Mail on the Mac could really use improvements for the modern remote-working age, but while we wait for Apple to innovate in an application most of us use all day, every day, here’s a few tips to help you use get more from it.
More powerful search
Apple’s Mail has its own search engine, but Spotlight search can search your email more effectively because it understands more terms. To use it, tap Command-space to enter Spotlight search, and then type “kind:mail” followed by your search term to dig deep into Mail.
You can also use the following commands to accelerate or refine the search you make: “kind:mail date:this week eggs” will find all the email received this week containing the word eggs. You can also group items using parentheses.
You can use the following to adjust your Spotlight search of Mail:
I use this a lot; not only is it more accurate, but I also find the results much easier to navigate.
An even more powerful junk filter
If a mailing list is refusing to honor your instruction to unsubscribe, and the junk filter just isn’t picking this up, try making a Rule to change things. This rule is going to gather all incoming emails form that domain and automatically delete it.
First take a look at the email you don’t want to receive and check its domain — unwantedspam.com, for example.
- Open Mail>Preferences and tap “Rules.”
- Now choose Add Rule.
- In the first conditions section, set From contains as your first criteria, and enter the email address used by those mails you no longer want to see.
- In the second actions section, choose Delete Message as the action you want performed.
- If you want to vet the mails before you delete them, choose Move Message to All Trash.
- You can add multiple email addresses to this rule in the first conditions section, just tap the Plus button.
Hurrah! You will no longer be bothered by those annoying messages.
A Mail tip for better team collaboration
You can use the default Mac apps to create email groups to use at work — team members, disparate project management groups, and the like. Once you’ve gathered the email addresses for these people, you can begin.
Select all the contacts using Command-click to choose non-consecutive addresses and then choose File>New Group from Selection and give your group a name.
In the future, when you want to email everyone, just begin to write the name of the group in the To, CC, or BCC field, and Mail should automatically insert the addresses of your selected group. This should make it much easier to send emails to everyone.
Make rules for teams
You can also use rules to gather emails by topic or by contents. You might be working on a new research project, in which case you may set a rule to capture all emails containing terms relevant to that project and direct them into a specific project folder, or just give those messages a specific color so they stand out.
If you are working with a team, you may also want to direct the rule to only collect these emails if they come from a member of the Group you defined in Contacts. There are lots of parameters you can use to craft an accurate set of rules to help manage your email messages.
Another way to achieve a similar effect is to use Smart mailboxes (Mailbox>New Smartmailbox). When you access these you reach another way to apply rules.
If you wanted to gather all email containing a particular word or phrase, you might choose ‘Entire message/contains/Phrase,’ and if you wanted to confine this to only collect mail from within your team, you’d tap the plus button and choose ‘Sender is Member of Group’ and use the group you created earlier.
Where can I find BCC?
We all need to send emails without exposing people’s addresses to one another, but you need to enable BCC first. You do so in the View menu or press Command-Option-B to invoke the BCC field.
Looking for more? Try email applications such as AirMail, Spark, or even Outlook. If you want to stick with Mail, you might want to take a look at MailTags or MailButler. These paid-for plug-ins add useful tools such as the ability to schedule emails to Mail. And here’s how to always insert an attachment at the end of a Mail message.