Email can be an endless nightmare of stressful things to remember, keep track of and catch up on.
Become more productive and less stressed by adding these essential Gmail extensions for work.
1. Professional Email Signatures
A quality looking signature can be hugely important depending on your role, and Wisestamp is the best solution out there by quite a long way.
It costs (for a non-branded signature) but you do get great value for your $4 per month. It is a slick and painless three step process to get your professional looking signatures ready.
You can add social media links and pretty much everything else you’d want and they’ve got some great templates so you don’t need to worry about design. You can also save several signatures to use when you need them, all accessible from the send or reply box in Gmail.
Don’t want to pay for something so basic as a signature? There’s a simple free solution built right into Gmail and there’s also a solution to get on-demand multiple signatures thanks to canned responses.
2. Desktop Notifications
Checker Plus is a free Gmail notification extension and it’s absolutely brilliant. Packed with awesome features like do not disturb settings, options to delete or mark emails as read without even opening the email up, and it can also run in the background so you get notifications even when Gmail is closed.
Desktop notifications for emails can be hugely damaging for our productivity. But they are also very useful, especially if we have a role where a speedy response is often very important. Waiting till the post lunch inbox session might just not be an option.
Checker Plus really is the best Gmail notification service out there, though Gmail does offer a very basic service also that you can enable in Settings. This has no email preview though so you just see who’s sent you an email.
3. Inbox Management
Keeping on top of all your email at work is a constant struggle. ActiveInbox lets you turn all those important emails into tasks inside Gmail, track them with reminders and then act on them in a prioritised way. It takes the stress out of remembering to reply or follow up, and it speeds up your work as next tasks are summarised below the subject line so you don’t have to re-read.
“Each email can be turned into a task and assigned a due date, so you always know what needs to be done.
Similarly, when you are sending a new email, you can add a to-do list or other notes so you know what you have to do—your recipient won’t see this.
All of this information is neatly maintained in the ActiveInbox sidebar, with a list of all your projects and to-do lists.
You can group different emails into projects, and drag-and-drop to change the order of emails.
There is a lot of depth to this extension and the more you use it, the more features and tricks you will find to enhance your productivity.” (Mihir Patkar, makeuseof)
That depth? Well, how about scheduling emails to be sent later so that you can work anytime, get an overview of your deadlines by syncing reminders with Google Calendar, group and sort emails by deadline, status, project or contact.
ActiveInbox can be anything from a simple improvement on Gmail that helps you organise email better, to a lightweight CRM or project management system. Give a try for free.
4. Save Time with Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are not for the casual user. But when you use Gmail all day everyday at work, believe it or not this tiny change can start adding up a lot of saved time over the week.
You have to enable keyboard shortcuts first in Gmail’s settings. But after that the best way to start learning is by using KeyRocket. It reminds you what keys you need to press, inside the Gmail interface.
It is an essential helping hand to have if you are serious about starting to use keyboard shortcuts. Sure, they are super simple to learn (c for compose, r for reply, etc..), but remembering to actually use them is the hardest part. Muscle memory habits like using a mouse to navigate are some of the toughest habits to break. So those visual reminders from KeyRocket can make all the difference.
5. LinkedIn Lookup
Rapportive is still my go-to option for social profiling of new email contacts inside Gmail. Despite a spree of free new extensions providing ever more fancy and detailed social information for contacts inside Gmail, none I’ve tested give you the core information as reliably as the old workhorse Rapportive does. Most other extensions frequently show you a blank profile.
Acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, many lamented Rapportive’s apparent demise as it cut some features, but it is actually still as reliable and effective as ever for delivering that all important core information about a new contact – who they are and what they do.
If you are after broader company information, FullContact is your best bet. Meanwhile if you want this kind of information accessible on any webpage, Vibe App created by two awesome Indian developers works well.
6. Track open emails
Yesware is the most reliable of the email tracking services out there, and while we wouldn’t dispute that reasonably scientific finding by Phil Johnson, I’ve heard Yesware have recently had issues with this core feature. There are lots of other free options out there, but Yesware gives you 100 free tracked emails a month. Other free extensions to try are Mailtrack (unlimited) and Sidekick (200 a month).
More and more extensions are offering email tracking in Gmail, and while it can be a very useful feature for effective follow-ups it’s not exactly a business critical one for most of us unless we are in sales or outreach roles.
It is also very unreliable, mainly because opening an email to scan it doesn’t mean that they’ve read it properly and even if they have they may just archive or delete it immediately, or let it sit in their inbox and then lose track of it. So the you get a “success!” notification that they’ve opened your email. You sit back in relief, putting off sending a followup because you assume that they will now act on that email. But in reality, the email wasn’t properly read or has just gotten lost in their inbox. Which raises the question, how useful is open rate tracking in the first place?
7. Cut out the distraction of your Inbox
Batched Inbox does the opposite of Checker Plus by actually stopping emails from hitting your inbox as they arrive and delivering them all only at certain times of day which you can control.
This stops the constant stream of distraction that defines email in the modern world.
It’s a great solution if you are looking to cut out email distractions during the workday – and it’s free.
8. Analytics for your email habits
Want to find out exactly how much time you waste searching your inbox and re-reading old emails? Gmail Meter can tell you, and let you know when you start improving. It’s also free so definately worth checking out even as a curiosity!
9. Mail Merge in Gmail!
Lats but not least, mail merge is one of those functions that can be sometimes save a huge amount of time.
Yet Another Mail Merge is simple and free for 100 emails a day. It’s actually an extension for Google Sheets which is where you input all your mail merge details to a new spreadsheet and then send the emails using a draft you have prepared over in Gmail.
When you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be able to send out a mail merge in about 5 minutes. Awesome? Yep. The 100 emails a day limit is due to Google’s email sending limits. Anything bigger and it costs $24 per year.
It’s worth mentioning that if you are looking at email tracking also, Yesware gives you a slick and completely Gmail-based mail merge in its $240 p/a Team package which includes tracking and some other useful features. It is limited to 200 emails per day however for the same reasons as YAMM, which means it makes little sense to buy instead.
There are thousands of other extensions crowding out the Chrome Webstore but for using Gmail at work, the 9 extensions above are really the cream of the crop in terms of core business functionality.
Anything you think should have been included? Let us know in the comments!
This was written by Andy Mitchell