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Five essential Mail rules

Kirk McElhearn, | April 26, 2011
Overwhelmed by e-mail? Five essential Apple Mail rules can help you take control of your inbox. Learn how Mail can automatically forward, file, and highlight special messages and even trigger an alarm when certain correspondents write.


2. Highlight messages that contain your name

I participate in a number of Internet mailing lists and get lots of e-mail from them as a result. I might not be able to read every message right away, but that doesn’t mean I want to miss out on the conversation. To help myself keep up, I use a rule to indicate when my name is mentioned in a message—for example, when someone replies to something I said or asks me a question. Granted, with an uncommon name like Kirk, I get a few false positives; if your name is Jennifer or Jason, you might want to enter your full name. Even then, not all messages will get flagged as your full name may not always be mentioned.

Highlight messages
This rule highlights with a green background messages that include my name.

This is a simple rule; it merely looks for “Message Content” that “Contains” “Kirk,” and then changes the background color to a light green. I don’t do any other filtering, and allow other rules, as you’ll see later, direct some of these messages to specific folders. But whenever a message has my name in it—or that of any other Kirk—the message will appear highlighted with a green background, prompting me to pay attention.


3. Move messages to specific folders

If you belong to a bunch of mailing lists like I do, you’ll appreciate that it’s helpful to keep these messages separate from your regular mail. I have some folders in my Mail sidebar to sort my lists so the frequent messages don’t crowd my Inbox, and so I can view them at my leisure. A simple rule makes Mail sort messages in this manner automatically.

Move messages to folders
This rule looks for any of a number of recipient addresses (for example, ones that are associated with mailing lists) and files messages away in a folder.

First, create a folder in the Mail sidebar. (Choose Mailbox -> New Mailbox, name the folder, and decide where you want it to be stored.)

Next, create a rule where “Any Recipient” “Contains” the recipient you want to use. For individuals, that could be “Is” instead of “Contains,” but for mailing lists, “Contains” works better, because some people use cc or bcc addresses in such messages. If you want more than one address, just click the plus-sign (+) icon to add another condition.

In the actions section, choose “Move Message” to mailbox, and choose the folder you created. In most cases, you’ll want to add “Stop Evaluating Rules” to make sure that other rules don’t move the message again after this rule has acted.


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