When you sign up for Sortd it asks you for permission to read and modify (but not delete) your email.

Why does Sortd need permission to read your mail?

Sortd displays it's own version of your gmail Inbox in fullscreen mode. The reason it's different from your Gmail Inbox is because it has some enhanced functionality, like the ability for you to drag emails onto your lists. In order for Sortd to generate this version of your Inbox it needs to access it using a non graphical backend interface that Google provides (the "Gmail API") and of course we could never do that without your permission.

When you drag an email onto one of your Sortd lists, no email data (other than the Thread Id and Sender, which we use for reference purposes) is actually stored on the Sortd servers - all of your email data remains in your Google account.

Ok, so you can read my mail but why do you need permission to modify it?

It wouldn't make much sense to give you a version of your Inbox that allows you to drag emails to your Sortd lists, but doesn't allow you to also archive and delete email while you're there. When you archive an email from your Sortd Inbox, it makes a request to archive that email via the Gmail API. In order to do that it needs your permission. Sortd also allows you to delete email using the trashcan icon, but it can only move email to the Gmail Trash / Bin. Sortd does not request permission to permanently delete your email, so it will not (and is in fact unable to) permanently delete any of your mail.

Sortd will NEVER do anything with your email in the background (i.e. without you doing something explicit), so if you are worried about the possibility that you might lose email as a result of installing Sortd - don't.  Sortd will archive an email in a few very specific cases:

  • If you click on the Archive icon on an email in your Sortd Inbox.
  • If you snooze an email (it will be archived but will return to your mailbox at the specified Snooze date).
  • If you mark an email that's been dragged onto one of your lists as Complete.

Other than those 3 cases, your Inbox will remain 100% untouched.

On a related note - if you specifically want Sortd to archive emails (in Gmail) when you drag them onto your Sortd lists you will find a setting for that.  By default, when you drag a mail it will hide it from your Sortd Inbox but it will have no impact on your Gmail Inbox whatsoever.

If you still have any concerns and you want to test Sortd on a throwaway Gmail account you can do that without any impact on your primary account.  You need to explicitly give Sortd permission to work with each individual Gmail account that you use.

For more detailed technical information please read this article

- Why does Sortd need Permissions?.