Did you know GMail has its own little app store? Ok, so it’s not really a store. And they aren’t called apps. But there are lots of free little add-ons for Firefox and Chrome that inject handy new features into GMail. I’ve tested two recently that are among the most useful I’ve seen. The first, Boomerang, lets you schedule messages to be sent later. That seems like such a simple idea that I wonder why it’s never been a standard GMail feature.
Micromanage Your Email
Once you’ve installed the little Boomerang add-on, a little “Send Later” button shows up whenever you’re composing an email. Click it and you’re presented with a series of options (send in an hour, tomorrow morning, at a time you specify, etc.). Whenever you’re ready to send a message, Boomerang lets you decide exactly when it should show up in your recipient’s inbox. Just because you like to respond to work email at 3 a.m. doesn’t mean your colleagues have to know your personal sleep schedule, right?
What’s It Useful For?
Given that almost 250 billion email messages are sent every day, many of which get lost in the deluge, Boomerang is handy for making sure your messages arrive when you want them to. You can use it to make sure a note to your boss shows up at 8 a.m. in her inbox tomorrow morning. Or to deliver a birthday message to a friend while you’re away on a camping retreat. Just hit Send Later and your message is queued up and delivered at the golden hour. In my tests it worked smoothly.
Just one small detail wasn’t to my liking: the default time applied when I clicked “Send Tomorrow Morning,” was 9:30am, instead of 8 or 8:30am, which I would have preferred. Elsewhere on the Send Later button’s drop-down option list, Boomerang lets you specify an exact sending time, so being able to customize the other default sending options isn’t crucial.
The other cool new add-on I’ve adopted recently is called Rapportive. Once installed, it provides info next to your email messages about their senders. Open a message and in the space to the right of the message usually reserved for ads, you’ll now see links and bio info about that message’s sender. What you see depends on what the sender has made public on the Web. In some cases, you’ll see a friend’s profile social network profile picture, recent tweets, and links to their content on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
The nice thing is that the add-on, like Boomerang, works right within GMail. No fussing with settings required. To use it, you don’t have to open up a desktop app or visit another site. It’s simple and seamless. In my tests, it worked well, though for some senders, no information was displayed.
The one feature Google itself has refined recently that I find particularly useful is the Undo Send function. As soon as you add it (from the Gmail>Settings menu), you’ll be able to pull an email back to correct a mistake. You can set it to give you cushion time ranging from five to 30 seconds after you hit the send button. If your harried messages are error-ridden, Undo Send will reduce the number of typo-infested messages. It will also help you pull back notes with missing attachments or half-finished sentences. If you’ve ever berated yourself for releasing an email prematurely, you’ll recognize why this feature is invaluable. Now you can turn back time and fix the mistakes that were once too late to address.