August 19, 2011

Shortmail – A Pint-Sized Email System

Shortmail aims to improve the way people feel about their email inboxes by eliminating the pitfalls of most traditional systems and taking a cue from Twitter. The web-app has tackled problems like poor organization, overflowing trash folders, and privacy issues by creating a system that emphasizes concise messages and prevents lengthy notes from getting through.

If you’re someone who complains about the burden of email on a daily basis, then you’re someone who could benefit from trying Shortmail. Twitter users can claim their handles on Shortmail, which makes getting signed up a quick and easy process. You can use Shortmail on your mobile device and integrate it with your existing Gmail account, or head directly to Shortmail when you want to check your messages, just as you would with any other web-based email provider. The difference between other email systems and Shortmail is that the web-app restricts all email messages to 500 characters – thereby forcing people to be concise and get straight to the point. Shortmail does not accept email attachments, offers no junk folders, and no labeling systems. Friends who send lengthy messages will receive automated responses from Shortmail encouraging them to edit down their emails to 500 characters or less to get through the system’s filters and into your inbox.

Public conversations – which look a lot like threaded comments – are another useful feature on Shortmail. Using the conversations feature, people can converse with others in an inclusive way that eliminates the need for forwarding messages to friends or CC’ing colleagues about ongoing business matters.

Practical Uses:

  • Cut down on the time you spend responding to emails each day
  • Communicate more effectively with colleagues
  • Stop marketing emails from getting into your inbox
  • Eliminate any messages that contain attachments

Insider Tips:

  • Emails that exceed 500 characters can still be retrieved in a quarantined area
  • Users can forward their Shortmail messages to Gmail
  • Shortmail will not accept messages with attachments
  • Most spam mail is eliminated by being caught in the word limit filters

What we liked:

  • Public conversations make it easy to keep coworkers in the loop
  • Important emails from family and friends won’t get lost in the shuffle
  • People who use Shortmail don’t have to worry about looking through junk folders
  • Friends who send lengthy emails will be reminded by Shortmail to send shorter messages

What we didn’t like:

  • Family members who are not tech-savvy might not understand why their emails are not going through, despite the explanatory note from Shortmail


Company Info:

  • Launched: June 2011
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Founded by: 410 Labs
  • Web site:


  • Free


  1. I tried Shortmail once. I mailed a ‘web-savvy’ friend who hated being forced to keep his reply under 500 characters. I don’t think I’ll continue using it.

    If there was a way for Shortmail to communicate that the email that you’ve just received is >500 characters, before you even open it, then it’d be very useful. Especially for contacting industry experts/famous people, who might not normally open emails from strangers.

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