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send short emailsHow much time do you spend reading and sending email each week? If you’re thinking “wayyyyy too much“, then you are probably in the majority. It’s easy to get buried in your inbox, especially if you have a lot of back and forth conversations with those you’re emailing.

If you’re ever in this situation, there’s a lot you might do in order to drastically decrease your inbox count. You might try to make a game out of it by using an app like 0boxer, or you may just begin unsubscribing to things left and right. One thing I bet you never thought of, however, was decreasing the size of individual emails themselves.

In this article, I’m going to show you a service that combines traditional email and short-hand messaging services like Twitter. Whether you need to alter your email-composing habits or you just want to take a break from your regular inbox altogether, Shortmail may be for you.

What Is Shortmail?

Shortmail (directory listing) lets you communicate with anyone who has an email address quickly with short messages. And by short, I mean short – at least by email standards. Shortmail functions much like Twitter, only instead of limiting messages to 140 characters, you have a 500 character limit, which gets you in the habit of crafting shorter emails. It’s an effort to make email more “concise, readable and conversational.”

send short emails

You sign into Shortmail with your Twitter account, and get an address (with matching handle!) in the process. For example, if I signed in with my @steve_campbell Twitter name, I would be


. Once you have an account, you can send and receive emails from any email account in the world, provided the messages themselves are less than 500 characters.

The Shortmail iPhone App

Now that you have a feel for what Shortmail is all about, I’d like to talk a little about their new iPhone app, which combines the best parts of email, text messaging, and sending tweets.

short email

Shortmail’s iOS app looks much more like an instant messaging client than an email one, which does a lot to back up the conversational approach the company has undertaken. It’s light, simple to use, and makes email easy. The app also supports push notifications, to keep you on top of important messages.

short email

Shortmail also introduced the idea of “Public” and “Open” conversations, which basically make your less-private emails available to outsiders. This, of course, is optional.

As I mentioned above, you will need a Twitter account to use the Shortmail app, and once you sign up it will create a Shortmail address for you using your Twitter handle. Your Shortmail address will be public, meaning anyone can find you easily using the service (provided they know you’re using it). It’s easier than Twitter, where both parties have to be following one another in order to send Direct Messages.

send short emails

While Shortmail’s iOS app makes a great companion for its website, you can use the app on its own. It integrates seamlessly into iOS 5 and instantly converts your iOS Twitter accounts into Shortmail accounts with no signup or passwords.


I think Shortmail is a cool enough app to check out if you’re looking to take a break from email without actually leaving your inbox unattended. I love how Twitter-centric the app is, and the idea of making email more social/conversational is definitely a refreshing thought. Basically, it’s not going to replace your Gmail inbox, but it can be useful for managing the “conversations” you have with others over email.

What do you think of Shortmail?  Do you see it helping you to make your emails shorter and more concise?

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  1. CassiQ
    November 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I think I'd just send shorter mails, rather than downloading an app to do it. 500 characters is still a lot for a "short" e-mail. And then we also have IM for shorter questions and messages. No, I will not be downloading it.