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Build a 3-Step Zap to Automatically Summarize Long Emails

With OpenAI and no-code automation, you can easily build a simple tool to quickly summarize all of your long emails. We'll show you how to build the 3-step automation in this no-code tutorial.

Written by
Matt Jasinski
and

February 8, 2023

Having your inbox bombarded every day with lengthy emails is just part of the modern workplace. But you don’t have to read through every message yourself.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how you can automatically summarize all of your long emails with AI and no-code tools. 

We’ll start with a quick overview of how it all works, then we’ll give you detailed step-by-step instructions so you can build it yourself. 

Automation Overview

The automation consists of three simple steps.

First, we send any email we want to summarize to this customized Zapier inbox. That triggers the automation to run. 

Then, the automation sends a prompt to OpenAI to get a summary of the email.

 

Finally, we can send the resulting summary to Slack, another Email, or anywhere else we’d like to get the output. 

With the complete automation, all you have to do is forward an email to the Zapier inbox. Wait just a moment, and you’ll get an AI-generated summary in your inbox. 

Now let’s take a look at building this automation step by step. 

Trigger: Send an email to a Zapier inbox

First, create a new Zap, and choose “Email by Zapier” as the trigger. Using Email by Zapier will allow you to trigger the automation immediately whenever you forward an email.

If you use Gmail or Outlook or a similar app as the trigger, you’ll have to wait 5 to 15 minutes for the automation to actually trigger. You’ll have to wait longer if you’ve got a lower subscription tier. 

But we don’t build automations with AI tools because we want to wait! So select Email by Zapier as the app for your trigger, and choose “New Inbound Email” as the event. 

Now, you can create a Zapier inbox where you’ll forward any email that you want to summarize. Give the inbox a name, like “summarizebot”, and copy the address to your clipboard. Click “Continue”. 

Then, in another window, send or forward an email to the Zapier address, and test the trigger. 

Action: Send a Prompt to OpenAI

Next, add a new action to the automation and select “OpenAI (ChatGPT)” as the app. 

Choose “Send Prompt” as the event. 

You’ll need an OpenAI account with a payment method on file to use this step. Go to Openai.com, click on “API”, then click on “Signup” to create an account. Note that each account with a unique phone number will come with $15 worth of free credits. 

To add a payment method and set usage limits, click on your profile in the top right. Under billing, you’ll see several options. 

OpenAI’s API Pricing

While you will get charged for using OpenAI’s API, the rates are pretty reasonable. The exact price will depend on the language model you choose, but even our heavy use at XRay has only ever cost us $15/mo or less.

OpenAI’s pricing uses a “token” system, and charges between $0.0004 and $0.02 per 1,000 tokens. When using language processing, 1,000 tokens is equivalent to about 750 words. 

Connecting Your OpenAI Account to Zapier

To connect your OpenAI account to Zapier, click on “API Keys” under “User” on the left of the screen. Create a new secret key and copy it to your clipboard, then paste it into Zapier to authorize your integration. 

Select your newly authorized account, and click “Continue”. 

Before you start configuring the step, note that sending prompts through the Zapier integration will use tokens and be added to your monthly bill, even if you’re using Zapier’s testing functions. 

The charges probably won’t amount to much, but if you want to avoid racking up a bill while you’re building this automation, we recommend testing out the prompt directly through ChatGPT instead. 

Once you’ve crafted the prompt you’d like, you can just copy and paste it into Zapier.

Writing a Prompt for OpenAI

For our example prompt, we’ll stick with something simple:

“Briefly summarize the following email. Make a bulleted list of any action items required by the email.” 

After you enter your prompt into the field, make sure to insert the body of the email retrieved from the trigger. 

Then test the step to get the output. 

Email the AI-Generated Summary

Finally, you just need to add one more step that will send your summary wherever you’d like it to go. 

For this tutorial, we’ll just send the summary as an email back to the original sender.

Add a new action, and pick the email app that you use, like GMail, Outlook, or Email by Zapier and choose “Send email” (or a similar option) as the action.

Then, fill out the necessary fields to compose your email. To send the summary back to whoever requested it, just set the “To” address as the address of the original sender from the trigger. 

Then, add the AI-generated summary from Step 2 into the body of the email. When you test the step, you should see the summary appear in your inbox. 

Use AI to Start Saving Time

AI is quickly becoming an extremely useful tool to speed up anyone’s workflows, and it’s more accessible than ever. By combining a platform like OpenAI with no-code tools like Zapier, you can tear through a bloated inbox in a matter of seconds. 

If you’d like to learn more about workflow automation and AI tools, check out our blog or our YouTube channel. You can also follow XRay on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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