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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.

%Y.%m.%d %filltext:name=Note Subject% @Tax Receipts %Y #Education

The first part of that snippet inserts a date stamp. The second part of the snippet creates a single-line pop-up field that prompts me to enter the subject of the note, such as the type of receipt. The final part of the snippet denotes the specific notebook using a custom Year snippet (so I don't have to update the snippet every year) and a tag. — Katie Floyd

Forward emails with special formatting

Tools: Keyboard Maestro, Mail Dozens of times a day, I forward press releases from hardware and software vendors to Macworld writers; each message goes to a particular person based on the topic area. When I do so, I replace Fwd: in the subject with a standard prefix (such as iOS accessories:) to make it easier for that person to filter these messages. It's a simple-but-tedious task, so I've created a bunch of Keyboard Maestro macros that perform all the necessary steps with a single keystroke.

For example, to forward an iOS-accessory press release to our writer Joel Mathis, I created the following macro: For the trigger, I chose Hot Key Trigger from the New Trigger pop-up menu and specified Control-Option-Command-I. I then created a series of new actions: Type Shift-Command-F (Mail's Forward Message shortcut); pause for .5 seconds (to wait for the forwarded-message window to open); paste Joel's email address as the text; pause for .5 seconds (to wait for Mail's autocomplete addressing feature to catch up); tab three times (to get to the Subject field); type the left arrow Keystroke (to get to the beginning of the Subject field); forward-delete three times (to remove FWD from the beginning of the subject); paste iOS accessories (to add that text to the beginning of the message); pause for .5 seconds (to make sure Mail doesn't get left behind); and, finally, type Shift-Command-D (Mail's Send Message shortcut). — Dan Frakes

Replying to email with a standard greeting

Tool: Keyboard Maestro I reply to many emails every day, and I like to thank the sender by name for getting in touch with me. So I created a simple Keyboard Maestro macro that lets me type hisender (Hi, Sender) to insert a suitable greeting.

First, I created a Keyboard Maestro macro that's triggered by the text string hisender. (You could of course use a hotkey or any other trigger that Keyboard Maestro supports.) In the Will Execute The Following Actions section, I create a variable (sender_addr) and use the Insert Token drop-down to assign that variable to the sender of the frontmost message in Mail. I then add an action to search that variable for a regular expression: ^"?([^\s]+)(.*)$. That pattern captures the first chunk of text in the sender's name and email address. The found text string is then saved into a new variable, sender_name.

 

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