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I depend on Mail quite a bit throughout the day and now that it has MS Exchange support I'm using it for work email too. So therefore it's quite easy to get overwhelmed with the volume of mail that you could be getting if you're even remotely involved in an organization, corporate environment or have a lot of friends that send you lots of junk stuff. So here are 10 Tips to help you maximize your use of Apple's Mail app.


1. Use Rules to Automatically Deal with incoming Mail


As the old saying goes, out of sight out of mind. Once an email drifts down beyond the scroll line for me there's a good chance that I'll forget all about it. At least if it goes into a folder structure, I'll be reminded of what's important and what's not. You can setup as many folders (ie. Mailboxes)  "On My Mac" as you need. You can then setup Rules to deal with the bulk of the email you get. For example, I have a folder called "From the Boss". Any emails I get from her automatically go into that folder. That way I won't have to sift through tons of other email to look for that one with the details of the report I was supposed to be working on. 


2. Use IMAP instead of POP email


Not all email providers support IMAP, but if you have more than one computer or device that you check email on, you definitely should investigate getting an email account on a service that supports IMAP. For example, MobileMe and GMail are IMAP based. This means that when you check your email on one device, it's marked read on all your other devices. If you move it to a folder, it's moved. So you don't end up getting the same email to have to click through on every computer you use. Also with IMAP you can have folders that reside on the server too. This way if you do read an email and file it, you can you still retrieve it on any computer or device such as in iPhone or iPod touch.

3. Use the Photo Browser


If you use iPhoto to store pictures, there's no reason to launch iPhoto just to email one of the pics you have there. Just bring up the Photo Browser from the Window menu and you'll have access to your entire library without iPhoto even being open. (thanks Macworld). You can also click the Photo Browser button on the New Message window. Probably more useful that way.


4. See just your unread mail from all of your accounts


I have several email accounts in Mail. Although there is one unified Inbox, I want the option of just seeing ONLY Unread messages from all accounts at the same time. So I setup a Smart Mailbox for this. It works great.


5. Turn on BCC


Phyllis did a great job explaining the use of BCC. I still run into people that don't even know what BCC stands for let alone when they would use it or how to turn it on. BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) isn't always on by default in Mail. Bring up the New Message window and use the little popup menu on the left to enable BCC. 


6. Use Stationery


Apple has several useful Stationery Templates built-in. These are great when you want to send a greeting and have it look a little nicer than just plain text. Just click the Show Stationery button on the New Message Window. Also check out the Stationery Pack 2 from equinux.


7. Use Redirect


I sometimes get emails that are more appropriate for someone else to handle at work. However, rather than forward the message, I want the message to go to the new person, but when they hit Reply I want the reply to automatically be addressed to the original sender. So I use Redirect instead of Forward. 


8. Use Send Again


It never fails. You send an email to a list of people and you forgot to send it to someone that needs it. You don't have to start over. Just go to your Sent items, find the message and hit Send Again from the Message Menu. The message will come up as if you've never sent it and you can then readdress it to the contact or contacts that you want to send it to now. 


9. Address Book Photos


I'm a visual guy. It's much quicker for me to identify a person by face than by name. My brain just works faster with images. So I go out of my way to make sure as many of my Contacts in Address Book have Contact Photos associated with them. This way not only does their picture come up when my iPhone rings, but it also appears to the right of the email that I get from them. 


10. Use Address Book Groups


I have several groups in Address Book. These come in handy to quickly get to a person or business that I want to call or a group of people that I want to email. So I just start typing the name of the group in the BCC field (yes do it there instead of To:) and the group comes up. I know that the email will go to all of those contacts. 


Bonus Tip: Mail a webpage from Safari


One of my favorite Mail/Safari features is the ability to email the current page I'm viewing in Safari right in the body of the email message. Just surf to the page you want to send and hit Command-I on your keyboard while in Safari. The page will be sent over to a New Message in Mail. You can even edit it and delete portions you don't want to send like the ad that appeared at the top of this page.

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18 Responses to 10 Tips for Apple Mail

  1. Bill W., Mug Det. says:

    Thanks, Terry, very useful, time-saving features of mail. I especially like Use Direct and Use Send Again. I’ve saved these tips for easy reference.

  2. AdamC says:

    Thanks for the tip.

  3. Dan says:

    Good job, Terry. The only flaw in a great tips report is the misspelling of “MobieMe” and “GMall.” Looks like the “i” and “l” keys might be getting dyslexic.

  4. Mike K says:

    Thank you! You uncovered several things I had not been using! Like the iPhoto Browser and Mail a web Page! Great stuff!

  5. David Steward says:

    The best tip is to install Widemail

    It splits the screen vertically as opposed to the standard horizontal split between the list of messages in a mailbox and the message being viewed.


  6. MacSmiley says:

    Well, the BCC idea is not only an Apple Mail tip. I actively campaign for the BCC field amongst all my email groups to promote its use by all my contacts, be they PCs, Macs, or Linuxes.

  7. Dak says:


    NOT Stationary!!!!!!

  8. Dan says:

    @Dak: Terry already admitted that he was hitting the eggnog while blogging.

  9. Didier says:

    for Apple Mail tips look at
    (explore the different topics in the pop-up on the upper right)

    Thanks for your inspirations, Terry.

    Have a good week and … Happy new year !


  10. Diana says:

    This is awesome, Terry. Thanks!
    One of my biggest concerns is saving old emails for future reference. In an upgrade I lost a whole bunch. With IMAP, you can save them to a server? Would that be MobileMe? i’m gonna have to work this out. I currently access my mail on a laptop, desktop, and iPhone, and since I haven’t been using IMAP for any of my accounts, it does get rather repetitive. πŸ™‚
    Happy new year!

    • Terry White says:

      Thanks Diana,
      Yes, with IMAP the mail can stay on the server. Just be careful as people sometimes run out of server space because they never delete their mail and eventually it does pile up. In your case of multiple devices IMAP is the way to go!

  11. cathy chappell says:

    When I type in a name for a new email, a whole bunch of possibilities come up for some people – like an old out of date email address, along with their
    current address. I also use an iPhone. The extra information does not show up
    in my iPhone contacts or my email address book. How do I get rid of the extra stuff. It is driving me crazy.

  12. cathy chappell says:

    Oh my gosh!!!! You have saved my elife. Thank you so much for
    the simple directions. I am getting my address book cleaned out.
    Thank you, thank you.

  13. Terry White says:

    No problem Cathy. Glad I could help πŸ™‚

  14. SΓ©b Velpeau says:

    You said “On Mail choose Window->Previous Recipients and once the dialog box appears remove the ones you don’t want anymore.” It works fine for Apple desktop, but how to clean mispelled recipient on iPhone or iPod Touch Mail application.