Timing is everything. Sometimes you’re at your most productive at 2am, but you don’t want clients or colleagues to receive the many emails you’re manically churning out until a sensible time in the morning.
Sometimes you need a nudge at precisely the right moment to chase up an email you never received a reply from, or a reminder that you promised to Skype someone in an hour’s time.
There are lots of apps on the market to help you track, schedule and remind you, but the beauty of Boomerang – currently only available as an add-on for both Gmail and Outlook (I tested the Gmail version) – is its simplicity. You barely need to set aside a minute to get to grips with it.
All the extension does is add a few extra buttons to the “compose” window of your account. Underneath “Send”, there’s now “Send Later”, which allows you to pick the appropriate time for your email to go out.
There’s also a checkbox you can click to return the email to your own inbox after a set amount of time has elapsed, and you can specify that you only want the reminder if you haven’t received a reply.
When you click on a message in your inbox, there is also a new icon on the top right-hand side of the page, which allows you to “boomerang” emails you’ve received back to the top of your inbox in a similar way. You can pick a date and time, and you can specify if you only want to see the message again if no one has responded to it.
My favourite thing about this is that if you talk about a time and date in your email, Boomerang will automatically suggest bumping this email back up to the top of your inbox beforehand – extremely handy for emails like flight confirmations, for example, that you don’t need to see again until you’re about to leave for the airport.
It works best for “inbox zero” obsessives who like to keep their inbox clear of all messages apart from those that need imminent attention. However, read receipts aren’t 100 per cent reliable for reasons that are out of Boomerang’s hands, but it’s a simple, solid piece of software, with many fans in the tech industry.
How do I download the app?
It is currently available as an extension for Safari, Chrome and Firefox, and there is an Android mobile app, with an iOS launch being planned for the future.
What does the free version of the app get you?
You can only apply the extension’s functions to 10 emails per month. These include the “send later” button, boomerang reminders, read receipts and click tracking – these last two notify you if your email has been read or if links contained within it have been opened by the recipient. And you can bounce an email back into your inbox if either of these haven’t happened.
Any other nifty functions?
A recent update includes a smart menu that puts the message schedules you most often use (such as delay sending email until 8am or boomerang an email back in a week) at the top.
So what do I get if pay for the app?
There are several tiers of paid upgrades that all allow you to apply Boomerang’s services to an unlimited number of messages. For US$4.99 a month, you can also attach reminder notes to boomeranged emails and get mobile access. For $14.99 each month, you get all this as well as the ability to send recurring messages at set intervals. The $49.99 Premium version integrates with Salesforce (a customer relationship management service), comes with premium support, allows extra options including a folder for emails awaiting a response and will let you switch on a default setting to track all the emails you send.
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