How To Schedule An Email Reply

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How many people out there are still using AOL Mail? I assumed it was all of three people, but apparently there’s still a considerable number of you clinging to your aol.com accounts.

Do you hope AOL will make a grand resurgence one day? Are you nostalgic for the sounds of a dial-up modem? Do you hate Gmail? You can move providers; it’ll be OK.

This week we’re taking a look at a question that has its roots in AOL Mail, but is applicable to everyone who has ever felt that panic when they accidentally sent an email before it was ready (or typo-free).

Lifehacker reader Mike writes:

“AOL used to offer the ability to write an email and then delay its being sent. In other words, one could compose an email, but not have it be sent until a particular time on the following morning by which time said emailer would have committed the deed. Does AOL Mail still offer this feature? Do any other providers?”

Delayed (or scheduled) sending is one of the best features any email provider, web app, or mobile app can offer. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been rescued by Gmail’s built-in delayed sending feature (which you can set up here, under the “Undo Send” section).

When you enable it, Gmail adds an automatic delay of up to 30 seconds, which gives you a small window to undo your message if you suddenly realise you made a catastrophic mistake.

The problem with this feature — and I’m lumping the concept of “scheduled emails” in there as well, which allows you to set a specific time for when you want an email to go out—is that it all depends on what how you’re accessing a particular email service.

For example, Undo Send works perfectly in the web-based version of Gmail, but you can’t access this functionality if you’re using a Gmail app (at least, not when I wrote this column). The same is true for Outlook’s “delayed” and “scheduled” features — they work great in the desktop apps, not so much the online or mobile apps.

There are apps that come with delayed or scheduled sending built-in, and you should be able to use them to send and receive messages from most major email services. Try checking out Spark (for iOS) or MailDroid (for Android), which make it easy to schedule emails whenever you want.

You can also pick up a browser extension to enable this feature (or an even better version of it) for email services you already use. For example, Boomerang is an incredible extension for Gmail (or Outlook) that adds a lot more functionality beyond the simpler Undo Send feature — namely, email scheduling, rather than just a delay.

With luck, Google will eventually take this kind of a feature directly into Gmail, but for not, an extension is your best bet.


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