Lately, I’ve been using two Gmail tools that have made the experience even better. The first is a Gmail update called Priority Inbox, a service that sorts your inbox based on messages deemed most important (see video after the jump).
The second service is Rapportive and it is a browser plug-in you use alongside Gmail. If you’re heavily into social media — or want to know the social networks your contacts have joined — you’ll love this tool.
How Priority Inbox works
The gist behind this service is to sort your inbox by what’s most important. What’s more important to you: an email from your spouse, or the weekly newsletter you get that tracks your industry? Well, both probably matter but Priority Inbox will put your spouse’s message into a section titled “important” and the newsletter into “everything else.”
Important information goes to the top, while everything-else emails go in a section well below.
This snappy video nicely summarizes how Gmail’s Priority Inbox works
The decision is based on how frequently you open a message and how often you reply. Odds are good you will open your spouse’s message and reply more often than with that newsletter. Essentially, Gmail predicts what’s important to you based on how you’ve responded to similar messages in the past. The more you use Priority Inbox, the better it gets at making predictions. I love how it has been sorting messages for me.
Better, Priority Inbox helps you stay focused on work. How? Simple, all those newsletters, Facebook updates and other so-called Bcan messages you get now go straight to your “everything else” section and will not alert you that you have a message. You’ll see it when you check your inbox, avoiding the all-too-frequent distraction that comes when a message arrives in your inbox.
Key messages — the ones from your friends, clients or suppliers — will go straight into the “important and unread” section at the top of your inbox. You’ll be notified when those arrive. After you’ve read the message, it moves into the “important but read” section unless you elect to delete or put it into a folder.
Rapportive provides details
Rapportive is a different tool entirely, but one social media freaks must have. Once you download the Rapportive plug-in for your browser (Firefox, Safari and Chrome) and install into into your Gmail, you will be amazed at what you can learn about your contacts. (It only works with Gmail.)
It sits along the right side of your inbox to display a host of information about the person who sent the email. This includes links to their various online profiles — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and a few other places — plus biographical information, such as a current job title and past positions.
All this information is floating around on the Web and Rapportive brings it together in a simple display.
It will alarm you to, as it is a stark reminder of all the social nets you’ve joined — my wife forgot she joined Bebo. It may also make you think twice before joining another social network.
Frankly, Rapportive is a tool you may not want to tell your friends and contacts about. It’s like having an investigative kit right in your inbox.