In so many industries today – especially startups and small businesses – cloud-based tools are the crux of professional life. Whether it’s CRM, project management, or simply email, we live our work lives in the cloud.
The cloud, however, is both a blessing and a curse. Those who have turned their digital lives over to cloud-based products benefit from more accesible and collaborative project flows. On the other hand, learning how to use those tools can be overly time consuming. Even one of the most popular cloud-based email platforms – Gmail – can be confusing or counter-productive if it isn’t used the right way.
Fortunately, Gmail has a host of extra features to help streamline email use. What’s more, there are constantly new extensions in development for Gmail, so you’ll never be at a loss for new gadgets to boost your productivity on Gmail. Here’s a selection of the 7 best Gmail productivity extensions.
What it is: This tool sends you reminders for emails that you need to follow up on and threads that you need to close. Simply Bcc or Cc to the Followup.cc email address you are provided, and the service will send you a reminder for that email for a certain time period that you indicate. Followup.cc uses specific email addresses for the date or time when you want a reminder. So, by typing “email@example.com” in the Bcc or Cc field, you’ll get a followup email from the service in one week. When you sign up for Followup.cc, you’ll have the option to download a list of contacts from the service, which are set intervals of time, such as one week, one day, or one hour. Upload those contacts to Gmail, and when you type “1w” or “1d” into the Bcc or Cc field on a new email, you’ll see that contact for Followup.cc show up: you’ll be reminded with a followup email on that thread for the time period to indicate. On the service’s website, you can see a calendar of all the followups you’ve added.
Why you’d use it: Followup.cc is a great tool to help you never forget to respond or followup on emails. Use it for threads you need to check the progress of, or for emails that you want to follow up on.
What it is: Boomerang is a tool that sends you reminders about emails you need to follow up on, or lets you send emails automatically at a later time. As you send an email, you can tell Boomerang to send the email back to your inbox in a few days, reminding you that you need to follow up with that thread. Or, you can tell Boomerang to send an email for you the next day, or a later time.
Why you’d use it: Use Boomerang to remind yourself about following up on emails or sending emails in the future. You can also set Boomerang to send the email to your inbox only if the recipient doesn’t respond. Boomerang can also help if you want to schedule emails to be sent later: indicate the time and date you want Boomerang to send the email, and it will go out when you want it to.
Email forwarding to evernote
What it is: Email forwarding in Gmail allows you to send an email to a specified address; using Gmail filters, you can then tell Gmail to only forward certain emails to your forwarding address. To set up email forwarding to an Evernote notebook, you’ll first need to get your Evernote notebook email address. Then, add the email address to your possible forwarding contacts in Gmail. Finally, create a filter that forwards emails to your Evernote address when those emails have a certain label attached to them. This way, you can automatically send specific emails to your Evernote notebooks for storage.
Why you’d use it: Google alerts are very helpful in monitoring activity online, such as mentions of your brand in blog posts or news articles. But Google Alerts tend to get lost in the number of emails you receive throughout the day if they are sent at a regular interval. Use this email forwarding to evernote to send emails labeled “Google Alerts” to your Evernote notebook: that way, you can check your Google Alerts whenever you want, without them flooding your email inbox.
IFTTT to Gmail
What it is: IFTTT stands for “If This Then That.” Its name stands for the formula that the tool uses to let you build automated tasks between two websites. In other words, if something happens on one website, you can build a formula with IFTTT to trigger an action on another website. Connecting IFTTT to your Gmail account opens up a whole world of automated actions through which you can filter information.
Why you’d use it: Add an RSS feed into the “this” channel of an IFTTT recipe and have the trigger search for a keyword in the RSS feed. Then, add a Gmail address to the action, so you get an email each time something in the RSS feed matches the keyword.
What it is: Rapportive is a Gmail tool that allows you to see detailed information about your contacts. When you type a recipient’s email address into Gmail, that person’s social media information – based on data from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others – is pulled into the right hand sidebar. Similarly, when you receive an email on Gmail, you’ll see the sender’s information displayed when you open the email.
Why you’d use it: Rapportive allows you not only to understand who the person is that you’re contacting, but gives you multiple other channels through which you can contact that person as well. Once you connect Rapportive to your social media channels, you’ll be able to contact anyone through those channels and interact with them right from Gmail.
What it is: Smartr allows you to see all the social media activity of your contacts in one place. The tool started out as an iPhone app that integrated your contacts’ social media information alongside their telephone number and email listed in your phone. Now, you can get the same service for Gmail. Like Rapportive, Smartr integrates your social media presences into your email account.
Why you’d use it: With Smartr, you can stay up to date with your contacts’ social media updates alongside your email. Use Smartr to understand more about the person you are emailing if you’re doing outreach, or connect with people you already know on social networks.
What it is: Attachments.me is a Gmail extension that helps manage the attachments sent to you via email. It easily integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive and Box.net to provide hosting services for any attachments that arrive in your inbox. You can set up rules that tell Attachments.me to send all attachments from specific email addresses or messages with certain keywords to a folder on the hosting service you use. If you don’t set up rules to automatically push attachments to cloud-based folders, you can choose to add it to a folder from the sidebar manually.
Why you’d use it: Anyone who receives emails with many attachments from co-workers or clients throughout the day can use Attachments.me to streamline their file management. Instead of constantly going back and forth between email and file folder, Attachments.me makes sure email attachments sent to you are always in the right place where you can find them.