Making Email more useful

Email is essential for most of us today, but like the phone and snail mail before, it comes with its own set of drawbacks. Luckily, developers never sit still, and there are a number of interesting and free email solutions around.

If you’re unlucky enough to use Outlook, I can sympathize. It’s search is awful, it looks cluttered and losing important messages is easy if you’re not careful. A great way to vastly improve Outlook so it’s almost enjoyable, is to install xobni. With no effort from you, you’ll have a fantastic, intuitive and helpful search, instantly find your contacts in LinkedIn or Facebook and get fun statistics (I know that sounds unlikely, just try it out!).

One way we fill up our inboxes with rubbish is by giving out our email address to sign up for stuff like activation codes, posting occasional comments in forums etc. For this we get unwanted newsletters, updates and ads sent to us. A great way to beat this is to use a service like Melt Mail. This gives you a temporary email address, which will melt after 3, 6, 12 or 24 hours, during which time any messages to the address will be forwarded to your ‘real’ address. I used to use an old Hotmail address for this purpose (Hotmail’s not much use for anything else), but temporary addresses feel like a safer solution.

Another trend with apps, online and off is aggregating your web-life in one place. Two cool examples of this recently are the Firefox add-on Yoono, and web app Zenbe. Yoono brings your Yahoo and Gmail together in a sidebar, and also syncs with Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. If you constantly have your web-life opened in Firefox tabs, this can be a real space saver, and the pop up notices are cool too. ZenBe does a similar thing, but online. You can set up multiple POP emails to be forwarded into it, and read everything there. With a calendar and Facebook and Twitter integration, this is another neat way to streamline your internet use. I should add that ZenBe seem a bit overwhelmed with registrations at the moment, and took a few days to get back to me, but I do think it was worth the wait.

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