There are dozens of email apps out there. You can log into Gmail in your browser, Outlook on a PC, or Apple Mail on a Mac. But they each have their own way of managing your emails. Back in the day, when you downloaded a message, it only lived on the first device that saw it (POP). Today, the IMAP protocol allows you to view and manage messages on smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, and the cloud, all at the same time.
One of the unsung benefits is that you’re not beholden to just one technology to read, reply, and store email messages. You can now move smoothly back and forth between devices and apps. Take advantage of your favorite features. Here’s how, using Gmail and Macs for our example!
Mac Plugins: MailButler
If you’re a Mac user, Apple Mail is built in to your operating system, but it’s pretty basic. It’s great for home use but lacks the power for business. I discovered a program called MailButler that adds in a series of tools bringing power and flexibility to your email experience.
I work late at night, catching up on my email correspondence after my long day helping clients and getting my kids fed and to bed. I don’t like sending emails time stamped at 11:37pm, because it gives my clients permission to contact me after hours. MailButler’s Send Later schedules my messages for the date and time I want them delivered. I set my late-night messages for an 8:37am next-day arrival.
Have you ever pressed Send and then regretted it? MailButler offers the ability to Delay the Send for a few seconds after you pushed the button. It will also alert you if you forgot to attach your file.
Connect MailButler to online services like Evernote or Dropbox to save messages and attachments. This prevents essential information from getting lost in folders or from being accidentally deleted. Create your own information storage system.
Take advantage of your Mac’s built-in productivity apps and sync them to your Mail. MailButler saves information into your Mac’s Notes App with just a click. There’s also the option to set a Followup date and time, which will show up in your Reminders app.
You can even Pause your personal email during work hours to prevent distraction (or, pause your work email during your personal time if your boss doesn’t have any boundaries). Snooze, a new feature making its appearance in most email software, even hides an email to make it reappear at a more convenient time.
If you’re a Gmail user using Chrome, hopefully you have already discovered all its cool little plugins that make Google’s business email powerful and practical. If not, you’re in for a treat. Google provides a slew of extensions you can turn on to add features specific to your workflow.
Some of the plugins are similar to MailButler. Boomerang schedules future emails and reminds you if you don’t receive an answer. GmailSnooze temporarily removes emails from your Inbox and returns them again after an interval you specify.
Other extensions offer higher-end business tools. SecureGmail encrypts individual emails. ActiveInbox turns your email messages into a To-Do list. Bananatag tells your open rates and times for all emails, not just newsletters.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to Readdle’s brand-new Spark. I have 12 email addresses, and get at least 800 spams a day. I love this computer & smartphone app because it groups and filters my messages, showing me what’s important without cluttering my inbox with newsletters and junk. My unread messages stay at the top. My flagged messages are grouped together. I can focus on client activity without getting distracted by Facebook notifications.
The Best of All Worlds
If you’re on a Mac, sign in to your Gmail account through both Apple’s Mail app with MailButler and Spark. Because Gmail uses IMAP to sync messages between all your devices, you can move back-and-forth between your browser and your apps. This way you choose the interface with the tool you need, at the moment you need it.
I can’t use gmail.com as my default email because I have so many different addresses, only one of which is a gmail or Google Business account. I tried using Spark as my default email app, but I found that I couldn’t live without MailButler’s Send Later, Delay, and Attachment confirmation. It also is missing a few key features, like Mail’s Send Again, that I use to create one message and send it out to several clients with minor variations.
As a result, I keep both Apple Mail and Spark open. I use Spark to focus my attention on priorities, and use Mail with MailButler for ongoing activity. When I need to encrypt a message, I log into Gmail on my browser.
You may consider it overkill to use three email programs at once, but it gives me all the features of all the email programs all at one time.