Gmail’s huge success owes itself in large part to the wide range of applications, browser add-ons, styles, scripts and bookmarklets that work with it. From the get-go Google’s stayed out of developers’ way and turned a blind eye to unofficial Gmail add-ons, even ones that may very well violate its terms of service. Smart move: Google’s high tolerance for third-party apps have only helped Gmail win the hearts of power users and tweakers everywhere.
1. Drag and drop attachment upload (Firefox)
Firefox extension DragAndDropUpload, in case you haven’t guessed, lets you drag and drop files into upload fields in web forms.
This is a handy extension to have when you’re uploading files and you’ve already got the folder open and don’t feel like digging through the Open File dialog to get to where you already are. Instead, just drag and drop the files one-by-one from the folder into the upload box
2. GmailThis! bookmarklet (all browsers)
If you’re familiar with keyword bookmarks (which I use extensively), you can set up the Supercharged GmailThis bookmarklet to do a lot more. First, drag this GmailThis bookmarklet to your browser’s toolbar. Next, right-click the bookmarklet and select Properties, then add a Keyword for the bookmarklet (I use gmt). Now you can do a bit more with your bookmarklet.
3. Import old email with Gmail Loader (Windows/Linux)
If you’ve recently made the switch to Gmail but you’re missing out on all your old email archives, the free Gmail Loader can load all your old messages into your current Gmail account. The Gmail Loader is primarily designed to import existing emails saved in the mBox format – the default for Thunderbird – so if you’re rolling with an Outlook .pst file, you might need import to Thunderbird first.
4. Check multiple accounts with Gmail Manager (Firefox)
All platforms running Firefox: The Gmail Manager Firefox add-on obviates the need to keep your Gmail open in a tab all the time by displaying your email info in a statusbar pop-up, as shown. If you’ve got more than one Gmail account, the Gmail Manager can show you information from all of them, too. The extension is highly customizable – you can show unread message counts in all labels or just the Inbox, and in the case of multiple accounts, set it to automatically switch to the one with new mail.
5. Gmail Encryption (Firefox)
Don’t like Google having all your email messages in plain text – even the sensitive ones? Install the Gmail Encryption Greasemonkey user script to add public/private key encryption to your messages.
6. Gmail Skins (Firefox extension)
Firefox extension Gmail Skins lets you change the look and feel of your Gmail inbox
7. Saved Searches (Firefox)
Mihai Parparita’s awesome Saved Searches is a Greasemonkey user script for Firefox. Persist message searches that you do often with the script installed, which stores your searches in cookies, or use an alternate version which saves searches across computers in a special contact. If you haven’t got Greasemonkey installed, get Saved Searches bundled in with several other user scripts in the Better Gmail Firefox extension.
8. Gmail Macros (Firefox)
Even Google developers have released unofficial Gmail add-ons. Keyboard-loving Gmail users absolutely must have the Gmail Macros Greasemonkey user script, which adds a Quicksilver-like interface to your inbox and killer keyboard shortcuts you can’t live without once you’ve learned them. Not Greasemonkey? The Better Gmail Firefox extension includes Macros, which was written by Google developer Mihai Parparita.
9. Conversation Preview (Firefox)
One of the most useful Greasemonkey user scripts for Gmail, Conversation Preview displays a message just by right clicking it in a message list view. Greasemonkey users can install the Conversation Preview user script, or get it bundled with several other Gmail user scripts in the Better Gmail Firefox extension.
10. GmailDrive file manager (Mac/Windows/Firefox)
GmailDrive for Windows (and similarly, Mac-only gDisk and Firefox extension GSpace) turn your Gmail account into an internet hard drive. Save and store files in your Gmail account using a file manager-like interface that stores files as message attachments in Gmail.
What’s your favorite third-party Gmail helper? Let us know in the comments.