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Gmail is, without a doubt, the best email service ever.  With its huge storage space, its Labs features and its search functions, it consistently beats the pants off its rivals.

But saying that, there are still some features missing from Gmail that would make it an even more perfect service for me.  Now a company called Baydin has decided to add some of those features themselves in the form of a Firefox extension or Chrome plugin called Boomerang.  Having tried it out, I hope that Gmail will soon integrate these features themselves as they are simply brilliant.

And what is even more brilliant is that MakeUseOf has secured 400 invites to this private beta so you can try it out for yourself.

What Boomerang basically does is add two new buttons to your Gmail interface.   When you read an email it adds this :

And when you answer an email, you will now see this button :


Let’s start with the first one.   Let’s say you’ve read an email and you realise that you don’t need it at that precise moment.   Perhaps it is a hotel reservation or dinner date which you don’t need to know about right now but you need to be reminded of nearer the time.  But you also don’t want it sitting there clogging up your inbox.  So what to do?   Just click the “Boomerang” button and you will see this :

Simply choose when you would like the email to return.   If you want a specific time, just choose the last option and this box will come up.   Simply enter the exact date and time you want the email back in your inbox.

The email will then disappear from your inbox and be returned again at the requested time, unread and tagged with a “Boomerang” Gmail label.

The second option – “send later” – enables you to delay your replies so that they are sent to people at a certain time.  Maybe you want to fool your boss into thinking that you are working hard on a Friday afternoon, when in reality you’re in the pub propping up the bar.   Or perhaps you want to ensure that a very important email arrives in someone’s inbox at a time when they are guaranteed to see it?   This is where the “send later” function comes in very handy.

When you have typed your reply, press the “save now” button to ensure that your reply has been saved in its entirety by Gmail.   Then press the “send later” button.   This is what you will see :

This menu works on the same principle as the other one.  Simply choose the time when you would like your email to be sent.   Again, you can choose a specific date and time simply by choosing the last option and filling in the box that pops up.   Your email will then sit in your Gmail drafts folder until the time comes for it to be sent by Boomerang.   The app warns you that if you open the email in your drafts folder before it is sent, you may end up cancelling the send request.  So take care if you need to re-read the email for any reason.

Boomerang, in a nutshell, takes care of two of my most wanted Gmail features and they are already helping me a lot in my constant quest to battle and tame my inbox.   They quite simply make Gmail an even more kickass email service than it already is.

There is also a Boomerang version for Outlook but this one isn’t free.   After a 14 day trial, the price is $14.95.  For businesses, this might be worth it but for private individuals, I am not so sure.

Here is Boomerang’s YouTube video about their features, which basically repeats what I have just been talking about.   But maybe some of you prefer a visual explanation so here you go :

So now you are probably panting at the thought of installing this baby into your Gmail account.   Since this is currently a private beta, you need an invite and MakeUseOf has secured invites for 400 lucky readers.  So you need to be quick!   Simply go here and in the “already have an invite code?“, type “makeuseof” (without the speech marks).  You will then be taken to the download page.

If you are unlucky and didn’t manage to get an invite, it seems that you can request an invite directly from Baydin themselves.   Just follow them on Twitter then send them a tweet requesting an invite.   They say they will issue one within one day.

So why not test Boomerang for yourself then let us know in the comments what you think.  Don’t you agree that this is an amazing function to be added to Gmail?

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