Gmail on Steroids

Category: Email

If you’ve used Gmail for a while, you’ve seen new features appear in the interface. Many of these goodies come from Gmail Labs, but there are many other nifty tools that you can bolt on to Gmail to make your digital life easier. Here are some of the best Gmail addons...

Getting More Out of Gmail: Labs and Addons

Email remains the hub of many people’s online lives even though they also communicate through Facebook, Twitter, text, and sometimes even voice phone calls. Gmail is the world's most popular webmail service, with over 300 million users. Yahoo and Hotmail aren't far behind, adding to the tally of about a billion webmail users.

The problem is that email inboxes become cluttered with both business and personal messages. These messages, already in digital form, can become the raw materials for creating tasks, appointments, social media posts, and other digital goods. Managing email is a matter of sorting and processing it into other forms. A host of tools are continually evolving to make email management easier and more productive.
Gmail Addons

Gmail Labs can be accessed through the latest online Gmail interface. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner and select “settings.” Then click the “Labs” link, which is third from the right on the menu bar. You’ll find a list of about 30 gadgets with which you can play. These offerings will change from time to time. They may not work all of the time. It’s easy to activate or deactivate any Labs offering.

Some Labs tools are applicable to any user. The “Undo Send” tool, for instance, lets you cancel an outbound message up to five seconds after you hit the Send button. “Quote selected text” is handy when replying to a message. “Quick Links” adds a box to the left column where you can save any link for fast 1-click access. I use "Inserting images" to quickly insert images into the message body.

There are Lab tools for the hyper-busy. “SmartLabels” automatically categorizes emails and files them away into folders according to rules you set up. “Multiple Inboxes” displays important messages from all of your email accounts. “Google Voice Player in mail” saves a few keystrokes.

Third-Party Gmail Addons

Everything in Gmail Labs is available free of charge from Google, although third parties may have developed the tools. Beyond Gmail Labs, there are many Gmail add-ons available. Some are free, some for sale; most offer a free trial version. Some work with all browsers, others only in a particular browser such as Firefox or Chrome. Here are a dozen of the best, most useful and most popular Gmail addons.

  • ActiveInbox is a Firefox add-on for the hyper-busy. It clears out your inbox, elevates emails to tasks, groups emails by person or project, and generally replaces an intern or secretary. The Pro versions costs $24.95/year and does more.
  • AwayFind sends a text or voice alert to your phone when an email designated “important” arrives. Three pricing plans linked to usage are available for $4.99 to $49.99 per month.
  • Boomerang for Gmail for Firefox or Chrome sends composed emails at scheduled times and restores archived emails to your inbox when you need them. Pricing ranges from free to $14.99 per month.
  • CloudMagic is a search tool for all of your online cubbyholes: Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, and more. The free version gives you 50 “previews” per month, while $4.99 buys unlimited previews per month.
  • FollowUpCC adds reminders to emails and integrates with SalesForce accounts. It requires you to send a copy of an email to a FollowUpCC email address.
  • Gmail Attachments to Drive is a Chrome add-on that uploads large files to Google Drive and sends Drive links to email recipients.
  • PowerInbox is a Firefox add-on that lets you use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn from your email inbox.
  • Rapportive for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari provides information and social media links for the person whose email you are composing or reading.
  • SaneBox has an insane number of features for managing any email inbox. The goal is to help you manage inbox clutter. Prices range from $2.04 to $19.54 per month.
  • Smartr Inbox for Gmail by Xobni is a Firefox, Chrome, or Safari add-on that displays contact information about your email correspondents.
  • Snooze Your Email sets reminders and puts archived emails back into your inbox at the specified times.
  • Taskforce converts Gmail emails into tasks and schedules reminders.

Do you have a favorite Gmail feature, lab, addon, or accessory? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Gmail on Steroids"

Posted by:

21 Feb 2013

Thanks Bob! Great article as usual. Just wanted to add that Gmail's Undo Send lab feature actually gives you up to 30 seconds to undo/cancel your send. 5 seconds is the default option, but you also have 10, 20, & 30 seconds. You can configure this in General Settings. It is a great feature, and has saved me from making mistakes on multiple occasions. I also use, and recommend, Boomerang.

Posted by:

Stuart Berg
21 Feb 2013

I use a Windows program called gKnujon that automatically sends the spam in your Gmail Spam folder to Knujon and deletes them. Knujon analyzes the spam you send them and works at shutting the spammers down. You can read about Knujon here
and you can download the Windows program that sends Knujon your spam here
The program to download is called "StandAlone gknujon".

Posted by:

Jeff Porter
21 Feb 2013

I use Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome and have read your recent article on gmail on steroids.
I tried to access Labs as you advised:- "Gmail Labs can be accessed through the latest online Gmail interface. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner and select “settings.” Then click the “Labs” link, which is third from the right on the menu bar" . Unfortunately this does not work as you descibed. There is no Labs link at all on my system, the third link from the right is Drive.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Look a bit further down. There's another menu bar under "Settings".

Posted by:

21 Feb 2013

Does anyone still use gmail anymore? With all the intrusion effort, invasion of privacy the only thing it's good for is an email trashcan.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As I mentioned, over 300 million use Gmail. Do you have some specific information about this Gmail privacy issue? (Before you answer, read this:

Posted by:

Lee McIntyre
22 Feb 2013

Thanks, Bob. I'm an old codger (anyone out there remember what a "floor sort" is? ... It's when you drop a whole tray of 80-column punch cards, which nobody uses anymore), and yet you never cease to deliver up fresh new information. Boomerang looks very promising, and I want to thank BrianR for the recommendation as well.

Just for old times' sake, I went back yesterday and read your very first few Tourbus articles from 1995. Gosh, almost nothing in them even applies to modern computing. THAT'S how long you've been at this! Thanks for your faithfulness.

Posted by:

22 Feb 2013

AOL has a new service called Alto that can manage your Yahoo, Gmail, AOL mail and iCloud accounts in one place. You can organize your mail into "stacks."

I've been playing with it, and it works well for me. Contacts are not organized well, however. It's just a list of every email from the "To" and "From" fields in all your emails. You can organize them into stacks as well, but I haven't messed with that yet.

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