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I get a lot of email. Not as many as the true technorati do, but more than you might guess. Actually, stop that, you don’t have to guess: It’s averaging 1,050 messages a week this year.

I’ve also gotten pretty good at handling (don’t say firehose, don’t say firehose) this firehose (d’oh!) of emails. Not perfectly, but I’ve got long experience on my side and a twitchly set of keyboard shortcuts.

So when I heard about Sanebox from Andru Edwards, I was frankly doubtful that it would do much for me that I wasn’t doing for myself. But it turns out.. well, I’m getting ahead of myself. What’s Sanebox, you ask?

Sanebox is a cloud-based service that offers to clean up your email inbox, like Dobby the house-elf, leaving just the important emails in your inbox, and sorting the rest away for your heirs to deal with. It’s supposed to save you “hours” a week.

The key questions are, how does it know what to pick, and how well does it do at picking?

How does it know what to pick? I have no idea. There’s NO setup initially. They just ask that if something seems misfiled, that you switch it back to where it belongs (i.e. put it back in your inbox, or kick it out to the “read later” box.) I get a lot of mail from random people who have never emailed me before. I’m on some mailing lists that are critical, and others that are lame. And I get email from generic-sounding addresses that are actually quite important. So I don’t know how it knows, because *I* don’t know how to tell it.

Then, how does it do? Frankly, I was stunned. Sanebox really did do an amazing job right off the bat. Since Sanebox, I probably only have to look at a third or a quarter as many emails when they arrive—it’s that’s wonderful.

Later when I have spare time, I look through the emails that have been moved to a “SaneLater” folder, which fills up with all those Facebook notifications and commercial emails and mailing lists that are too good to unsubscribe from but you don’t need to read right now. I can ignore it for a day or two or even longer. It’s heaven.

Sanebox also has a few other tricks it can do—it will scan your Spam folder to see if there’s anything mistakenly sent to there and rescue it, and it can hold items out of your inbox until tomorrow or next week and then drop them back in front of you. It also has more granular controls, but honestly, I like it BECAUSE it’s not granular—it just spins golden emails out of the pile of hay that used to be my inbox.

The only catch is, after the 30-day free trial, it costs some actual money: $5 / month. But since I get Gmail for free and I live in email, it’s a worthwhile investment for me. And perhaps, by supporting it, it’ll grow and either get bought by, or influence the development of, Gmail itself. Because even though I’ve already been using Gmail’s various tools (Priority Inbox) for getting me to my important email, Sanebox really does do a stellar job. It’s like the opposite of a spam filter.

And I also happen to like companies that actually CHARGE for something I VALUE. Compare this to Instagram which was free and then sold ITSELF and ALL MY PICTURES to Facebook. I’m not getting a penny of that.

You can try it for a month and then very easily discontinue it, and it’s not just for Gmail, it works with Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, and more, they say.  If you sign up for Sanebox via one of my links, I’ll get a $5 discount, and so will you. So there’s THAT carrot.

Really, I can think of only one downside—though it’s a BIG one. You see, Sanebox needs to have complete access to your inbox, so your privacy is in its hands (claws? gentle iron grip?) You’ve probably had to make this privacy choice several times in the past few years—deciding which companies you can bet your privacy on.  Some companies have that “thing” that just makes me trust them (hi, USAA!), some don’t but have a service that’s worth the risk (hi, PayPal!) , and some are too sketchy, frivolous, scary or poorly implemented that I won’t go there (hi, Microsoft!).

Sanebox seems to me to be worth poking another hole in my ever-leaking privacy shield, but you may not think the same way.

If you get too much email and you want to see what a professional wrangler could do with it, give Sanebox a try, and let me know if you like it.



 
 

 

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Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

Comments

 

 

 

 

 

How does Sanebox differ from the sorting that Gmail does natively (important, unimportant, bulk and so forth)?

 

Posted by Darren
  at 8:27 am on Apr. 11, 2012

 

 

 

Because you are within the cadre of people who offer tech-related advice I accept unquestioningly, I gave Sanebox a shot. You're right. It is really quite liberating.

 

Posted by nan
  at 10:55 pm on Apr. 16, 2012

 

 

 

@Darren - The Sanebox algorithm seems to do a better job -- there are often items marked "important" that Sanebox correctly hides, and vice versa. Beyond that, it would be nice if Sanebox actually DID mark things important.

@Nan - Thank you, glad I could help!

 

Posted by Travis Smith
  at 2:26 pm on May. 9, 2012

 

 

 

Hello excellent blog! Does running a blog like this take
a massive amount work? I have absolutely no knowledge of coding but I had
been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any recommendations or techniques
for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject but I just
wanted to ask. Appreciate it!

 

Posted by zithromax
  at 9:39 am on Aug. 22, 2018

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