Ultimate Productivity Tool: A Snooze Button For Your Inbox

Last Updated Mar 16, 2011 4:59 PM EDT

My inbox sometimes feels like an e-mail graveyard, with old messages dropping out of sight because I wasn't ready or able to act on them just yet. And you know the saying: out of sight, out of mind. Many times I've neglected an important e-mail because it got pushed "below the fold."

The solution? A reminder service that resends the message to me at a later time. In other words, it's like a snooze button for my inbox: press it and the selected message gets queued, reappearing at the top of my inbox in a day, a week, or whenever I designate.

I've rounded up five of these services, most of them free, all of them easy to use and insanely useful. Take a look:

Baydin Boomerang

A plug-in designed expressly for Outlook users, Boomerang is arguably the simplest of all the reminder services. All you do is right-click a message, then choose the length of the desired "snooze." And Boomerang temporarily removes the delayed e-mail from your inbox and stores it in a special folder, thus reducing inbox clutter more than any other solution. Alas, the pricing has doubled since Dave first wrote about it: you now get a 30-day free trial, after which the program costs $29.95. My take: totally worth it.


True to its name, Followup.cc is as much about remembering to follow up with clients and co-workers as it is reminding yourself to act on a particular e-mail. Thus, when sending or responding to a message, you can add a "followup" time to the BCC field, meaning the recipient(s) won't see it. But you'll get a reminder -- and a copy of the message -- at the designated time. And those reminders come with additional snooze options encoded right into the e-mail. Followup.cc also provides calendar feeds and SalesForce integration.


Similar in spirit to Followup.cc but a little more barebones overall, FollowUpThen also leverages the CC and BCC fields for sending follow-up messages to yourself and others. It's free, but the Premium version ($24/year) supports attachments and lets you add your logo to follow-ups.


Don't want to attend to an e-mail now? Schedule it for "Laytr." This service offers basic snooze-style reminders, but with one added perk: scheduled e-mail. You can address an e-mail to a particular date, then put the recipient's address in parentheses in the subject line. That's a cool way to, say, follow up with an employee while you're out of town. Laytr is free; a Premium version is in the works.


I've been using NudgeMail for the past several months, largely because it was the first reminder service I tried -- and I see no reason to switch. It's easy, effective, and free, and it recently added support for Google Calendar. Oh, and check out the cool NudgeMail Widget I wrote about a couple weeks ago.


There's a fair bit of overlap in these services, both in the syntax of the e-mail addresses you use to schedule your reminders and in the overall options they offer. Most don't even require any kind of sign-up -- you just forward an e-mail to the service and instructions will follow.

Which one should you use? If you live in Outlook, Boomerang is the slam-dunk choice. For everyone else I recommend Followup.cc, which I consider the most versatile of all the reminder/follow-up services. But they're all good, so if you're feeling overwhelmed by e-mail or just don't want to let an important message get lost in the shuffle, try any of them.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.


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