Use labels, such as those offered by Gmail, to tag every message with one or more labels;
Use folders, as offered by traditional email clients and providers, to place each message into a single, distinct folder;
Archive all of your messages into one place, and just use the search functionality of your email client to find your messages; or
A combination of the above methods.
I’ve used labels ever since switching to Gmail years ago, and have several filters set up to automatically label a large percentage of incoming messages. Lately, though, I’ve been wondering if it is really necessary. Gmail’s search capabilities are very powerful, and taking the time to label every message can be time consuming. At the very least, I think I can slim my labels down to a few broad categories.
What method do you use to organize your email? Is it one of the methods listed above, or do you have your own way of doing things?
Is your PC’s desktop or downloads folder cluttered with files? If so, and you’re feeling overwhelmed with the thought of getting your system organized, check out DropIt. DropIt is a free program that creates a big icon on your desktop, that can be thought of as a drop zone. When you drop a file onto the icon, actions will be performed on it depending on how you’ve configured DropIt. DropIt can help you quickly move files to the proper place on your PC, without having to manually select a folder for each file.
The filters that you can set up with DropIt are fairly basic, so you would be better off with something like Belvedere on Windows or Hazel on the Mac if you want advanced features for PC organization and cleaning. With DropIt, you can filter a file based on name or file type. For each such file, you can preset DropIt for one of the following options: Move, Copy, Compress, Extract, Open With, Delete, Exclude.
DropIt doesn’t seem to be intended to be a comprehensive organization utility, but does seem ideal for quickly going through your desktop or other folders, and moving files to preset locations. For example, you could quickly go through your desktop, and drop all of your image, video, and audio files onto your DropIt drop zone, and have them moved to your picture, video, or music folders, without taking the time to place each file in the proper location.
Do you have any apps that you use to organize your system? Let us know in the comments.
Less than two months after our last update on Springpad — one of our hottest topics on 40Tech — the tool to save and organize pretty much anything has sent out another press release full of updated goodness. Goodness to the tune of more than 250,000 new users in the month of January alone, 4 million new bookmarks via the Delicious bookmark importer, new saved-search filters, delete and archive support, and an overhaul to what was already one of the better Google Chrome extensions out there.
From the press release:
Faster Ways to Get Organized with Springpad on the Web
New Filters: Springpad structures the data you save to make it easy for you to search and filter through your items. Search through your recipes or restaurants by cuisine; filter your movies by actor or genre. Once you’ve created your filters, you can easily save them to make the next search faster than ever.
Delete and Archive Support: Springpad now has a “trash” button on the home screen so you can quickly recover an item you may have archived or inadvertently deleted.
Enhanced Springpad Extension
Springpad’s upgraded Chrome Browser Extension makes it fast and easy to add a note, create a task or look up something without leaving the site you’re browsing. When you use the extension to clip content, the new item is automatically categorized (recipe, movie, restaurant, book, etc.) and you can create or select a notebook for more efficient organization. To install the extension, click here.
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Springpad lately, both here at 40Tech and around the web. For good reason, too. The app’s new features and interface improvements have put it strongly in the running for one of the best save-everything-and-get-organized apps out there. People are loving it! According to CEO Jeff Janer, the new Springpad has seen a huge spike in usage. After playing with it for a while, I can see why.
When I first reviewed Springpad, back in April of this year, I compared it directly to Evernote, and pointed out why some of Springpad’s features were actually superior to our favorite note-taking app. The downside of Springpad was that there was simply too much going on, and that some of the different functions, like the internal apps, didn’t always play seamlessly with one another. Springpad’s development team listened to their users, and the new interface appears to have brought about feelings of peace, harmony, and general bliss amongst the Springpadians.
There have been several major updates to Springpad in the past months, the most notable taking place in September, November, and on Tuesday.
If you’re new to Springpad and don’t want to read my (very large) previous post, or just want a quick overview of some of the new features, watch the video at the bottom of this post.
September: Mobile Alerts, Chrome Extension
September brought about custom reminders and mobile alerts that helped to keep you aware of things on the go, like price drops and coupons for items you saved to your Springpad. It also brought about their most excellent Google Chrome extension.
