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Automate your Mac: 10 ways to make managing email easier

Christopher Breen, Katie Floyd, Dan Frakes, Matt Gemmell, Topher Kessler, Kirk McElhearn, David Sparks | Sept. 3, 2014
If there's one daily chore that cries out for automation, it's managing your email inbox. Fortunately, there are all kinds of tools--some built into Mail.app itself, others from third-party vendors--that can help you do just that.

If there's one daily chore that cries out for automation, it's managing your email inbox. Fortunately, there are all kinds of tools — some built into Mail.app itself, others from third-party vendors — that can help you do just that.

Hide the Reply-All-ers

Tool: Mail Like every company, we here at Macworld deal with groups inside our organization who believe clicking Reply All is a proper response to any "Welcome Bob!" or "Great Work, Team!" message that crosses the wire. Thankfully, these people tend to cluster in their own domain — something along the lines of @wehavenoclue.com. So I created a Mail rule to handle their effusions: In the Inbox Rules section of the Rules tab in Mail's preferences, I added a rule that looks for messages in which the From field contains that domain, then performs the action Move Message and specifying a separate mailbox as the destination. I can then peruse that box when my patience allows. — Christopher Breen

Keep Track of Shipments

Tools: Delivery Status, Mail I routinely shop online and easily lose track of when packages are scheduled to be delivered. So I use Delivery Status from Junecloud — which includes an iOS App, Dashboard widget and cloud service — to keep an eye on incoming packages. Among other features, the service allows me to forward order and shipment-confirmation emails to JuneCloud, which parses their text and adds their tracking information to the app. So I created some simple Mail rules to handle this forwarding automatically.

First, there's a rule that looks for any subject that contains the words order has shipped and then forwards such messages to track@junecloud.com. This catches most of the relevant messages. You can create other, more customized rules for particular vendors. For example, I have one that looks for (and then forwards) messages in which From contains shipping_notification@orders.apple.com. — Katie Floyd

File Mail messages to Evernote

Tools: Evernote, TextExpander I use Evernote to store and manage all kinds of documents. One thing that makes it more efficient: Evernote gives every user a unique email address, which you can use to send documents to your Evernote account. Email messages sent to that address are usually saved in your default notebook. But with a little planning, you can organize and tag notes more precisely.

The subject of the email becomes the title of the note in Evernote. To specify a notebook where that note will be filed, adding the @ symbol followed by the name of an existing notebook to the subject line. Similarly, you can tag the note by appending #, followed by an existing tag, to the subject.

If you find yourself sending messages to the same set of notebooks and tags routinely, you can automate this tagging process with a TextExpander snippet. For example: I'm going back to school this year and want to keep track of the associated expenses. In Evernote I keep a notebook called Tax Receipts for every year, as well as an Education tag; I also like to include date information with each note. So I created the following snippet in TextExpander to use as the subject of my message:

 

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