Tweaking Mail.app for Optimal Usage

Turning Mail.app Into the Best Mac Email App | Mac.AppStorm

A very excellent article over at Mac.AppStorm that mirrors several of the practices I’ve incorporated myself, plus a few that had me updating my email workflow again this week.

I was a big fan of Sparrow (R.I.P. thanks to a Google buyout. Don’t get me wrong, it still works for now but I’m NOT a fan of trusting system critical tasks to abandoned software). I had ‘gone all in’ across my Mac, iPhone, and iPad, as most of my email accounts are either Google App hosted, or vanilla Gmail accounts and it was by far the superior companion mail client.

Flags

However, we’ve had 6 months to mourn, and I’ve sinced moved back to Mail.app full-time. Thankfully around the same time Apple spoon-fed us Message Flag support on iOS, otherwise the only way to indicate to yourself you needed to revisit an email later was to mark it Unread again (confusing); or move it to a folder (cumbersome and incompatible with Apple’s own Flagging or GMail’s Starring which directly correlate). But what about all the other Flag levels you can do in the Mac Mail client?

Dear Apple: If you want people to take iOS seriously as a production environment, there needs to be significantly greater parity between major Mac/iOS applications. Especially if we’re being forced to use them. Namely, Mobile Mail and Mobile Safari.

I try not to go too crazy with Flags, as ultimately any Mail client is not designed to be a task management system. There’s the step after this where it should end up in OmniFocus, Things, Taskpaper, or [insert your favorite task manager here].

I like to differentiate at least:

  • Reply/Action Needed [Hyper+R] – Red Flag. Flagged email in iOS ends up here which is okay. If it’s supposed to be otherwise it will get reviewed here first anyway.
  • Follow-up [Hyper+F] – Orange Flag. Something needs to be done with this email but it’s not as time critical.
  • Save for Reference [Hyper+S] – Green Flag. Also not time critical, but information that needs to be archived elsewhere for possible future reference.

The Hyper key I refer to here is based off a wonderful repurposing of the (at least for me) ghost town of a key called the Caps Lock. A tip I picked up from Brett Terpstra:
A Useful Caps Lock Key.

To Archive, or Delete

Another welcome feature in iOS6 that easily goes unnoticed: if you click & hold on the Archive button, you also have the option of Deleting. This is still a 2-step process though. I miss the sliding panel in Sparrow with one click to most email actions! Hmm…why did I leave again? That’s right abandoned software, and no Exchange support.

Jason Shanks

Jason is a Musician, UX Designer/Web Developer, Apple Consultant, Mac Genius in a past life and all around Apple Freak for 25+ years now. His first reaction to himself when conceiving of starting FWAP was, "ON,NAAB!" Which was later revealed to mean Oh No, Not Another Apple Blog!

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