If you’re a Gmail (s goog) user who’s coveted third-party Outlook (s msft) email productivity add-ons like Xobni or Gist, you might like to check out Webyog’s new MailBrowser. It’s a free plugin for Firefox and IE (with Chrome support on its way) that aims to extend the contact and attachment management capabilities of Gmail.
Getting started is straightforward: Download and install the plugin (versions available for both Windows and Mac) and give it your Gmail account credentials (which are only stored locally on your machine, as it’s not a web app). It uses IMAP to connect to your Gmail and Google Apps accounts; once connected, it trawls through your emails looking for contacts and attachments. As soon as it’s finished indexing your emails, you’re ready to go.
MailBrowser sits as a sidebar in your browser that you can expand or collapse as needed, and sports two main tabs: “Contacts” and “Files.” By default, it opens on the “Contacts” tab, displaying an alphabetized list. If, like me, your list of contacts is long and unwieldy, the built-in search functionality is useful. Clicking on a contact’s name gives you a more detailed view, with a photo (if available), URLs, a bio and any recent conversations. You can add tags and notes, “star” important contacts and create Google Calendar events for a contact right from the interface.
The “Files” tab displays a list of files you’ve received, with rich previews available, enabling you to skim through them quickly to find the files you need. The search functionality also works well with attachments.
MailBrowser is currently in beta so you may find some gremlins (I had some problems importing mail from one of my older Gmail accounts, for example), but it’s nonetheless a useful plugin that adds better contact management capabilities to the Google mail service. While it doesn’t yet have the power of tools like Xobni and Gist, it’s a great platform to build on, and Webyog’s Rohit Nadhani says that there are plans for many more Xobni-like features in MailBrowser, including social media integration, integration with enterprise apps (like Salesforce) and the ability to sort contacts by importance.
Have you tried MailBrowser? let us know what you think of it, and how it compares to tools like Xobni and Gist, below.