November: All New Interface, Notebooks and the Board
November saw a huge shift in the interface, paring it down, making it easier to navigate, and generally making it prettier. Along with the new look and feel, better tagging functionality, and bulk editing capability, a lot of potential clutter and confusion was removed by taking all of the internal apps (for GTD, blog planning, and many other things) and giving them their own playground. Users that really wanted to keep the information stored in those apps tied in a neat bundle in the main Springpad app were given the option to port the notes into what is likely the most significant improvement to the service: new, easy to add and use notebooks.
Adding notebooks to Springpad has done a marvelous job of giving you control over how you organize your information. It used to be in one big list, that could be broken down over the large lot of internal apps — which was good in theory, but overwhelming in practice. Now, you have full control over what buckets you want to dump your saved information into, and it is nicely black-boxed in a very clean new interface that looks and feels like a desktop app. To make things even better, each notebook can have it’s own theme, which you can customize with personal images and photos, if you like.
The final hurrah for November was the introduction of the Board. The Board is an awesome use of HTML5, and there is one in every notebook. It gives you a visual approach to organizing your information that works like an old fashioned cork board, or laying out flashcards and sticky notes on a table. For the visual among us, myself included, this was a sweet miracle! The gift that keeps on giving, the Board also automatically adds items with address information to a handy, interactive Google map that can also be moved about. The Board is especially cool on the iPad, which allows you to move the items about with a finger, adding a tactile element that only improves upon the experience.
December: Chrome Web Store, Drag & Drop File Attachments, Keyboard Shortcuts and More
As if all that wasn’t enough, December’s updates brought about several more nice additions to Springpad, including the ability to drag and drop outside files onto the Board as file attachments. This is a fantastic improvement to on the other way to add files to Springpad which is to add a note, then add a ‘note to the note’ that has an attachment. You can even add multiple files at once (10mb/file).
The file-dropping feature only works in Google Chrome, which Springpad has entered into a nice marriage with. The web app was even featured in the launch of the Google Chrome Web Store on Tuesday. Chrome users can now install a shortcut of the Springpad app right into their start page, as well as sign up or login with Google’s OpenID, which allows easy access to the app. Once installed, you can open Springpad in a new tab, as a pinned tab, in full screen (which really makes it feel like a desktop app), and — if you use a Google Chrome developer version — as it’s own application. When combined with the Chrome extension, the installed Springpad is an information saving and organizing powerhouse. In my installation, and I’m not sure if it is a result of the extension or using a developer version of Chrome, I can even save a page to Springpad simply by right clicking and selecting the option from my context menu (if you happen to know which is the proper reason, let me know in the comments).
The final additions in the barrage of new features are keyboard shortcuts, like the ability to Shift+Tab between notebooks (see the complete list below), a search box and alert notifications on the home-screen, and the ability to share private items via a link (public items can already be shared to a gazillion services).
What’s to Come
The single thing that most longtime Springpad users were hoping for would be a desktop app. Unfortunately, that’s still a ways out, but I give Springpad credit for focusing on making their service a hell of a lot more functional on the web side of things first, before committing themselves to a desktop undertaking. According to Jeff, the desktop app will probably come in a windows flavour, first, but he didn’t have a date for me. What he could tell me, thought, was that the web version will make use of HTML5 to enable offline access to Springpad in and around the first quarter of next year. This is something the mobile versions of Springpad already do, and with the new web interface it will likely be almost as good as a desktop app by itself.
Some other pending features include the Board on the iPhone, as well as on Android OS (once it supports tables), and some interesting Facebook and other integrations that will enable you to do things like pull friends’ likes into the recommendation engine and filter them by subject. They are also looking into the possibility of a universal app for Facebook, and potentially, .doc and .PDF scanning.
In just a few months, Springpad has moved in leaps and bounds that blue tights-wearing, red-underwear-on-the-outside super beings might be jealous of. I am thoroughly impressed and actively considering new ways to implement the service into my day to day workflows. I actually did research and planned this post in Springpad. It was a good process. I’m also using it to track potential Christmas gift ideas for family members, and I can see the Board and me becoming great friends — especially if Springpad adds some connectors and other customization features to it in the near future. To be perfectly honest, though, they had me at “HTML5 offline access!”
What do you think of Springpad’s new features? How Will they affect how you use the app?
