You might be tempted to dismiss email as obsolete because it is no longer as popular as instant messaging and other types of online communication. But there’s more to email than receiving weekly newsletters and spam or managing business correspondence. With an email account you can send text messages, upload files, update your social media, and even control the smart technology in your home.
1. Send Text Messages
Sending texts from your email account may seem unnecessary, but it can be helpful if you’re away from your phone and need to send an urgent message. It’s also fairly simple to accomplish. Just open a new email draft and enter the recipient’s 10-digit phone number followed by their SMS gateway address. The gateway address usually matches the cell phone carrier. So, you’d email “@vtext.com” if their carrier is Verizon and “@tmomail.net” if it’s T-Mobile.
The person you’re messaging gets a text with your email address as the sender.
2. Post to Social Media
Websites like Facebook and WordPress give you a special email address when you open an account. You’ll usually find it listed on your account’s settings page. You can update your blog or status by sending an email to this address, which can be helpful if you can’t log into your account.
Depending on the platform, you may need to change additional settings before you can use this feature, but the process is similar to texting by email. Just start a new email draft and input the address in the “To” field. You can also post photos and videos by adding them as email attachments.
3. Upload Files
Some file hosting websites like Flickr and Box let you upload files to your account through email. Similar to Facebook and WordPress, sending files as email attachments to a special address uploads them to your account.
You’ll find the address in your settings on Flickr. If you want to use upload-by-email with Box, you have to change the settings of each folder you want to upload to individually.
Go to the intended folder, click “More -> Properties -> Email Options,” and check “Allow uploads to this folder via email.”
4. Start a Video Call
In addition to sending text messages and updating your social media accounts, you can use email to video call your friends, family, or business associates. If you have a Gmail and a Google+ account, you can launch Google’s communication platform Google Hangouts right from your Inbox.
Click on a name in the list of contacts on the left side of the page, and then click the video icon to start a video call.
Microsoft offers a similar feature that lets you launch Skype from your inbox in Outlook. Click the Skype icon near the top-right of the screen, and then click the plus sign to start a new conversation. Next, search for the person you want to contact, and if they’re available online, you can start a video call with them.
5. Recall an Email
If you’ve ever accidentally sent an unfinished email, noticed a typo after you pressed send, or just sent the wrong message to the wrong person, you’re not alone. Perhaps one of the most valuable things you can do with an email account besides sending emails is un-send them. Google added email recall functionality to all Gmail accounts back in 2015. Microsoft enabled their own undo feature, which gives you the option to recall and replace any email that you send, the following year.
To enable email recall with Gmail, go to “Settings -> Undo Send -> Enable Undo Send” and choose 5, 10, 15, or 30 seconds for your undo time limit. Whichever number you choose is your time limit to recall an email after you press Send.
To access the email recall function on Outlook, click on the Settings gear icon, choose “Options -> Mail -> Undo Send” and choose 5, 10, 15, or 30 seconds for your undo time limit.
6. Store Your Files
Your email account probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you’re looking for somewhere to store things online. But it’s a great option when you’re in a hurry and need a quick, reliable way to access files later. Moreover, email accounts have a lot of space. Google gives Gmail users 15G to share across their Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ accounts. Microsoft offers 15GB of storage space for free Outlook accounts and 50GB if you’re an Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscriber. Yahoo Mail grants its users 1TB of free storage.
7. Control Your Smart Home
Believe it or not, you can link Internet-enabled devices like smart outlets, light bulbs, and locks to your email account. The free web service, IFTTT, which allows you to connect various services using applets, makes this possible.
First, create a new applet. Then, set email as the trigger and a smart device like WeMo Light Switch, WeMo Slow Cooker, or Phillips Hue as the action. If you send an email to “firstname.lastname@example.org,” your smart device executes whichever action you specified when you created the applet.
Email might not be the fastest way to communicate over the Internet, but it’s one of the most reliable. Whether you have one account or several, the various uses of email extend far beyond just sending and receiving mail. Some benefits, like controlling smart tech with your email address, may not be practical, but they certainly showcase how versatile email can be.