10 Chrome extensions to juice up Gmail

From tracking emails to managing attachments to adding more features to its redesigned web interface, these Chrome extensions will help you be more productive in Gmail.

Chrome extensions/support for Gmail

There are tons of Chrome extensions that add features to Gmail and enhance its interface. This article collects the ones we’ve found to be the most useful.

This spring Google launched a redesign of the Gmail web interface that added several new features — potentially making some extensions obsolete or inoperable. After the relaunch, we re-tested all the extensions in this article to be sure they’re still useful and work properly with the updated interface.

They do everything from making handy little interface tweaks to adding sophisticated functions to Gmail. Some have been around for several years, while some were released a few months ago — but all can be useful additions to your Gmail experience.

To be clear: We don’t recommend installing these extensions all at once — too many extensions installed on any browser can bog down its performance. Instead, consider this list and pick the ones that give the features you want most in Gmail.

1. Checker Plus for Gmail or Notifier for Gmail

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Checker plus for Gmail Howard Wen / IDG

Checker Plus for Gmail notifies you of new emails with pop-up windows in the lower-right corner of your computer’s desktop. Each pop-up shows a preview of the email’s first few lines. Click the Checker Plus icon on the Chrome extensions toolbar to open a panel from the top of your Chrome window that lists your unread emails.

You can read them from this panel (or have Checker Plus read them aloud to you), delete them, or perform other actions on them without going to your Gmail main page. You can even compose a new email from the panel.

You can monitor multiple Gmail accounts using this extension. According to the developer, Checker Plus doesn’t restrict the number of Google user accounts you can add to it, but the Gmail servers appear to allow only about 10 accounts to be simultaneously accessed by one computer.

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Notifier for Gmail Howard Wen / IDG

If you don’t need all the features of Checker Plus for Gmail, then Notifier for Gmail, shown above, gets the job done. It uses a lot less of your computer’s memory than Checker Plus, so it might run faster if you’re using Chrome on an older, slower computer.

Like Checker Plus, Notifier for Gmail pops up a notification window in the lower-right corner of your desktop for every incoming email, showing the first snippet of text in it. And as with Checker Plus, you can click the Notifier for Gmail icon on the Chrome extension toolbar to open a panel where you can read an unread email. From the panel window, you can also delete the message, mark it as read/unread, or mark it as spam. You can add up to five Gmail accounts to this extension, and switch among them.

2. Gmelius

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Gmelius Gmelius

This feature-packed extension is like a steroid shot for Gmail. Gmelius lets you tweak many little things about the Gmail interface, such as forcing the Cc or Bcc field to always appear in the email compose window, or automatically sizing down large images embedded in emails, and it does what Attachment Icons for Gmail and Row Highlighter for Gmail do separately: changing the default paperclip icon for attachments to an icon that better represents the file type for the attached file, and highlighting an email heading on your Gmail main page when you hover over it.

Gmelius also includes a host of larger functions, including email templates, the ability to schedule emails to be sent later, reminders to follow up with recipients who haven’t responded, and email tracking with read receipts so you’ll know which emails have been read. Paid business plans start at $5 per user per month and include advanced features such as recurring emails and detailed activity reports.

3. Mailtrack

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Mailtrack Howard Wen / IDG

Speaking of email tracking, there are several extensions that can track the emails you send and confirm whenever one is opened by its recipient. Most charge for this service, but many also allow you to send a limited number of tracked emails for free.

Mailtrack is one of the most highly rated and popular extensions in the Chrome Web Store, likely because the free plan lets you send an unlimited number of tracked emails.  Gmelius offers unlimited email tracking under a free plan, but Mailtrack is a good option if you prefer an extension that doesn’t have as many extra, unrelated features as Gmelius does.

Unlike Gmelius and other trackers, Mailtrack doesn’t include a send-later feature that lets you set an email to be sent on a date or at a time that you pick. Advanced features such as daily activity reports, click tracking, and reminders if recipients haven’t opened your email after a period of time are available only under Mailtrack’s Pro plan, which costs $5 per month.

4. Boomerang for Gmail

Chrome extension for Gmail - Boomerang Howard Wen / IDG

Like Mailtrack, Boomerang for Gmail offers email tracking features including read receipts, response tracking, follow-up reminders, and click tracking. But where the extension really shines is in the time control it gives you over emails you send and receive.

