sending emails back when you need to actually do something about them is brilliant; you could use it to push work off until Monday when it comes in over the weekend, or to remind yourself of a great sale before it ends. Even if you don’t use it all the time, keeping the free plan to schedule emails several times a month could come in really handy, especially with a certain special day coming up in a few days…


Summary

Boomerang for Gmail lets you make your inbox more productive, letting you send and receive messages on your schedule.

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