If you’re like me, you let your computer – and particularly your PC’s desktop – become a complete mess before you dive in to tidy it up. One way to speed up the cleaning process is by filing away all that mess. If you want a fast way to dump files into predetermined folders, take a look at FileMenu. FileMenu is simple in concept, but it is like the Swiss Army Knife of file management. Read more
Zomm is one of those neat little gadgets that I’m not sure I would ever buy, might raise an eyebrow at if given it for a gift, but would probably find ridiculously useful if I had one. It does three things:
Helps you never forget your phone (or other bluetooth-enabled device you’ve paired to it) by sounding an alarm if you start to walk away from it.
Answers phone calls with the touch of a button, improving driving/cell-phone safety.
Acts as a personal security alarm that will even dial 911 for you.
The Zomm, which won Best of Innovations at 2010’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), is keychain-sized, comes in white or black with blue accents, and will fit in the palm of your hand. It costs about $80.00.
Check out the video post on the Zomm below. It’s by super-geek Chris Pirillo, and will, at the very least, remind you of exactly what level of geek you are by comparison. If five minutes of Chris is too much for you to handle, go one video down and check out the Zomm commercial – Chris is funnier, though. Enjoy, and have a fantastic weekend!
Who’s getting the Zomm on your Christmas shopping list?
If you’re like me and have a tendency to lose track of your warranty information, Niggle It is a service with a singular purpose: to help you keep track of the details of all of your agreements, including warranties, business contracts — even those conversations that you have with your mobile carrier’s customer service agents. Niggle It will track anything you feel important enough to be reminded about, be it personal or business related.
You can add electronic copies of your documents to Niggle It by emailing in a scan or a photograph taken with a digital camera. You can also use any mobile phone capable of taking pictures and sending email — or use the iPhone app to create the entire Niggle on the go.
The value of Niggle It is the ability to create reminders based on contract dates, and to add additional information and documents to the file (Niggle) that is dedicated to that one item/contract. You have a dedicated, always on hand back up of the documents you need if something goes wrong, and a tool that is able to remind you to, say, get that last full service in on your car before the warranty runs out — just in case.
Niggle It guarantees that your information is always available from anywhere you can access the internet, and that everything is private and secure, with no personal information ever shared with a third party.
Niggle It is free up to five Niggles, and also includes the following pricing plans:
My wallet is pretty small. I don’t carry business cards because you can get my contact information from my LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, website or email signature. I don’t carry money because I have one rewards credit card that I use for everything. If you don’t take credit cards, then I’ll go to the store around the corner that does. I don’t carry receipts because I scan them into Evernote and have them synced with my phone. I don’t carry pictures because I put those in Dropbox and can see them on my phone any time I want without the risk of losing them. I don’t carry health insurance cards, dental insurance cards, business cards from my doctor’s office, or membership cards from AAA or elsewhere, because I put all of that information into my contacts on my phone and leave the cards at home. I don’t carry a library card because the library staff can pull up my information based on my driver’s license. So I am left with my driver’s license and a credit card. It seems that if Verizon and AT&T have their way, I soon will be down to just my driver’s license.
According to several sources, Verizon and AT&T are working on a partnership to develop contactless payments from your cell phone. The financial website The Motley Fool has more information on the deal. It seems there is no word yet on when this might be rolled out, or how they are going to fill my mailbox with pre-approved cell phone / credit card offers.
So what do you think? Would you use a system like this? Would you trust it?
Using bookmarklets has become a staple item for me in internet browsing — I use everything from Readability2Evernote, to a multitude of sharing and tracking tools, each with its own nifty difference from the other. My only qualm has been the way they clutter up my toolbar. No longer! I have now installed the bookmarklet to end all bookmarklets. Quix — as they say it "Your bookmarklets on steroids". Quix does everything. It comes with most things you might need already built in and even leaves you the ability to add your own. Want to search IMDB, for example? Click Quix, type IMDB and your search term and hit enter. That easy. I fully expect that one day I will ask it to make me dinner… and it will. At the very least it will point me to a really good recipe with just a couple of keystrokes and then allow me to quickly share it with the world at large.
Over on our Posterous site, we recently addressed one use case for reQall, a personal reminder service that allows you to capture information using voice or text. In that post, we explained how to get information into Evernote using reQall’s voice capturing and transcription features. There are other ways, though, to use reQall to stay organized. Here are a few ways that I use reQall in my life.