- 10 downloads to make Gmail do moreThere’s no better proof of an app’s popularity than add-ins that extend its power. Since Gmail is web-based, add-ins for web browsers can extend it in various ways. Free downloads can help you manage address books, maintain to-do lists and simplify mailing chores such as sending attachments.As Gmail has evolved, it has made many add-ins obsolete by incorporating their functions. Some simply no longer work properly. Here though are 10 tools that could still improve your Gmailing experience.
by Grant Buckler, Freelance Journalist
- Manage contact information and files
MailBrowser is an add-in that places a sidebar to the right of your Gmail screen in Internet Explorer or Firefox, showing information about the sender of an open e-mail or any contact you search for. You can see a list of unread e-mails from the person, e-mail threads and a chart of e-mail activity.MailBrowser also lets you search through attached files and shows you thumbnails of your attachments, making it quite a bit easier to find what you’re looking for. It works on Windows and Mac, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.MailBrowser
- Store files on GmailPart of what made Gmail popular is the huge storage capacity it offers users. So it was inevitable someone would think of using that space as overflow file storage. Gmail Drive works with major Windows browsers to turn your Gmail storage space into a virtual hard drive where you can keep any sort of file.The beauty of Gmail Drive is that it looks exactly like another hard drive. You can move a file there by dragging and dropping, open it by double-clicking. One issue: When you save a file to Gmail Drive, it shows up as an e-mail with attachment in your inbox. Besides creating inbox clutter, this could mean it gets sent to your smartphone, which could be either a nuisance or an easy way to get a file to your phone.
- Gmail file storage with additional twistsThe idea of storing files on Gmail has inspired more than one add-in. While Gmail Drive focuses on creating a virtual drive, GSpace – for Firefox on Windows, Mac and Linux – adds specific interfaces for pictures and music. GSpace lets you manipulate files much as Gmail Drive does, but also has a picture viewer mode that makes it easy to flip through photos, and a music mode that will play your tunes direct from Gmail. As with Gmail Drive, your files show up as attachments to e-mails in your inbox.GSpace
- View information about your contactsRapportive is an add-in for Firefox, Safari, Chrome and the Mac’s MailPlane Gmail client that replaces the advertising space at the right of your Gmail screen with information about your contacts. Open an e-mail, and Rapportive draws information about the sender from online sources like LinkedIn.The results vary. For some contacts you get a photo, company and title and list of the social networks the person is on. For some Rapportive can find nothing. You can always add your own notes, though. If you get e-mail from people you don’t know well but whose particulars are available online, it may be helpful.
- Mark messages to reappear later, and schedule sendingIs your inbox full of messages that have been sitting there for days because you must remember to deal with them but can’t yet? Boomerang lets you tell those e-mails to go away and come back tomorrow, next week or whenever you need to see them again.This add-in for Firefox and Chrome also lets you compose a message and then specify a later time to send it – handy if information mustn’t be given out until a certain time (or you just want to look like you’re working late when you’re not). Boomerang is still in beta.
- Get notification of new mailWebMail Notifier is a simple add-in for Firefox on Windows that does one thing: It notifies you when new mail arrives in your Gmail inbox or any other webmail inbox – and it can be set up to handle multiple accounts.The software places a small envelope icon in the lower right-hand corner of your Firefox window. Mouse over it to see the number of new messages in your inbox. When you get new mail, a pop-up appears in the corner of your screen.
- Encrypt your e-mailsGmail Encryption is a script that works with the Greasemonkey add-in for Firefox (which you must install before downloading Gmail Encryption). It lets you encrypt e-mails so they can’t be read except by someone who knows your private encryption key. It also lets others send you secure mail by using a public key that you can make available on a website or in other ways.Gmail Encryption
- Desktop videoconferencing within GmailHere’s an add-in from Google that will let you conduct a video chat with another Gmail user who also has the tool. Both of you need to have a webcam with its own or separate audio capabilities. It works with major browsers.The main limitation for general use is that not a lot of people have the add-in, so it can be like being the first person to own a telephone. But if you want to videoconference with a few coworkers or friends, this is one way to do it.
- Send links to web pages quicklyIf you send a lot of e-mails containing links to websites, Gmail This! could be a time-saver. You add it as a bookmark in your browser, and when you want to send a link to a page, just click the bookmark. Gmail opens in a new browser window with an e-mail containing your link. Just add the address you want to send to, and a comment if you wish, and send.Gmail This! also lets you highlight text in the page you’re sending to have that text appear in the body of the message.
- Manage contacts and be reminded of your e-mailsETacts offers contact management capabilities similar to MailBrowser and Rapportive, and it works with all the major browsers.The feature that caught our eye, though, is the option of setting a reminder when you send an e-mail. You can tell ETacts to remind you of the e-mail if you haven’t had a response in whatever number of days you choose. It’s a handy way to avoid letting something important slide even if someone else does.