Tools and Skills

5 of the Best Apps and Tech for Managing Email

Don’t you dare CC me.

Message in a Bottleneck

When Slack and its cohorts launched, they were hailed as email killers by tech media. Those same publications are now tempering their enthusiasm. It looks like email is here to stay.

“Built for instant communication, chat is great for just that—dealing with emergencies such as a server that goes down,” Sean Captain wrote in a recent Fast Company article. “It’s not good for ongoing conversations where important decisions may be made, without input from some people who are too busy working to constantly watch Slack discussions.”

He also noted that his publication had written a piece titled Flickr Cofounders Launch Slack, an Email Killer when the app launched.

Two things are certain: we get too many messages, and there are plenty of times when we still need to email. Thankfully a new crop of tools and apps has sprung up for managing email overload.

For the Mobile Reader

Reading email on your phone can quickly turn into endless scrolling, thanks, in part to unnecessary info from previous messages like signatures, subject lines, and the old “sent from my iPhone”. MailTime strips down email to the essentials and displays them in a chat-like interface.

The app also encourages users to send to-the-point messages by alerting them when an email goes over 500 characters. MailTime will let users send the email anyway, but chances are it will shame most into editing down.

For the Inbox User

The Smart Reply feature for Inbox suggests up to three quick email responses based on each message you received. A meeting invite might elicit the options “Yes, I’d love to,” “Yes, sounds great,” or “No, sorry.” Selecting one of the responses starts the reply, which users can edit and then send. The feature is similar to default replies available on the Apple Watch.

smart-reply-on-the-webImage Courtesy Google

For the Outlook User

Send, a mobile app from Microsoft, offers Office 365 business and school email account holders the ability to send quick emails that feel more like texts. “No subject lines, salutations, or signatures. Just quick, natural conversations,” according to the company. “While tools like text messaging and IM are great for short messages, you often don’t have your co-worker’s cell phone number or an IM app on your work phone.”

The inbox for Send is limited to messages started in the app, which could be a good or bad thing. But all messages sent on Send also live in your inbox, so users can jump from phone to web browser or computer.

For the Email Sorter

Do you obsessively sort and label your emails? Sortd can help, if you’re a Gmail user. The app and browser plugin allows users to catalog emails into easily viewed visual columns, like one for emails waiting for a response or another for emails that correspond to a certain project.

sortedImage Courtesy Sortd

By sliding an email into the appropriate column, Sortd can also create a to-do list based on email subject lines. LifeHacker’s Melanie Pinola likened it to “life-organizing web app Trello, but for email.”

For the Friend Group

Email’s not dead, particularly at work, but a no-email policy might be something to consider with your friends. Groupme, a souped-up text message app is right for that friend group who emails regularly to make plans or share news. “At its core, we were solving a very simple problem which was a pain point for both of us: how do we manage and stay in touch with our IRL groups of friends?” GroupMe co-founder Jared Hecht wrote in TechCrunch.

Got a friend who refuses to download another app? He’ll still get the texts, but not the cool features, which include “liking” messages, a gallery of all photos sent in the chat, and the access to “Split,” a way for users to divide expenditures.

Email zero is almost in sight.