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One of the best pieces of software I’ve ever bought is a plugin for Apple Mail named SendLater. The app does one thing, but it does it very well: it lets you write responses to your email now, but delay sending them until a later date and time that you specify.
Why would you need to send your emails at a later date? Here are a few use cases I’ve uncovered over the last month or two.
- To manage people’s expectations. I often like to respond to email the moment it comes in, but don’t want people to expect responses from me that quickly. A send-it-later plugin lets you delay your responses for a few hours, which will ease the pressure you feel to respond to emails the moment they come in.
- To not respond outside of business hours. Again, this point is all about setting other people’s expectations. If you like answering work emails in the evening, but don’t want your coworkers to expect responses after a certain time, you should delay sending your emails until the next business day.
- To delay sending important emails. When I write big, important emails, or write emails when I’m in an elevated emotional state, I almost always schedule the email to send the next day. Most of these plugins keep your scheduled emails in a separate folder, so you can make edits to your messages before they go out the next day.
- For when someone’s on vacation. If a coworker goes on vacation, scheduling an email to send later will help you delay your message for when they’ll be back in the office, so it will be at the top of their list.
- To stay ahead of the game. I personally don’t use the plugin for this, but a send-it-later plugin could be very handy for staying ahead of the game by scheduling emails like birthday and anniversary notes, and appointment reminders to send in advance.
I’ve done quite a bit of digging, and uncovered some awesome plugins for Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook, and Android. (Unfortunately, after digging for quite some time, I couldn’t find any similar plugins for the iPhone mail client, Outlook.com, or Yahoo Mail.)
Here are the best plugins out there for sending email later:
- For Gmail: Boomerang’s Send Later browser extension and the Right Inbox browser extension both support Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and both add a button to Gmail’s web interface to send a message later (right next to the Send button). Both services allow you to send 10 emails later per month for free, and charge $5/month if you want to send more than 10 messages later/month after that. mxHero supports only Chrome, but the service is totally free for personal use.
- For Apple Mail: SendLater. $12, one time. For sending email later in Apple Mail, SendLater is the only game in town, but that’s okay. It’s a terrific app, and an easy buy if you ask me.
- For Outlook: Outlook has this feature built-in, but it’s a bit buried. Navigate to Options -> More Options -> Delay Delivery -> Delivery options to send an email later. (Here are instructions for previous versions of Outlook.) If you want something a bit easier (and I wouldn’t blame you), SendLater is free, and has a pro version for $30.
- For Android: Boomerang makes an Android app that allows you to schedule sending email later. It’s free while it’s in beta, though the company will be revisiting their pricing afterward.1
So much of being productive is managing the expectations of the people around you. These email plugins will help you do just that.