Posted by: Ole | February 24, 2009

Wrangling Mail.app

Having just made the switch from PC to Mac, while changing position from developer to project manager, I found myself needing to set up my Mail.app for a zero-bounce system.

I needed an overview of which emails I still needed to deal with, while never missing an important mail. This is my setup. Follow these instructions, and I promise you, you will be a happier person.

Set the ground rules
You need one, and only one, rule in your Mail.app. Every mail that comes in, needs to be flagged. Simple as that. We’ll get back to that later.

Install Widemail
Widemail allows you to show your mail in two columns. Having the list in one, and the chosen mail in the other. Widemail also lets you display stuff like sender and subject in the same field in the list, for maximum readability.

You can download Widemail here: http://www.daneharnett.com/widemail/
This is my configuration of Widemail. Use it if you want.

picture-7picture-8

Once Widemail is set up, you need to rearrange your headers in Mail.
picture-12

The way I have it, it’s Threads, Read/Unread, Widemail and Flags.

Tag your emails
Another tool I use, is Mailtags. Basically, once you go zero-bounce on your email, you’ll find yourself having reacted to an email, but knowing that you’ll need the info in it close by, you’ll leave in your inbox, thereby cluttering your view.

Mailtags allows you to tag emails with tags that you can later find using a Smart Folder. Every time you have a mail you’ll need later, but doesn’t need a reaction,  assign it a tag. I use “ref”, but you can use whatever you want.

You can download Mailtags here: http://www.indev.ca/MailTags.html, and use this configuration if you want:

picture-9

Smart folders
Forget your Inbox. That’s where mails go to die. In your day to day work, you’ll be using Smart Folders. These are the ones you’ll need:

Incoming
Set this to show all mails with a flag. This will be your basis-folder.

Today
Set this to show all mails, regardless of flags, received today. This will give you a good overview, in case you’re too quick to unflag an email.

This Month
Same deal, just for the month

Reference
This is the folder you set up to show all mails tagged with “ref”, or whatever you chose.

Threads
Sometimes you get a ton of mails, all revolving around the same subject. For that, you’ll need to group them into threads.

  1. Right click your toolbar, and select Customize Toolbar
  2. Drag this set of buttons onto it:picture-6

Now you can enable Threads, which will collapse all related messages into conversations, allowing you to focus on them as one group.

Shortcuts
Day to day, you really don’t want to be using your mouse. You need to familiarize yourself with Mail.app’s keyboard shortcuts, and even create some of your own. These are the ones I use religiously:

SHIFT-CMD-L
Flag/unflag a mail.

SHIFT-CMD-M
Show/hide the Mailboxes column.

SHIFT-CMD-Y
Add sender to address book.

CMD-Y
Quick look the messages attachments

CMD-R
Reply

SHIFT-CMD-R
Reply to all

SHIFT-CMD-F
Forward

SHIFT-CMD-D
Send

SHIFT-CMD-E
Refresh your Smart Folder. This is a custom one that you need to set up in Keyboard & Mouse settings. Just create a new shortcut for Mail, to point to the “Rebuild” menu-item.

Summary
When you have all this set up, you’ll be ready to go zero-bounce. Every time you get an email, it will appear in your Incoming folder. From there, you can react to it. If it does no longer need an immediate action from you, unflag it and refresh your Smart Folder. The mail will no longer be cluttering your inbox, our your mind.

In short. You get a new mail, and open it. You CMD-Y to review the attachment. CMD-R to reply. SHIFT-CMD-D to send your answer. SHIFT-CMD-L to unflag the mail. SHIFT-CMD-E to refresh your Smart Folder. And it’s gone.

If you think you’re going to need the mail later on, assign a tag to it, and then unflag it. It will always be available in your Reference Smart Folder. That gives you peace of mind, and the guts to remove mails that you don’t need right now, but are afraid will get lost in the masses of your actual Inbox.

Give it a spin. I promise you’ll be happier.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Congrats with your switch 🙂

  2. I use three fingers to flick between mails

    • Nice.. I guess you could do all of the above using just gestures and MultiClutch actually..

  3. YES! Swipe right to unflag. Swipe left to refresh the view.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: