Since it debuted a decade ago, Gmail has become not just another email program, but a cultural force. It is the world's largest email service, and it has set the standard for what people expect in terms of ease of use and inbox size.
But that doesn't mean it can't be better.
A bunch of apps and plug-ins floating around the internet can make your experience using Gmail so much more enjoyable. With these amazing add-ons, you can see when people are tracking your emails, automatically know everything about people who email you, and send self-destructing emails. You can leverage the power of GIFs and even use Gmail as you would WhatsApp.
These 16 apps and plug-ins can help you both streamline your Gmail time and do things you didn't even know were possible. And special recognition to Product Hunt, which has featured many of these products. Read on to become a Gmail pro:
Sortd is a smart skin for Gmail that transforms your inbox into a set of lists you can customize to fit your workflow. You can change the list names, add as many as you please, and reorder them at will. Sortd is built around dragging and dropping, and tailoring your inbox to fit your needs is refreshingly simple.
You may not know, but there are now email-tracking tools that make it easy for people to see when you open an email, what you click, and where you're located. To fight these, the Ugly Email Chrome extension (on Firefox soon) shows you when your emails in Gmail are being tracked. And it starts working before you click anything. Once Ugly Email is installed, a tiny little eye symbol appears next to any email in your inbox that's being tracked.
This Chrome extension lets you see the social profiles and job titles of everyone who sends you emails. You can read through their tweets, check out their Instagram photos, and browse their Facebook updates. You can even get detailed information on their organizations — like location, size, and demographics.
And it works with Google Calendar as well, in case you want to brush up before a meeting.
Mixmax is a Chrome extension that is full of useful nuggets. It makes scheduling meetings easy by letting people select times within the email itself and tracking when someone has opened the message so you know when to bug them. It also saves you time with the ability to both schedule emails to be sent later and create one-click email templates.
This iPhone app automatically shows you Gmail conversations with real people only. The theory is that you can take care of things like newsletters when you are at your computer but that you don't want to miss an email from an actual person when you are on the go. In the app, you see conversations as chats like in WhatsApp, without things like "Show quoted text."
Unsubscriber for Gmail is an iPhone app with one simple premise: easily allowing you to unsubscribe from mailing lists and newsletters. Simply swipe left to unsubscribe, or swipe right to keep your subscription. Then you can delete unsubscribed emails with a single tap.
MailTrack.io is a Chrome extension that lets you know both when your email was sent (with one check mark), and when it was opened (with two check marks). Not only that, but MailTrack.io can tell you when someone has read your email even if the email itself was sent to multiple recipients. And for those who want real-time notifications, MailTrack.io has an option to have pop-up desktop alerts when someone opens one of your emails.
Snapmail is a Chrome extension that adds a button next to Gmail's "send" button that you can use to send self-destructing messages. The button encrypts your message and only sends someone a link to it. Once your recipient follows the link to the message, Snapmail informs the person that it will self-destruct in 60 seconds. And then it does. Right now, Snapmail encrypts only text content.
Gmail Offline lets you work in Gmail even when you have no internet connection. This is useful for when your connection is spotty or you don't want to waste your data by tethering to your phone but still want to draft some emails.
Giphy, the world's premier GIF-searching company, has a Chrome extension that puts the power of GIFs straight into your Gmail. If you install the extension, a little rainbow Giphy icon will pop up near your normal formatting icons. And this button will let you insert GIFs into your emails to your heart's content. Add a pinch of whismy to boring emails.
Dropbox for Gmail
Dropbox for Gmail is a Chrome extension that adds a Dropbox button to Gmail's "Compose." This makes it easy to send Dropbox share links in an email, and it allows you to bypass the process of attempting to email large files — and saves valuable space in your inbox.
Boomerang is a plug-in that works with Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. It has a lot of great tidbits, but perhaps the most useful is the ability to "send later." You just write a message as you normally would and then use either a calendar picker or a text box ("next Monday") to schedule when it will send. You can also set a reminder to yourself if you don't hear back so you know when to follow up.
Find Big Mail
If you find you are getting low on space in your Gmail, it's probably because you have a bunch of emails with big attachments cluttering up your inbox. Find Big Mail is a program that scans your account and helps you find the largest files in your inbox. Then it helps you delete them. Poof. In a second, you can cut down the size of your inbox by an insane amount.
WiseStamp is a Chrome extension that helps you customize your signature. You can choose fonts, size, color, and images — but you can also add in more exotic elements, like RSS feeds, and social services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
This Chrome extension is for anyone who has ever snorted in frustration after clicking on an email icon online only to have Apple's mail client pop up. With Send from Gmail, this will never happen again. It makes a Compose window in Gmail pop up whenever you click an email address on any webpage.
GrexIt is a Chrome extension that is great for collaborating with coworkers, or anyone else you are working on a project with. With shared labels, if you add a label to any email conversation in your inbox, it shows up in your colleagues' inboxes with that label attached. It's particularly good for sharing emails and keeping track of who has which assignment.