People meeting around a computer

Surviving smartly in the modern world means most of us have multiple email addresses. Work, real life, and a spare spam-catcher (or three) for those silly sites which honestly believe watching a video clip is worth your name and address — they allow us to filter and organize our incoming traffic, and that’s more essential than ever. Ninety percent of all email traffic is automated spam, but even after our filters have done their job, we have to sift through more trash than a family of Wombles on a landfill.

While multiple addresses allow us to compartmentalize our lives, they add hassle — the exact opposite of their intended function — as we sign in and out eighteen times a day. That is why we’re looking at five central services which will allow you to administer all your email in one easy place.

1. Gmail

Of course Google can do it! They’re trying everything else, up to and including a street-level view of Antarctic penguins (of all things). Even if you haven’t embraced our inevitable Internet overlords, adding a free Gmail address is an excellent way to re-route your inbox from multiple email addresses. The customizable filters are excellent for identifying urgent items and you’ll automatically benefit from new features as they’re added.

Gmail Import Settings

Gmail Import Settings

None of these features is any use if you’re forced to rebuild your old file and folder systems, which is why Google doesn’t just import them; it also includes a full official tutorial to help you do it. You won’t even get in trouble for using an unofficial address, as you can set work accounts to automatically forward to your Gmail address, and set the replies to appear as if they’re coming from the address that originally received them.

You can even cross-connect multiple Gmail accounts through one interface, elevating your inbox past “multi-tasking” and into “self-referential meta-multi-tasking.” That’s enough cyber-sounding syllables to qualify for a research grant.

2. Fuser

Not everything online (or anything even remotely near it) is about work, which is why we spend so much time on statuses and social networks. (We also dearly wish the plural of “status” was “statii,” but that’s just because we like cool words.) The problem is that terminal low-point between multiple networks and time taken, where you spend so much time switching sites and logging in, you lose out on actually using them.

That’s where Fuser steps in.

Fuser

Fuser

It’s only in beta, but Fuser’s core statement is one everyone can get behind: “We believe users have the right to access and manage their social world at any time and by whatever means they choose. That communication data is the property of the user, not the service provider.” Fuser provides a central hub, combining your email with your Twitter, Facebook, and whatever else you could want in one place. This means that if you manage to establish it at work as your e-mail client, it won’t be obvious when you’re really twittering away your day!

3. OtherInbox

OtherInbox is such an incredible email uncluttering service, it does some of the steps for you. Connect your main email account and it will automatically generate a spamcatcher you can use to sign-up for other online services. It will then automatically filter those messages into a secondary storage, where you can check them without the cruel of trick of thinking “OH A MESSAGE,” that beautiful Inbox (1) boldness attracting you from across the room, only to find out that you’ve signed up for 3% off orders of over $100 from RandomOnlineScam.com.

OtherInbox

OtherInbox

OtherInbox automatically organizes your messages, leaving regular contacts in your inbox and sorting all your folders, organizing them so intelligently that you don’t even need to create them or set filters. When it notices a shopping receipt, it automatically organizes all follow-up annoyances from that same store in one pile instead of polluting your inbox with repeating messages. An excellent idea.

4. Hotmail

It may be an antique by online standards, but it’s still useful. Hotmail offers simple email aggregation services and organization. It might not have the more advanced features of Gmail or OtherInbox, but for the occasional user still comfortable with the interface, it’s a useful tool.

Hotmail

Hotmail

5. GMX Mail

Alternative email provider GMX Mail offers an instant import service for new users. Aware that anyone who doesn’t have an email address already is probably too busy banging rocks together to sign-up for a new service, the address generation is an automatic part of signing up and it allows you to move everything to a clean new home, already full of folders. Better still, it automatically blesses you with that nirvanic state of “inbox zero” (if only for a moment!) in one fell swoop.

GMX Mail

GMX Mail

Another benefit is increased file size limitations, offering a much more competitive 50 MB attachment limit. That alone makes it an attractive service, though you won’t need that to set up folders for your old mail, because none of those services allowed attachments that big in the first place. You can then easily file all your incoming mail into new folders or import your old structures.  You can even speed up the process with the free Mail Collector add-on.

GMX Mail Collector

GMX Mail Collector

Image credit: Yuri_Arcurs / iStockphoto

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