InboxVudu & 4 More Tools That Will Expertly Manage Your Out-Of-Control Email Inbox

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Like many active emailers, I often forget when I need to respond to an email or follow up on one I've sent. (Yes, even if I "star" it in my inbox.) So when I first sought a solution with the new Google Chrome extension InboxVudu, which uses pop-up notifications and emails to remind its users to respond to messages, I was kind of skeptical. How would the extension know which of my emails truly required responses?

But after downloading InboxVudu and connecting it to my Gmail account, I was quickly surprised to find that it actually worked. (OK, with the exception of a few miscategorized messages, but I'm willing to let that slide.) Here's how it all went down: Every few days, I received an email with the subject line, "Here are [number] emails that need your attention." A few actually didn't — for example, one email with a blurb at the bottom reading, "PLEASE TAKE NOTICE: The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed" was inaccurately marked important because of "please take notice." But many of the rest, which often contained question marks or phrases like "let me know," really did require my attention. I also occasionally received pop-ups in the corner of my screen reminding me of important emails, but only if I was using Chrome.

Take a peek at what InboxVudu's emails look like (sans any identifying information, which I've blacked out):

The extension accurately categorized the above emails (the first in need of a response and the second in need of a follow-up) as "invites." Actually, looking back, it labeled all of my emails this way. Maybe I'm just extremely popular (totally likely), or maybe "invite" is a broad category. Either way, it's pretty impressive that InboxVudu usually brought the right messages to my attention.

Wondering how it all works? According to a representative from the company, it's built on Parakweet, a natural language processing (NLP) platform that helps computers decode human speech. More specifically, the technology is based on a sub-field of NLP called natural language understanding, or artificial reading comprehension.

In addition to its Chrome extension, InboxVudu also just launched a suite of iOS and Apple Watch apps to fit the growing market of people checking and sending emails on mobile devices. One cool feature the Apple Watch version provides is the shortening of emails to fit on the gadget's small screen. Take a look:

As futuristic as it may be, InboxVudu unfortunately can't solve every problem we encounter when checking and responding to emails. Here are a few more useful technologies that can help make your inbox a little less overwhelming.

1. Unroll.me

Remember that mailing list you signed up for by mistake three years ago? You probably do, because many of us don't get around to unsubscribing from every list we've signed up for. And when we do, there's often an entire survey waiting for us on the "unsubscribe" page, or worse, we have to log in to our accounts and change our email preferences. (I'm looking at you, Meetup.) Unroll.me alleviates these pains by letting users unsubscribe from all the email lists they want to at once. And it's worth a look yourself — after I downloaded the app, I found out I was on 91 lists! I was able to leave all but 16 in just a few short minutes, including all of those meetups I never even attended. It was almost too good to be true.

2. Boomerang

Boomerang on YouTube

If you need to follow up on an email but don't want to come off as obnoxious by bugging your recipient just a few hours later, Boomerang lets you schedule messages to be sent in the future with a "send later" button. That way, you can start checking off the items on your to-do list early. You can also set up reminders to follow up on emails that haven't received responses with Boomerang. Pretty genius.

3. MailTrack

Kristi Wobbema on YouTube

When deciding whether or not to follow up on emails, it can also help to know if they were opened in the first place. For example, if you send out a reminder about a meeting, MailTrack's green check marks can let you rest assured it was received so you don't follow up needlessly. On the other hand, if you've sent out a work email that wasn't opened, you'll know to ping that person again.

4. Dmail

The Tech Bulletin on YouTube

If you send an email you regret or simply fire one off with information you don't want floating around on the Interwebs, fear not. The Dmail Chrome extension lets you destroy an email after-the-fact or even schedule it to self-destruct in advance.

Pretty cool, huh? This all just goes to show that we're probably not all using Gmail to its fullest potential, but hey, there's no time like the present to start.

Images: Courtesy of InboxVudu