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You don’t want to do it, but you know you have to open up your email client to send an important email. You try your best to stay on task, send your email, and get out, but an hour or two later you realize, you’ve been sucked in by the black hole of your email client.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Email should be a tool to communicate and get things done faster, not a trap that distracts you and sucks away all of your precious time.

Thankfully, there are a few solutions you can use that will allow you to simply open up a window, craft a quick email, and fire it off, without ever having to set foot inside your email inbox at all.  Please note, these are all Windows-based solutions, so if you’re a Mac or Linux user, you’ll have to take a look at email solutions for Linux KMail - A Different Kind Of Email Client For KDE [Linux] KMail - A Different Kind Of Email Client For KDE [Linux] People use various tools to manage their email, the two most popular being the Gmail website and the Thunderbird desktop app. However, today we'll be looking at a top KDE choice that has plenty to... Read More or for Mac Airmail for Mac OS X Is Making Email Beautiful Again Airmail for Mac OS X Is Making Email Beautiful Again When I first heard of Airmail, I must admit I questioned if I really needed a new way to check my email. Like many people, Mail.app satisfied all of my email requirements, and I struggled... Read More .

Simple Ways to Send Email

This article is about simple tools that will help you get the job done. You need to send an email, so that’s what you’re going to do.

Although the tools may be simple, setting them up may not always be easy. This is because in order to send email outside of your actual inbox, you need to set up certain parameters that still allow you to send email.

For example, for Gmail, you need to know your SMTP server settings, which you can find in Gmail, clicking on Settings, Forwarding and POP/IMAP, and clicking on Configuration instructions.  Click on “I want to enable POP” and then “Other” for the client.

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Whatever your email account is, there will be similar settings. If you don’t know how to find them, contact tech support for the email provider and ask how to find the SMTP settings. Once you have this information, you’re ready to set up one of the three solutions below.

Sending Email From the DOS Prompt

Wouldn’t it be cool to just open up a command prompt, type in a message and an email recipient, hit enter and be done with it? Well, you can actually do that. It just takes a little bit of setting up.

A couple of years ago I covered popular command-line email tool Easily Send Command Line Emails with Blat [Windows] Easily Send Command Line Emails with Blat [Windows] Blat. Not exactly the word you envision would be the name of a tool that you can use to send out emails to anyone in the world, from any application or software tool that you... Read More called Blat. Blat allows you to do just that — send emails from the command line.

The first thing you have to do if you intend to use Gmail though, is set up SSL tunneling using the stunnel utility. For Windows, download the stunnel installer exe file. Once you do that and set it up, go into the folder where it was installed, and edit the stunnel.conf file. Delete everything in there, and replace it with the script below.

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Once you’ve done this, go to the Start menu, find the Stunnel program folder, and launch stunnel Service Start.

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You’re almost ready to send command line emails, but first you’ll also have to lower your security settings in Gmail. You do this by “Enabling” less secure apps on the Less Secure Apps page for Gmail.

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Setting it to “Enable” will allow stunnel to work. Given, it also reduces the security of your Gmail account, so use this with caution. There is tradeoff here of security for convenience, so you’ll have to make a choice which is more important to you.

Now you can set up Blat. Just extract the three Blat files you downloaded, open a command prompt, and go to that directory. Enable Blat to let you command send messages by typing the following command (replacing the email, username and password with your own credentials).

blat -install 127.0.0.1 <your-email@email.com> 3 1099 -u <username> -pw <password>

Once that’s done, you’re good to go. To send an email from the command prompt, just type something like the following:

blat -body “This is a test” – to <recipient@email.com> -subject “Test Email”

Everything after “-body” is your email message. You can send it to any recipient email address, and then include the subject line after “-subject”.  The resulting output will look something like this:

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Now, whenever you remember that you need to let someone know something, just go to the start menu, click run, type “cmd” and then type in the blat command to send an email. You’re done. No distractions.

Sending an Email From Excel

Another frequently used Office tool that a large majority of computer-users use today is Excel. In fact, the solution below can be used with almost any Office product, including Word, Access and others.  The bottom line is that you’ll be using the VBA back-end to create a simple and efficient email sending tool.

Here’s how it works.  When you have Excel open, press Alt-F11 to open the VBA editor. Create a new module by right clicking on the VBAProject, select “Insert”, and then select “Module”.

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Copy and paste the code below into that new module. This is a subroutine that will basically use CDO for Windows to fire off an email through your Gmail account. To test it out, use the code below and replace the email addresses and account info with your own.

