Gmail is great. It comes with lots of unique features that put other email clients to shame, and has even more under the hood if you look through the experimental Gmail labs. However, if you spend some time in the Chrome Web Store, you can quickly find a plethora of other apps and extensions for Gmail. What follows are ten of the best.
1. Gmail Offline – If you don’t install any others on this list, try this one. It lets you access your Gmail offline. You can read your Gmail offline, and reply to emails too. Once you get back online, everything will sync up and and emails you wrote when offline will send to your recipients. For the most part it works very well, although the interface is different from the standard Gmail site. So, the next time you get stranded without Wi-Fi or access to the internet, fire up Gmail offline and get productive.
2. Send from Gmail – I use my iPad a lot. One of the things I love about it, is the ability to quickly share a link with others right from inside the browser. On my laptop, I could do that in Safari, but as a Chrome user, I used to have to copy the link, go back to Gmail, compose a new email, and paste the link in. You can avoid all that with Send from Gmail. Simply click the extension button and a new Gmail email will open with the subject line filled in, and the link of the site added to the body of the email. It works great. My only small criticism of it is that for some reason it does not add my default signature to the email. If anyone has found a way to fix that, please let me know!
3. Checker Plus – I love this extension, because it does a multitude of things. Ever clicked on an email link and had it open Outlook or some other desktop email client? This fixes that. It also notifies you of incoming mail with a chime of your choice, and a desktop notification if you want it. You can even have a voice notification read your incoming mail to you! Clicking the extension’s button in your toolbar lets you quickly preview your mail without changing tabs, and allows you to delete or archive mail too. So, it is very handy, and something I could not soon live without.
4. Add to Wunderlist – I am a big Wunderlist user, and I have written about that in the past. The Add to Wunderlist extension is great for me because it integrates seamlessly with Gmail. I used to use my inbox as a secondary to do list, but no more. This extension allows you to turn emails into tasks so that you can have all your important things to do on one master list. Simply click the Add to Winderlist button and you can choose which list you want to add that important email to. Next, delete, or archive the email as you work your way towards inbox zero.
5. Rapportive – This is a relatively recent addition to my Gmail, but one that grew on me quickly. When you use the rapportive Gmail extension, you get a customized bio of the sender of every email you get right next to the email when you open it. Ever wondered who this person is that emailed you, and how they know you? This can help. It pulls from LinkedIn and other social networks to give you a social profile of senders, so it is great for reminding you about who is sending you those important emails. It also has a notes section that lets you add your own private comments about each person in case you need to add some additional information about previous contact you have had with them.
6. Screenleap – Need a quick and easy way to share your screen with others? Well you could start a Google Hangout, and share your screen, but this is arguably quicker and gives you the ability to share with others who dont even have a Google account. Simply click the Screenleap icon in your Gmail, and it will generate a link for your sender to click on. Once they click it, you can instantly share your screen. This could be great for demonstrating how to do something on a computer or for troubleshooting someone else.
7. Cloudy – Gmail has a great attachment tool. It even lets you browse through your Drive to find the files you want. However, Cloudy takes this one step further. It links with Dropbox, Box, and Skydrive. You can browse your Picasa and Flickr accounts, or take a picture or video with your webcam and add that straight to your email. You can search the web for an image or look through your Facebook and Evernote accounts for the file you need. You can even search through your Gmail to grab an attachment from another email. I love the flexibility it gives me for attachments.
8. Smartr – If Cloudy is the ultimate attachment tool, then Smartr might be the ultimate contacts app. It does all kinds of clever things like keeping a track of all the email conversations you have had with the person you are emailing. They sit there in a sidebar as you type the email so you can have them for reference. You can view your contacts Facebook and Twitter activity, even if you don’t follow them. The common contacts tab is a useful way to find people you have in common with others, and the search tool will quickly search through all your contacts from a number of services.
9. KeyRocket – Ok. Time to get your geek on. Gmail has a ton of keyboard shortcuts, but remembering what they are, is another matter altogether. That’s where KeyRocket comes in. It helps you learn what they are. Everytime you perform an action in Gmail that has a keyboard shortcut, (say composing a new email), a popup tells you what the keyboard shortcut is for that action. For some, this may get annoying pretty quickly, but for me there is no better way to train your brain for the multitude of keyboard shortcuts that there are. Just remember to turn on keyboard shortcuts in Gmail’s settings if you want to try some our for yourself.
10. Gmelius – If the stock Gmail user interface is not to your liking, Gmelius may be just what you have been looking for. It lets you tweak a number of different things to make your Gmail experience more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, it will block ads from public Gmail accounts. You can also replace the paperclip attachment icon in your inbox with Google or Microsoft equivalents so that you know at a glance what type of attachment is in that email. You can auto-hide or toggle the header (including the search bar) to get more room, and lose the footer too. You can even lose scroll bars if your mouse and trackpad is all you need. So, check it out if this sounds like the kind of tweaking you like to do. It is a popular app with those who like to tinker.
Do you have a favorite Gmail app or extension? Feel free to share it in the comments below.