Free encrypted email

Proton Mail offers free end-to-end encrypted email in a clean and simple ad-free web interface (there’s also a smartphone app). The company is based in Switzerland, a country that offers strong privacy protection. In addition, the company says it doesn’t have access to the plaintext of your emails, so they couldn’t give it to a third party even if they wanted to. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Nifty email

I’m old school. Email is my chief communication mode, and I primarily work on a laptop or desktop. While there are many things to recommend about Gmail on the web, it’s interface is not one of them. I use Postbox as my desktop mail client to reach my Gmail (it runs on Mac or Windows). I’ve tried other clients now and then but keep coming back to Postbox for its intuitive (to me) design and interface. And I’m still uncovering new capabilities I didn’t know it had. I use Spark on my phone. — KK

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Multiple inboxes

I use Gmail in my browser, and what I find most helpful is the Multiple Inboxes lab. When I’m working on a project, I create a label for all relevant email and that label becomes an additional inbox. That way, I don’t lose sight of my to-dos by placing them in a folder, and it keeps my inbox from cluttering. Kind of hard to explain, but it simplifies your life once you do it. Here are instructions. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Undo email send

How to unsend sent email. There are many reasons you might want to undo (or redo) an email you sent. A common reason for me is that I just remembered something I wanted to add. Gmail has a little known “undo” feature that you have to enable. On the web, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner, select “Settings.” About a third-way down the list check “Enable Undo Send.” Pick the 30-second maximum grace period. Be sure to “save changes.” Now when you send an email in Gmail you get a little box in the upper center just below the blue/white magnifying glass in the search box, that says “Your mail was sent”. For 30 seconds you have the chance to click on “Undo”. It reopens your message to give you the chance to edit or delete. — KK

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Forward email to unsubscribe

My personal gmail is a mess of promotional emails and spam. I’ve tried to clean it up in the past using unsubscribe services and marking messages as spam, but it’s a never ending struggle. Recently, I’ve started forwarding spam emails to unsubscribe.robot@gmail.com and that seems to work. There’s no guarantee, but it’s free, easy and they don’t sell your data. I just checked my usage on the website and it reports that so far I’ve been definitely unsubscribed from 6 emails and probably unsubscribed from 7. — CD 

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Disposable email

Mailinator offers free, disposable email addresses. When you visit a website that requires an email address (and sends you an email to confirm that the email is valid), you can give them any word followed by @mailinator.com. Then, visit Mailinator to access the email. It’s a great way to reduce spam. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Spam beater

10 Minute Mail is a disposable email address. Just go to the website, and you are presented with a newly-minted email address that self-destructs after ten minutes. Here’s a sample address: l544960@mvrht.com. Use it when a web form requires an email address and you don’t want to end up on their list. From the FAQ: “If the website makes you verify the email address by sending you a link you have to click on, then you can read the email right here on www.10minutemail.com and click on the link.” — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Global Forever stamps

Occasionally I need to mail a letter in an envelope, with you know, paper inside. I hate going to the post office, so I buy Forever stamps online. These US stamps are good for domestic mail forever (no matter how many price increases there are) so I buy a wad of them. Now the US Post Office has released a Global Forever stamp ($1.15) for mailing anywhere in the world. Since they are good forever, I got a bunch of them as well. They are distinctly circular, so they look cool too. — KK

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Snail mail in your email

USPS’s Informed Delivery is free and available almost everywhere in the US now. Every morning, I get an email with scanned images of my mail before it’s delivered. Most of the time it’s junk, and those days I don’t even bother checking my mailbox, but this service is great if you’re expecting something important. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Cheap business cards

In most parts of the world business cards are still a cultural norm. I designed my business card in Photoshop, and every few years I update the info and send the file to PS Print online and they mail back a small box of 250 for $18. Easy, quick, and cheap. — KK

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
One app for all your messages

I use a lot of different messaging services. It was a hassle to open them all and switch from app to app. I’m glad I found Franz, which consolidates all your chat & messaging services into one application. I use it for Hangouts, Slack, Skype, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, and Telegram. It’s free. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Best seat

I was having some back pain and pinched nerves, so I got this Steelcase Gesture Chair for my work desk. Those issues are non-existent now. So many different ways to position and sit in it. It’s so comfortable I have to set reminders throughout the day to get up or else I never would. — CD

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Favorite stapler

After watching 1999’s Office Space (directed by Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge), I wanted the red stapler belonging to the hapless cubicle worker. Soon after, Swingline started making a red model. I’ve had mine since 2008, use it daily, and it still looks new. Amazon sells them for $11 . — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
What's on that barcode?

If you’re curious about the information on barcode or QR code, take a photo or screengrab of it and upload it to this website. It will decode the contents and present it to you in human readable form. I used it recently to get a shipping tracking number I needed. — MF

ProductivityClaudia Dawson
Pinterest scrapbooks

A lot of folks, especially guys, kind of sneer at Pinterest, but I use it all the time. I have the Pinterest plugin activated on my web browsers, so anytime I come across an image or visual idea on a webpage I want to save, I simply click on the little red Pinterest bug that appears in the left corner of that image, and it is saved to a “pin board” of my choosing. The advantage of this method over say Evernote is that each image saved can unearth many more similar images from all the Pinterest boards. So, say I am researching how to make a lumber rack, I can collect a few examples from Google Images, or from some online forum, and then Pinterest will generate many more similar that others have collected. I can then curate my own collection from those, which is better than just looking at pages of Google results. You can keep your collections private or make them public, as I do with some of mine. — KK

ProductivityClaudia Dawson