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Review: Inbox for Gmail

inbox by GmailI’ve been an advocate of “Inbox Zero” from the first time I heard about the concept. I’ve never been one of those people who had hundreds (or thousands) of unread emails, but I still prefer to keep on top of them as they come in. Checking email on my phone has become second nature, and I’m also one of those people who doesn’t mind checking as I go throughout the day. If I want to be undisturbed, I just close my browser and put my phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode.

That said, when I hear of new ways to process email more effectively, I’m interested, and when I heard about Inbox for Gmail, I was intrigued. Gmail is already good. How could Inbox be better? Well, it is better, in all ways but one.

Inbox takes the Gmail concept of Tabs for various categories (which I hated and turned off) and takes it further. Inbox sorts emails by “bundles” which are loose categories. They include bundles like “Travel,” “Social,” “Promos” and the like. When emails come in to Inbox, they are sorted into the appropriate bundle and you can deal with them together.

Now I am on what seems like every press release list on the planet because of my work for TeleRead. Inbox groups them as “Promos” and I can deal with them as a group instead of one at a time. Best of all, you can schedule bundles to appear once a day or once a week. I just checked my Gmail inbox. There are currently more than 30 emails there, all intended for the “Promos” or “Social” bundles, which I have scheduled to show up in Inbox once a day, in the morning. Tomorrow I’ll take care of them all, and I won’t be bothered by them again until the next day. That saves lots of time processing emails throughout the day.

Don’t like how Inbox filed an email? No problem. You can change that.

The best thing about bundles (other than the scheduling feature) is that you can mark them all as “Done” as a group. Or if there are a few you want to read, you can “pin” them and then sweep away all the others. No more deleting emails by the each. Did I mention that emails in bundles don’t generate reminders on your phone? Fewer distractions!

Another great feature of Inbox is the ability to Snooze an email until later. This gets it out of your Inbox and schedules it to come back when you have time to deal with it. I use this for all sorts of follow up actions.

There’s just one thing I don’t like. Sometimes responding to just one person in a chain of emails can be tough. Inbox will automatically Reply back to the last person who emailed, which is awkward if you wanted to respond to someone else in the chain. I have to go into regular Gmail to make that work properly.

With one minor quibble aside, Inbox has me spending less time on my email and allows me to control when and how. What’s not to like about that?

  • ooo, I don’t find that a minor quibble. I often times use that feature. Many of my emails are chain emails with several people.

    • admin

      @Joanne, it’s not a big deal for me. I don’t have many email chains, and I can usually catch an email early enough to answer the person I want. But yes, for some, it might be a big deal.

  • Odd, I actually like category Tabs in gmail. But I cheat. I use “Promotions” as a place to stash the messages I want to deal with later. That keeps the number of messages in my primary inbox low, and all of them have fairly high priority.

    • admin

      @Virginia, I’m not a fan of stashing. I tend to forget to check where I’ve stashed them (kind of like a squirrel and nuts). Rescheduling them works better for me. Interesting use of the Promotions tab and glad it works for you!