Email is huge: We send and receive so many messages every week, and so much of our time is spent in the confines of our inboxes. So it would only makes sense to analyze our emailing habits and try to learn something from them, and indeed, a number of Gmail analysis tools have recently popped up.
We’ve seen Google’s Activity Report tool that offers Gmail stats, and today I’m here to show you Gmail Meter, a free and clever Google Apps script that goes over your inbox and emails you with an interesting report.
Your Data Is Not Sent Anywhere
The first thing you should know about Gmail Meter: It’s private. Or at least, as private as Gmail. It’s a script that runs in a Google Spreadsheet on your own account, so while you need to grant the script access to your Gmail information, it still stays with you. What’s more, the script is right there in the spreadsheet, so if you’re feeling extra-nerdy, you can just audit the source code yourself to see that it’s not sending your data out to anyone:
Installing Gmail Meter
In this new spreadsheet, click the Tools menu and go to the Script Gallery:
Now just search for “Gmail Meter” and you’ll find the script:
Important: Note the author listed under the script, Romain Vialard. This is the author of the official script. Theoretically, there could be another script with the same name by another author with less-than-honest intentions. So make sure you install this exact script, recommended by Google. Click the Install button, and Google will ask if you’re really sure you want to grant this script permission:
Once you click Authorize, Google will ask you one more time just to make extra-sure, and you’re done installing it. Your spreadsheet should have a new menu titled Gmail Meter:
Open the menu, and click Get a Report. A simple dialog will pop up and ask what sort of report you want:
I opted for a custom report and limited the time range to two days:
The script then let me know it’s working on it, and that I should sit tight and wait for an email with results:
What’s In The Report
After an hour or so, I received an email with the report. It contained a surprising amount of data, and was well-formatted and interesting to read. Here are some of its highlights:
You can see how many emails I’ve received versus sent, and how many conversations were there. The “important” bit is quite bogus – I find Gmail’s importance algorithm sadly lacking, and might end up editing the script just to remove this bit. Still, it is interesting to see that in this period of time, I’ve only sent email to thirteen different addresses – less than I would have guessed. It’s also nice that the script shows the percentage of personal emails out of the automated barrage I receive – less than 20% of the email I get is actually sent to me, with the rest being addressed to mailing lists (as I understand it, at least – the script is not documented).
The report can also be used to analyze your usage patterns:
This chart shows that in that limited period of time, there was a period in the afternoon when I’ve sent no emails at all. Pretty insignificant when analyzing just two days, but it can be interesting to see on a longer timespan.
You can also see how much of your email gets labeled, how much is automatically archived, and how much just gets to the Inbox:
As you can see, I make extensive use of Gmail’s label feature.
The Gmail Meter reports contains numerous other metrics, such as the average word count in emails you write and in replies you receive, the busiest threads for the period, and more.
Not only is Gmail Meter an excellent way to learn more about your emailing habits, but it is a great showcase of what can be done with Google Apps Script and a bit of skilled coding.
Do you use email analysis tools? Do you use a different email client which gives you better insights? Share your thoughts below!