Let’s face it, despite the younger generation’s disdain for email (too “prehistoric” according to my son), it is still a vitally important component of business communication today. Whether or not email will ever go the way of the fax machine and be relegated to “non-essential” is yet to be seen. In the meantime, dealing with email is a necessary evil. Here’s five tools that will make email a little easier: from faster filing, blazing fast search, rich contact management to scheduled sending and email reminders, these are a few email tools that will actually help you enjoy email and take some of the drudgery out of it.
What: Lookeen E-Mail Search
Platform: Outlook Plug-In
This is an extraordinary search plug-in for Outlook that is so blazingly fast that it will make your head spin. It can index over 100GB of emails and simultaneously search emails, attachments, documents, appointments, tasks, notes and even document folders. Finding that needle in a haystack has never been easier. The toolbar sits unobtrusively waiting for a search within Outlook. Once a search term in entered, the Lookeen window opens with the results. Infinite options are available for drill-down searching and narrowing to specific fields. This is hard core search at it’s best!
Lookeen can also wait patiently in your system tray so you can fire up a quick search without having to open Outlook. Likewise, with the ability to add document folders and desktop search, it becomes the most powerful way to search for documents and items on my local machine that I have ever encountered. While Google Desktop Search used to be a reasonable solution, Lookeen is far more powerful, nimble and customizable.
Cost: Lookeen is available in a few different versions depending if you want enterprise wide search or just local search. If you are a single user and just wishing to index and search your own emails and local machine, there is a one-time cost of approximately $40. Contrast this with Xobni which charges an annual license fee of approximately $50. This is $40 well spent and you can get a fully functional 14-day trial here to check out what an amazing plug-in this is.
What: Boomerang for GMail; Scheduled sending and reminders
Platform: G-Mail if it isn’t obvious. Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
For some people, the best way to manage email is keeping the elusive ”inbox zero.” Even if this is not your thing, it is easy to have an email get pushed to the depths of your inbox where they can easily be forgotten about. Need a reminder and don’t feel like making a calendar entry? Boomerang it! With this stunningly simple GMail extension, you can easily have your message “boomeranged” back to you at a designated time. Conveniently, Boomerang will offer up a suggestion based upon the message contents but you can manually change it to anytime you want.
[Boomerang for GMail]
For example, I received an email today that Kodak Gallery is migrating to Shutterfly but that existing projects will be deleted on July 2nd. When I go to the message, I see that Boomerang prompts if I want to have this come back to my inbox the day before July 2nd. A pull down menu offers several other options (like the “week before”) keyed off of that date. Hitting the Boomerang button next to the MORE button, allows me to pick any day and anytime I want. (Even a “Random Time”!)
Another great feature is being able to schedule sending emails. Composing an email also calls up a Boomerang button. This one allows your message to be sent at a specific time. This is useful for such things as sending Birthday wishes when you are thinking about them, appointment reminders at convenient times for recipient, and any other time where when an email is delivered is important but you want to compose and send in advance.
[Scheduled Sending with Boomerang]
Cost: Free service allows for 10 message credits per month. However, when you refer people you can earn additional credits. Why not use my referral link and earn some credits for both you and me? You can also enjoy much of the same functionality of Boomerang for free by playing the Email Game. If you find yourself utilizing more message credits per month, a personal account is $5/month and allows for unlimited messages.
What: Smartr Inbox for Gmail
Platform: GMail. Firefox, Chrome and Safari
Smartr Inbox for Gmail is an awesome Google Chrome extension which automatically collects info on all your contacts and blends it all together into a deeply detailed “virtual Rolodex”. When clicking on an email or searching for a contact, you can get details like phone numbers, pictures of your contact, message history, and tons of other data. For example, Smartr will show when you first exchanged emails together, how many emails you’ve exchanged, and people you have in common. It is, like Lookeen, blazing fast and feature rich.
GMail does offer some similar functionality in its People Widget, however it is extremely limited in its features and very basic. Smartr will replace that panel and resides to the right of your GMail window. Let’s say I want to find contact info for Scott, who is the editor of this fine blog Hidden Track, but I can’t recall his last name. I can simply enter “Scott” in the search panel, and every contact will instantly be displayed (literally: it takes zero time).
The real magic though is not simply finding an email contact but rather all the rich info that is extrapolated automatically. For example, I find Scott whom I was just searching for. Clicking his entry gives me a wealth of information. There are four tabs where I can look at all past emails, recent emails, people in common (who were on same emails), statistics, alternate email addresses for contact, Facebook status updates, recent tweets, LinkedIn profile, and other information. It is a wealth of information that let’s you find and search past emails for exactly what you are looking for and helps you better understand who you are communicating with for new contacts. Remember, all this information is automatically extracted, you do not need to create new contacts for everyone. Auto suggest when composing emails is also much more feature rich with the addition of more contacts than GMail would typically display as well as contact photos to ensure you are emailing the correct person.
[Smartr Search Results]
Cost: Basic is free, if you want to link your GMail contacts with Outlook and have some additional functionality, a subscription to Xobni is required.
Platform: Outlook Add-On
Half the hassle with managing my Outlook inbox is filing emails into appropriate folders. I have literally hundreds of folders and many are nested under several other folders. So constantly expanding folders and finding the correct one is a cumbersome process. Even clicking and dragging can be a nuisance as releasing the mouse button a few pixels away from the correct folder can accidentally file in the wrong folder. SpeedFiler not only makes filing emails a painless and fast process, but it also can figure out where you plan on filing it and auto-suggest an appropriate folder making the process “one-click”. SpeedFiler also works when sending a message. So you can easily assign a folder for a message rather than all sent messages getting dumped into default “Sent Items”.
The beauty of SpeedFiler is the fact that it eliminates the need to navigate folder hierarchies. When searching for the folder to file a message in, simply typing a couple letters calls up all the available matches if the auto-suggested match is not accurate. In the example below, I received an email from someone that I have been doing business with in Vancouver and have several messages in the folder with him. SpeedFiler has suggested my folder “Vancouver”. I can simply click this button and the message is moved from my Inbox to the appropriate folder. If that hadn’t been correct, I can simply click “File In” and start typing a couple letters of folder name. All matches will instantly be shown.
When sending messages, you have the option of adding messages to an existing folder, new folder that you create, or just the default Sent folder. This is useful for people that use folders such as “Waiting for Response”. All your sent messages that need a response are conveniently and easily filed away for quick review.
SpeedFiler of course works not only from the Inbox but also adds a toolbar ribbon button from the message window itself. Once you start using SpeedFiler, you will be absolutely perplexed at how you lived without it for so long.
Seriously, coupled with Lookeen, and being able to quickly and accurately file everything to begin with, you will be an Outlook black belt Ninja if you use both these fantastic add-ons.
Cost: Free trial. $24.95 personal license. $39.95 professional license.
That’s four! What’s the fifth? Another quick plug for Unroll.me which I wrote about several weeks ago. Sorry! Still in beta and I gave out all my 50 invites. However, read about it and sign-up now. My Inbox has become so much more manageable since I started using Unroll.me and I simply love getting the daily roll-up every morning.
Lookeen: Blazingly fast search for Outlook that is able to index emails, documents, tasks, notes and local folders.
Boomerang for GMail: Easily schedule emails to return to your inbox and be sent at a particular time.
Smartr: Contact management for GMail with detailed info on all your contacts automatically culled from messages and social networks.
SpeedFiler: Outlook add-on to easily file messages into appropriate folders and quickly access desired folder
UnrollMe: Email management tool currently offered for GMail that helps eliminate unwanted subscriptions.
So what’s your indispensable email tool? Let us know.
Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
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