OS X: 7 handy Mail tips for Mac users

While it hasn't been the easiest few months for Apple's Mail app, it does offer several handy features designed to make life a little easier, here is a selection:

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Preview emailed Web links

If you've been sent a link to a Website you're not certain you trust don't need to launch it in your browser -- use Quick Look.

  • Hover your cursor above the URL in your message.
  • Click the small down-pointed arrow that appears
  • The page will load in Preview
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Go Classic

If you get a lot of email you may want to revert to Mail's Classic look. To achieve this open Mail Preferences and check out the Viewing tab. At the top of that tab you can choose "Use classic layout" which puts your messages in an easier to read list, with Mail message content shown beneath the messages view.

Fast attachment

You can send an attachment in a trice. If you want to send an attachment with an email all you need to do is drag the file you want to send over the Mail icon and let it go. This opens a new message containing the attachment.

Find emails fast

You can find emails using Mail's own search tools, but it's quicker using Spotlight. When searching for mail type "kind:mail" in the Spotlight search field to limit results to email messages. You can also use the following commands to speed up your search:

  • From:
  • To:
  • Subject:
  • Date: (kind:mail date:"this week" finds all mail received this week, for example)
  • Or:
  • And:
  • Not:
  • You can also group items using parentheses.

Important people

I use the VIP function a lot when working on projects -- I assign VIP status to my closest friends, but when working on a project I will also assign that status to people I'm working with on that project. When I receive messages from these people (and my friends) I can easily keep an eye on recent messages in the VIP mailbox on my Mac and iPhone.

  • To add someone to your VIP list just click the star icon that appears next to their email address when you hover your mouth (typo: read cursor. Also, "mouth?") above the addres.
  • To remove them from VIP, just click the star again.

Setting up an autoresponse

Open Mail Preferences>Rules>Add Rule

  • Name the rule "Autoresponse"
  • Set the conditions to something suitable -- perhaps you only want to respond to email from specific email addresses, or which contain specific subjects or only to those using a specific email address you use.
  • Select Reply to Message under Perform the following actions
  • Click Reply Message text and enter the text you want to use
  • Click OK, and choose Don't Apply on when asked "Do you want to apply your rules to message in selected mailboxes".
  • Close the Rules.

Now your Mail app automatically responds to messages.

Changing default email app

If you've migrated to an alternative email app such as AirMail or Sparrow you may not have chosen to set them as your default email client on installation. OS X Daily says this is what to do to set up a new default email client:

  • First launch Mail.
  • Open Mail Preferences>General.
  • Look for the Default email reader item and click on the drop down menu.
  • Now choose the mail app you want to use -- if it isn't listed, then choose Select to pick one manually.

NB: if you want to change the default Web browser on your Mac, you need to launch Safari Preferences>General and select a new Default Web browser from the drop down list.

You may also find these earlier posts useful, or this post which helps improve use of Mail on iOS devices:

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