Boomerang adds a big red “Send Later” button to the email composition toolbar of Gmail. Clicking it opens a panel where you set a day and time when you want the email to be sent. The extension also has a “dismiss this email now and return it to me later” function that’s similar to Gmail’s Snooze feature, added in the April redesign. And Boomerang’s Inbox Pause feature stops new email from arriving in your inbox at times you designate, so you can focus on your work.

Another feature you might (or might not) find useful is Respondable, a digital assistant that uses AI to determine how likely your email is to get a response and makes suggestions for improving your text.

Boomerang lets you use any of the above features for free for up to 10 emails per month. Pay for a subscription plan, starting at $5 monthly, and you can use these functions with an unlimited number of emails.

5. PixelBlock

Chrome extension for Gmail - PixelBlock Howard Wen / IDG

Not a fan of email tracking, at least when it comes to messages that are sent to you? If you get an email that has a tracker applied to it, PixelBlock can stop it from reporting back to the sender that you’ve opened their email.

With PixelBlock, you can tell an email has a tracker only after you open it. If it is, you’ll see an icon of a crossed-out red eye by the sender’s name. Clicking this icon pops open a callout that shows the name of the tracking service, if it can be identified.

6. Dittach

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Dittach Howard Wen / IDG

Ever lose track of a file that arrived as an email attachment at some point in the past? Of course you have. Dittach can help: It adds a column on the right side of your Gmail main page that shows thumbnails of all your email attachments, with the most recently dated at top. You can scroll through this column to see thumbnails for attachments in older emails, or use the search function to zero in on the right attachment. Dittach can also sort your stored attachments by category (docs, movies, music other, PDFs, photos) to make it easier for you to find what you want.

Clicking a thumbnail opens a larger preview of the attachment, and you can then delete, download or share the attachment, or open the email it’s attached to. (If you delete the attachment, the original email it was attached to still remains.)  

7. Convert Google Docs to Gmail Drafts

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Convert Google Docs to Gmail Drafts Howard Wen / IDG

The name Convert Google Docs to Gmail Drafts says it all: the idea is that you can use Google Docs to compose a sophisticated-looking email. It could, for instance, include charts that are available in Google Docs. In the Google Docs window of the document you’re working on, the extension adds a blue “Open in Gmail” button in the upper-right corner. Click it, and the document will be saved as an email draft in Gmail. Your advanced layout will be preserved when you send it out from Gmail.

8. Gmail Sender Icons

Chrome extension for Gmail - Sender Icons Howard Wen / IDG

On your Gmail main page, Gmail Sender Icons labels each email subject heading with the domain of the sender’s email address and the domain’s favicon. Being able to quickly see the sender’s email domain without needing to open their email first can serve as a safety precaution. For example, a phishing email may claim in its subject line that it’s an important email from Dropbox, but it won’t be sent from dropbox.com. This extension highlights to you the domain it was really sent from.

9. Attachment Icons for Gmail

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Attachment Icons for Gmail Howard Wen / IDG

Before Gmail’s redesign, all email attachments were indicated in your inbox listing with a simple paperclip icon. Now, each attachment is depicted as an icon with a beginning portion of its filename. This icon is set below the email’s subject heading, and its design represents what the attached file is — a PDF, for example — so you know what you’re getting before you click on it.

But this enhanced icon appears only when the “Display density” of the main page is set to “Default.” If you set it to “Comfortable” or “Compact” (so that you can see more subject headings on the main page at once), then your emails that have attachments are denoted with the simple paperclip icon.

The Attachment Icons for Gmail extension changes the paperclip icon that appears in the “Comfortable” and “Compact” display modes to one that’s more representative of the attached file. So if the attachment is a PDF, the icon becomes a PDF document symbol. Attachment Icons also assigns unique icons for other file types, like media (image, sound, video) and Microsoft Office documents (Excel, PowerPoint, Word).

True, the Gmelius extension does the same thing, and a whole lot more. But if you simply want an easy way to identify attachment types in any display mode and you aren’t looking for a do-it-all-extension, give Attachment Icons a try.

10. Row Highlighter for Gmail

Chrome extensions for Gmail - Row Highlighter for Gmail Howard Wen / IDG

Here’s another extension with a single purpose: On your Gmail main page, Row Highlighter for Gmail highlights the heading of an email when you hover the pointer over it. Nothing earth-shattering here; it just provides a simple visual aid when you’re going through your emails skimming headlines to find the one you need to open. You can customize the highlight color; two colors can be selected to differentiate between an email that has been marked as read or unread.

This article was originally published in September 2015 and updated in June 2018.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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