Tagged With email apps

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.


The basics of how email works hasn't changed much since its invention, but even forty years later, there are still tiny features and enhancements that can make dealing with large volumes of email easier. Your email client already provides message attachments, filtering, HTML email, auto-fill contacts, spell-checking, folders or labels, keyboard shortcuts, search, and an advanced spam filter. What else do you need? Well, as people rely on email as a primary means of communication, and everyday users deal with a mounting level of new messages per day, even more advanced features can help all of us keep our inbox under control. In honour of Mozilla Thunderbird 3's latest alpha release, let's take a look at some email innovations—some concept, some already available in various clients and plug-ins—that you want in your inbox.


We first took a look at Chandler, the open-source, cross-platform personal information manager back in December, when it was still in somewhat rough shape. Now the email-centric task manager and organiser has hit its official 1.0 release, and it's looking a lot better, if still not intuitive when you first open it. The app can connect to, synchronise, and manage a lot of different data types—email, calendars, notes, and appointments—and puts it all in a very GTD-like list in the "Dashboard." Chandler said it had synced up to my Gmail account through IMAP, but I'm still waiting to see the folders it's supposed to create in there. There are lots and lots of menus and sub-menus to dig through, so for the time being, we'll just say it's worth checking out and exploring. Chandler is a free download for Windows, Mac (PPC and Intel), and Linux systems.

Chandler Project


The latest version of the free, open-source email manager, Thunderbird, is in the wild—in an alpha release rough enough around the edges to earn the code-name "Shredder." It doesn't have all the features promised for Thunderbird 3 yet, but you can see where it's headed. I installed "Shredder" in Windows XP, and I'll show you what's there, and explain what's coming soon, after the jump.


Once upon a time, gigabytes of storage space and message labels and IMAP access in web-based email was unheard of—until Gmail raised the industry bar and user expectations of what you get with your free webmail account. But now that we're all used to Gmail's goodness, it's time to cast a critical eye at the little niggly things that are missing from Gmail's web client. This week I spent two hours wrestling two Gmail accounts to the ground trying to hack together a filtered auto-response that only goes to certain annoying senders. (The approach worked for Adam back in the day, but it was a no-go for me.) The futile exercise made me think of just a few features I wish Gmail had built-in, but doesn't. Namely:


When you send out that email request you're waiting to hear back about, you can automatically shuttle it into a "Waiting For" folder with the right outgoing rule. Microsoft Outlook expert Taco Oosterkamp recommends adding a unique and unnoticeable notation at the end of any email you're waiting on (he uses in the body to your Waiting For folder. Hit the link for a step by step tutorial on setting it up in Outlook; seems like an easy thing to replicate in other clients that support saved searches (like Thunderbird or even Gmail).


Windows only: Previously mentioned Microsoft Outlook plug-in Xobni (pronounced "zob-nee") is now available to the public for immediate download. Previously in invite-only beta, Xobni adds email analytics, better contact cards, fast search, threaded conversations, and more to your Outlook inbox. The NY Times explains one way Xobni makes your inbox more of a social network of connected contacts:

Xobni recognises that if an executive sends a copy to someone else on each message he or she sends, it might be to an assistant or another colleague. When someone using Xobni searches for that executive in Outlook, the second person is listed as well.

Huh-wha, you ask? Here, have a video demonstration of Xobni in action.


Make it seem like you're sending email when you're really playing hooky with Outlook's built-in "defer delivery" rule. Tech blogger Dennis O'Reilly runs down how to set up Outlook to delay sending messages for a certain amount of time (like half an hour) automatically. You can also set individual messages to be sent on certain days at certain times in Outlook—good for scheduling future messages ahead of time.

Delay the messages you send from Microsoft Outlook


Microsoft Outlook is the company-issued email client at your place of employment, so like it or not, it's up to you to figure out how to manage your inbox, calendar, and task list every day using it. To make things worse, if you're in IT lockdown without administrator rights to your PC, you can't install special add-ons or software to help your cause. Luckily there are install-free ways to customise Outlook, add keyboard shortcuts, and get your inbox down to zero messages painlessly with a few tweaks to your setup.


The first message one could consider email was sent more than 30 years ago, and that's probably when people began associating angst and uncertainty with the words "Inbox" and "unread messages." The tools available to read and send emails have advanced considerably since then, but what you actually do with all that chatter, without eating up entire days of work time, is up to you. Luckily, we've covered a wealth of filtering and processing methods and software tweaks that make email less stressful and time-consuming over the years, and a list of our top 10 productive email boosters is after the jump.


Managing the daily onslaught of incoming email with filing systems, keyboard shortcuts, and batch processing will only get you so far. When a flurry of new email snows you in within an hour of every inbox sweep, it's time to dig in and get to the source of your email traffic. You've accumulated a sizable email archive over the years, and a new breed of analysis tool can extract meaningful statistics from that data to help you conquer email overload. Who sent you the most email messages last year? What hour of the day do you receive the most new messages? Which of all the mailing lists you're on are the most active? A new command line tool called Mail Trends works with Gmail over IMAP and can give you all that information and more.