There’s more to email than missives to the boss and spam from strangers with an eerily accurate takes on your love life. From inside your inbox you can post to social media, share photos, fire off urgent texts, write up blog posts and even control your smart home. Here are nine clever ways to use email that you didn’t already know about*.
*Well maybe you know some of them. You’re a pretty smart bunch.
1. Update your Facebook status
You have your very own secret Facebook email address. You can find it by opening the Settings page then choosing Mobile, though you’ll need to have the Facebook texts service set up for this to work (also on the Mobile page).
If the body of the email is empty, the subject line is posted as your status. Attach a photo or video and the subject line becomes the caption — note that photos and videos will be displayed publicly by default.
2. Post to Tumblr
Not to be outdone by Facebook, Tumblr has its own post-by-email mechanism too. Delve into Settings and you’ll see the email address listed (like several other services, you can reset it if you think someone else knows what it is).
From your email inbox you can create text, photo, link, quote and chat posts, complete with tags if required — Tumblr has put up a full set of instructions for you to refer to. You can even use Markdown for formatting if you like.
3. Send an SMS
To be honest we could do a list of 50 email tricks involving IFTTT recipes, but this is one of the best of them if you happen to be without your phone (or only have a Wi-Fi connection available) and need to send an urgent SMS.
Use Email as your recipe trigger and Android SMS as the action, then set the subject line as the contact number and the body as the text message itself. iOS SMSes can’t be sent because IFTTT isn’t allowed the required access.
4. Save to Evernote
You’d expect Evernote to have some kind of upload-via-email function: It’s available on just about every platform out there and ties in with all kinds of other services. Your personal address is usually on the account settings page.
Send an email in to this address to create a note: the subject line becomes the title and the body becomes the note. You can choose particular notebooks, as well as add tags and reminders, by following the instructions given here.
5. Upload photos to Flickr
Dive into your Flickr settings or follow this link (when logged in) to find out what your upload-via-email address is (it’s probably something nonsensical). Send an email with photos attached to add them to your Flickr account.
The subject line serves as a title for your photo(s) while the body of the email can be used as a description field. If you want to add tags or deviate from your default privacy settings, follow the instructions provided by Flickr.
6. Add to your to do list
The much-loved Remember The Milk is one to do list app with email functionality included. Your own individual add-via-email address is somewhere behind the Settings link (listed as Inbox Email Address).
Again, there are a number of ways to structure your email, covered in the official help page. The simplest approach is to write your task in the subject line, leaving the email body empty, to add it to your default list.
7. Upload files to Box
One of the advantages Box has over the more well-known Dropbox is that it gives you an upload-via-email address. To find it, head to the folder you want to upload to, then choose More, Properties and Email Options.
Tick the box labelled Allow uploads to this folder via email and you’re good to go. You can then email files to the address shown (note there may be some size and storage restrictions to consider based on your current Box plan).
8. Post to WordPress
If you have a WordPress.com blog you can post straight to it via email (a self-hosted installation requires a plugin). Choose Dashboard and then My Blogs and make sure Post by Email is enabled under Screen Options.
The email’s subject line is used as the post’s title, with the body providing the actual content for the post. Image attachments can be used to add photos, and there are a bunch of shortcodes you can take advantage of too.
9. Turn off the lights
OK, we’re cheating with another IFTTT one, but it’s kind of nifty. Choose Email as your trigger and Philips Hue as your action and you can then enjoy playing around with the various options that IFTTT makes available.
You can turn your Hue-enabled lights on or off, change their colour, blink or dim them, or even apply a random colour. Turning them off is perhaps the most practical, in case you forgot to do it before you left for the office.