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Free Chrome extensions power up Gmail

Erez Zukerman | May 23, 2013
From keyboard shortcuts to inbox managers, these handy Chrome extensions make a good email program even better.

With Markdown Here, you can write an email using Markdown, and then press Ctrl-Alt-M and watch it transform into a beautiful, richly formatted message. You can apply syntax highlighting to code listings, use multiple levels of headlines, and more. Dont like the formatting? Press the Markdown shortcut again (Ctrl-Alt-M), and your email reverts to plain text so that you can tweak it.

You can also use Markdown Here when replying to an email: Just highlight the part of the message you wish to format with Markdown, and press the key combination. That combination doesnt have to be Markdowns Ctrl-Alt-M; I like to use just Alt-M, and Markdown Here lets me customize that. And if you often email code snippets, you can even pick one of several themes for syntax-highlighted code.

Note that adding HTML and CSS to email messages can cause problems with some email clients, so if youre using this for a mailing list, offer a plain-text version as well.

When I send an email, I often want to be reminded if the recipient hasnt replied within a few days. Follow-up, unfortunately, is a feature that Gmail lacks. Thats why I was so happy to find Right Inbox for Gmail.

Right Inbox for Gmail is just one option in a highly competitive market of email-reminder and follow-up services. Theres Boomerang, which is pretty costly if youre using Google Apps ($15 per month). Followup.cc is client-agnostic, but that also means it doesnt integrate into Gmail. Right Inbox for Gmail offers seamless integration and an affordable price. This $5-per-month service adds a couple of new buttons that blend in well with Gmails native ones. Click them, and presto: You can now follow up on and track emails.

When composing a new email, just click the Remind Me button to set a follow-up time. Right Inbox for Gmail offers several preconfigured times, ranging from a set number of hours to tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon. You cant configure your own favorite intervals (one of the services few annoyances), but you can pick other intervals using a calendar pop-up.

Right Inbox for Gmail also lets you schedule emails to be sent automatically at a later time.

You can also set email tracking to notify you when a recipient opens an email. Tracking uses a small, invisible image embedded into the email, so it works only if the recipient opts to display images included with the email (many email clients dont display images by default).

Email notifications are like coffee: Some people cant stand them, while others are addicted and even use notifications to wake them up in the morning. Those in the latter camp may like Checker Plus for Gmail. Like every other mail checker, it lets you know when new emails arrive ... but thats where other email checkers stop and Checker Plus is just getting started.

 

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