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How much is your time worth? That’s the question posed by SaneBox, an email utility that promises to save you gobs of time by sorting through your email and separating the important stuff from, well, the other 93 percent. It’s such a simple idea, and yet other services (including heavyweights like Gmail) have failed to pull it off. But SaneBox gets it right, and packs in extra features that leave us wondering how we ever got along without it.
There’s basically no learning curve to using SaneBox, because it’s not really an application. As a web service, it sits between your IMAP email box and whatever email client you use. This is great, because it lets SaneBox work seamlessly between our Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Once you connect SaneBox to your email account, it creates a folder in your mailbox called @SaneLater. Important messages stay in your inbox, and less important stuff gets moved to @SaneLater (which you can rename however you like). The idea is to stay focused on your inbox, and dig in to @SaneLater when you have the time. It’s simple, and effective. If SaneBox’s default two-level organization system isn’t enough, you can flip the switch on @SaneBulk, @SaneNews, and @SaneArchive for further message sorting.
Connecting your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts at www.sanebox.com can help refine SaneBox’s filter, but even if you don’t, it works great from day one. And if SaneBox does make a mistake, training the filter is as simple as moving a message back to your inbox (or into one of the other SaneBox folders).
The website also allows you to activate additional folders like @SaneBlackHole, which deletes everything from that sender going forward, and @SaneNextWeek, which hides a message until Monday, when it’ll show back up in your inbox. You can set custom reminders by creating new folders in the web interface. You can also easily remind yourself by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, for example. The message will be removed from your inbox, and it will pop up again in three days—perfect for reminding yourself to get back to a message without having to switch to your trusty to-do application.
If you’re worried about missing a message, don’t be. Configurable reports let you review all of SaneBox’s actions, and tell you how much time you saved by not having to wade through useless email—I saved almost three hours last week.
The bottom line. SaneBox is email filtering Nirvana: simple, effective, and it just works.
IMAP email address
Simple to set up. Does a great job without training. Digest emails let you keep an eye on what's happening.
Only works with IMAP email. Minor settings tweaks didn't stick a few times we tried them.