Review of SaneBox Email Sorting and Triage Service

SaneBox reduces your email inbox down to the most important emails

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SaneBox - Email Sorting and Triage Service. SaneBox, Inc.

SaneBox does a great and helpful job separating the emails you need to see now from those you can consume at leisure, reserving your inbox for the former.

SaneBox works with any IMAP account (including Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, and Exchange) and is pretty accurate, but its focus on senders instead of individual emails can lead to misplaced emails. A version to run on your own servers might be handy, too.

Pros

  • SaneBox reduces your email inbox down to the most important emails
  • Quite accurate, SaneBox is appropriately picky about what makes it to your inbox
  • You can easily postpone emails with SaneBox, too, and get reminders about sent messages that received no reply

Cons

  • SaneBox's focus on judging senders and not individual messages can have it misplace certain mail
  • It would be swell if SaneBox could perform even more tasks (say, suggesting replies) automatically
  • SaneBox does not work locally and requires an IMAP or Exchange account

Description of Sanebox's Services

  • SaneBox identifies the important messages in your email inbox.
  • All non-critical email is moved to a special folder ("@SaneLater"); with Gmail, SaneBox can also label it while leaving it in the inbox.
  • The most recent 5,000 messages are classified, older emails moved to a temporary archive folder (from which SaneBox will automatically fetch them once there's room for them in inbox and @SaneLater etc.).
  • SaneBox can classify with up to five categories: top, important, consume at leisure, newsletters, and transactional mail.
  • You can keep things simple with only two categories—important or not—, of course, or add custom folders for training (looking at message senders or subjects).
  • Moving mail to special folders ("@SaneTomorrow" and "@SaneNextWeek", for instance) lets you defer emails for any time. SaneBox will return them to their folders when the time has come.
  • For outgoing mail, a Bcc: copy to SaneBox sets up a reminder: if you do not get a reply within the (very flexible, from minutes to years) specified time, SaneBox returns the original message to your inbox.
  • SaneBox lets you set up reminders not connected to sent emails—triggered just by time—as well.
  • You can train SaneBox by moving emails to the desired folder; moving to "@SaneBlackHole" creates a filter to ignore a sender.
  • SaneBox can monitor your email account's spam folder for important messages.
  • Sane Attachments saves attached files to your Dropbox; optionally, you can have SaneBox delete these detached files from the emails, too, or have them replaced with links to Dropbox.
  • Connecting to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter lets SaneBox learn about people you know through these social networks. SaneBox for Business integrates with Salesforce.com as well.
  • A motivating weekly (or monthly) report gives a graphical account of what kind of mail you got, and how you dealt with it.
  • SaneBox supports Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, iCloud Mail, AIM and AOL Mail, Exchange and any IMAP email account.

Expert Review of SaneBox

Do you open emails in order, jumping from culinary newsletter to critical team talk to a curious friend to caring family—and back; or do you scan your inbox, open what look like the most important emails first and leave the rest for later?

How about having a robot go over your inbox and do the sorting? The robot could be better than using filters, too: you don't have to set up or maintain any criteria and actions.

A Helpful Email Sorter

All SaneBox (the robot) needs is access to your email account. It works with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, iCloud Mail, AIM and AOL Mail, Exchange and any other IMAP or WebDAV email service. For Gmail, you can decide whether you want it to radically clean your inbox of unimportant mail—a decision you can always change later. With other accounts, emails are always filed in folders.

Once set up, SaneBox gets busy filing mail (to the "@SaneLater" folder for emails that can wait).

Initial classification can take a while, but new messages are moved just about instantly.

SaneBox's utility lies in its correctly spotting important emails. Not perfect, SaneBox fares well enough and is sensibly discriminating about who it allows access to your inbox. What can offset SaneBox is its focus on senders. Messages to mailing lists from otherwise key senders can get misclassified, for instance, as can get important mail from people SaneBox has not seen before. One way to remedy the latter is integration with social networking sites. SaneBox can link up with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Training SaneBox and Custom Folders

To get nearer to automatic perfection, you can train SaneBox. Usually, moving the message to the "@SaneLater" folder or to the inbox will do the trick, and you can set up SaneBox to ignore a sender altogether by moving a message from them to "@SaneBlackHole". On the SaneBox site, you can view all these custom filters—and edit or delete them, of course.

Speaking of filters and customization: SaneBox offers optional labels to further categorize mail ("@SaneTop" for only the most important mail, "@SaneNews" for newsletters and "@SaneBulk" for notifications and the like). You can also set up your own folders and train SaneBox by moving messages to them. It's a pity, though, that these categories only work by sender or subject (which filters you can set up manually) and cannot discern messages by other content and attributes.

Every week or month, if you desire, SaneBox sends you a graphical breakdown of the emails you've received in all the categories you have enabled—and in how timely a manner (if at all) you've dealt with it. You also get marks for efficient email habits—dealing with important emails promptly while not racing to those that can wait, for example.

Deferring Emails and Follow-Up Reminders

In addition to automatically keeping your Inbox clean and important, SaneBox lets you take action, too—or defer it: moving mail to the "@SaneTomorrow" or "@SaneNextWeek" has it re-appear in the Inbox automatically in one or seven days, for example, and you can set up folders for custom deferment intervals.

If the action for which you are waiting is not your own but a recipient's, you can send a blind carbon copy (Bcc) copy to SaneBox and get reminded in smart and sane a manner: if SaneBox does not detect a reply to your message within the specified time, it moves the sent mail back to your inbox as a reminder—and chance to easily re-send. Setting the timeframe is easy, and you can be flexible: SaneBox understands something like "3d5h"—three days and five hours from now—, but also fixed dates and times such as "tue" for Tuesday or "Mar15-9am" for March 15 at 9am.

More Sanity for Email Attachments

The attachments that come with emails may be just as important as the messages themselves—but much less important to keep. SaneBox can help you sort that situation, too: you can have it save incoming files (exceeding a certain size) to a Dropbox account and, optionally, remove the documents from the emails altogether or replace them with links to Dropbox.

All in all, SaneBox is very handy an email bot.

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