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Goodbye Gmail! (Or the Best Gmail Alternatives)

Goodbye Gmail! (Or the Best Gmail Alternatives)
    Gmail Logo from Google

    Last week we helped you identify some of the best alternatives for Google Reader. Google has made some significant changes to the Gmail interface in the past few months – all which lineup with their direction towards a more “Google+” type of world.

    Google has introduced their new, more simplified interface for Gmail which they have been toying with for a while now. Some people love it. And of course, some people can’t stand it. I tend to be somewhere in the middle because as a geek I usually don’t do too well with change but don’t overreact.

    The new Gmail interface is intended to provide the user with a simplified experience. You can even choose how you want your line spacing (“display density”) to be – Comfortable, Cozy, or Compact. And, heck, you can even “temporarily” revert back to the Gmail’s old look.

    So, instead of keeping up with Google’s relentless quest to change everything that you are use to in the name of G+ and the word “temporarily” scares you, here are some alternate interfaces (mail clients) you can use with Gmail.

    Sparrow

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    Sparrow Mail Client

      If you are a “won-over” Gmail user and you use a Mac, then Sparrow is probably something you have checked out, if not changed to as your email interface of choice.

      Sparrow provides the user with a clean interface as well as all of the awesome Gmail shortcuts that you’ve come to know and love. The thing I like about Sparrow is just how easy it is to setup and use. Just take a peak at the preferences pane and you will find that it isn’t bloated at all.

      There is a free trial, but if you want to use it after that it will set you back $9.99 (a small price to pay for native Gmail client perfection on the Mac).

      Thunderbird

      Thunderbird
        Thunderbird

        has been around for while and it’s maintained by the Mozilla foundation, the same people that give you Firefox web browser. Thunderbird is a standard IMAP and POP email client that can be setup for just about any email address including your Gmail account.

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        Thunderbird is free and open source. It’s a decent, simple, and with some of the latest iterations, quite attractive (at least on the Mac). Also, setting up Gmail with Thunderbird is as easy as signing in with your Gmail credentials and then telling Thunderbird to use IMAP. Thunderbird is a cross-platform mail client available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

        Microsoft Outlook

          Ahh, Microsoft Outlook. The one app that I love and hate all at once.

          I’m not a Windows user at home but I do use Windows 8 hours a day at work and during that time Outlook is always running. For using simply as a Gmail interface, Outlook may be a tad bit expensive and sort of overkill. But, if you’re on Windows and you want a good integrated experience as well as some nice calendaring and mail rule features, then Microsoft Outlook may be a good application to look at.

          There is one thing that I do like about Outlook quite a bit though; you can integrate your email, calendaring, and tasks all in a single app.

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          Mail.app

            Mail.app

            is the default mail application that ships with the Mac OS X. Since the new Lion 10.7 update, Mail has taken on a new form (a new form that has made some Apple users quite upset). Once again, if you’re an avid Gmail user, you may find some of the new features of Mail make you feel like you’re right at home.

            You can archive messages (about time), view messages in conversation form, flag messages, etc. There’s also better searching which was something that Mail has needed for a while. In my opinion, Mail.app for Lion is a great upgrade to that of Mail.app in Snow Leopard.

            Another nice thing about Mail.app is that you can use any email settings, not just Gmail.

            Evolution

            The Evolution mail client is available for Linux and there is even some builds out there for Mac and Windows (for all you hacker types). This is the email client that was default with Ubuntu, but appears that it has been replaced by Thunderbird mentioned above.

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            Evolution is simple and has many features that you would come to expect from an email client. Evolution can support IMAP and POP and integrates mail, calendar, address book, to-do lists and memos.

            Evolution is open source and of course free.

            Opera Mail

              Opera Mail

              “ships” with the much loved Opera browser and is super easy to set up to work with Gmail and other email providers.

              One thing that I don’t quite like about Opera Mail is that it is integrated into my browsing experience (that is if I used Opera for my default browser). I like to have a clean seperation of my email and everything else.

              Regardless, Opera Mail can be used inside of Opera and has offline support, great searching capabilities, a cool “attachments section” that allows you to see all of your attachements in one place, and good folder/label support.

              What’s awesome about today’s technology is that we have a bunch of options. This is a good thing, especially when something you use like an email interface can be such a vital part of your workflow. If you are not happy with Gmail’s recent changes or just want a new way of viewing your email, the above email interface options are the best to date.

              More by this author

              CM Smith

              A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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              Last Updated on October 16, 2019

              11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

              11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

              Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

              Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

              Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

              In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

              1. ScheduleOnce

                ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

                ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

                ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

                Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

                Available on Web

                2. Calendly

                  Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

                  You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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                  Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

                  3. Assistant.to

                    For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

                    From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

                    While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

                    Available on Web

                    4. Acuityscheduling

                      Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

                      It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

                      Available on Web | iOS | Android

                      5. Pick

                        Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

                        At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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                        Available on Web

                        6. X.ai

                          For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

                          This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

                          Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

                          Available on Web

                          7. YouCanBook.me

                            is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                            They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                            Available on Web

                            8. Doodle

                              Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                              It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                              You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                              While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                              Available on Web | iOS | Android

                              9. WhenAvailable

                                WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                                Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                                Available on Web

                                10. Rally

                                  Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                                  Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                                  Available on Web

                                  11. NeedtoMeet

                                    Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                                    NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                                    While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                                    Available on Web

                                    Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                                    In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                                    To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                                    Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                                    A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                                    Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                                    If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                                    Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                                    With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                                    The Bottom Line

                                    Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                                    Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                                    Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                                    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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