Sub SendMailFromGmail(strTo As String, strSub As String, strMessage As String)

Dim iMsg As Object
Dim iConf As Object
Dim Flds As Variant

Set iMsg = CreateObject(“CDO.Message”)
Set iConf = CreateObject(“CDO.Configuration”)

iConf.Load -1
Set Flds = iConf.Fields

With Flds
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpusessl”) = True
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpauthenticate”) = 1
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/sendusername”) = “xxxxx@gmail.com”
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/sendpassword”) = “MyPa55w0rd5AreCra55y”
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpserver”) = “smtp.gmail.com” ‘smtp mail server
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/sendusing”) = 2
.Item(“http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpserverport”) = 465 ‘stmp server
.Update
End With

With iMsg

Set .Configuration = iConf
.To = “recipient@yahoo.com
.From = “youremail@gmail.com”
.Subject = “Tonight’s Message At: ” & Time
.TextBody = “Hey! Sending from Email Works!”
.Send
End With

Close UserForm1

Set iMsg = Nothing
Set iConf = Nothing

End Sub

Save the code and click the green “run” button in the toolbar. If there are no errors, the recipient email should receive your test email immediately.

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Of course, you don’t want to have to edit this code every time you want to send an email, right? No, the simple approach is a very basic form. So in your VBA project, right click on VBAProject, and insert a new user form. Use the Toolbox to add components to the form, like buttons, text fields and labels.

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The only important thing here is that you give each object a “(Name)” that you’ll remember, and to change what words are displayed on labels or pushbuttons, use the “Caption” parameter setting.

Once you’re done building your form and naming all of the elements on the form, it should look something like this.

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Double click on the “Send Mail” button you created, and it’ll take you into the VBA editor. Paste the following line into the code for that button.

Call SendMailFromGmail(UserForm1.txtTo, UserForm1.txtSubject, UserForm1.txtMessage)

The above code assumes you’ve named the text fields “txtTo”, “txtSubject” and “txtMessage”. This line is calling the function you created above, and passing it the data you’ve filled in.  The function you created turns those into variables called strTo, strSub and str Message. Tweak that part of the code above so that those variables are included as shown here.

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Now, save everything, go back to your user form, and press the play button, Now you can just type in the recipient email address, a subject line, and an email message. Press send and you’re done!

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Some tips to make the form above work better (for somewhat advanced users)
: Change the message textbox parameter “Multiline” to “True” and “Wordwrap” to “True” so that typing the message scrolls naturally down the form line-by-line as you type.

Obviously, this is a little bit of work, but what you end up with is a form that you can embed anywhere in an Excel Worksheet, or you can just use this Excel project as your quick-send email client.

Sending Emails With Google Calendar

If you’re more of a cloud-based computer user than a desktop-based one, then maybe the solutions above aren’t quite your style. No worries, there’s a cool solution for you too. If you’re a Google Calendar user, you can actually use Google Calendar as an email client.

Don’t believe me? Check it out. It’s possible through the wonderful power of IFTTT 10 Great ifttt Recipes To Automate Your Web Life 10 Great ifttt Recipes To Automate Your Web Life We’ve already introduced you to ifttt in a previous post and there have been several improvements made and new channels added to the web application since then. Automation and synchronization are two points that have... Read More .  Just log into your IFTTT account (or create one), and create a trigger using Google Calendar. Choose the option to trigger whenever you create a new event.

Next, make the output Gmail.

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Make the To Address the “Where” ingredient. Make the Subject the “Title”. Finally, make the Body the “Description”.  Seems strange? Don’t worry, it’s the coolest thing you’ll ever do. Once you’ve finished creating the recipe, open up Google Calendar and create a new event. Treat the new event form just like you’re composing an email.

The title is the subject line, the “Where” field is for the recipient email addresses, and the “Description” field is the body of your email.

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Does it work? Yup — and the recipient won’t even know that you’ve just sent them an email from your Google Calendar rather than Gmail! It looks just like any other email.

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As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can automate other tools so that they can be used to send out email, helping you avoid that quagmire known as the email inbox.

Have you ever come up with other creative ways to send emails without opening your email client? Share your own ideas and insights in the comments section below!

Image Credit: sdecoret/Shutterstock

  1. SWA
    September 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    And if you are an Outlook user, create a bookmarklet with

    javascript:location.href='mailto:?'+escape(location.href)

    as the location, to open a blank email. (or javascript:location.href='mailto:?SUBJECT='+document.title+'&BODY='+escape(location.href) to send a link of the current web page.)

  2. SH
    September 8, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?view=cm opens a new message Gmail window without passing through the inbox. Add a link to your bookmarks toolbar and you're done (idea borrowed from the "Google Shortcuts" extension in FF)

  3. Jayghosh Rao
    September 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Hi. A nice attempt, but it seems like a lot of effort goes into setting it up and then using it too. Why not simply install an email client and set up a hotkey combination to open the compose window?

    I use mailbird. Simple and swift.

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