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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 itself, others from third-party vendors--that can help you do just that.

Finally, I use Keyboard Maestro's Insert Text by Pasting command to insert my greeting, complete with the sender's name inserted at the appropriate point: Hi %Variable%sender_name%. That's followed by Thanks for your message, %|%. I also position the text insertion-point after the greeting, so I can continue typing my reply. — Matt Gemmell

Email encrypted PDFs

Tool: Automator Apple's built-in support for the PDF format in OS X allows you to not only quickly view PDFs without the use of third-party software, but also to create new ones easily. One of the quickest ways to do this is to use the PDF menu in a standard print dialogue to create a PDF. And one of the handiest services in this menu is the Mail PDF option, which instead of making you first save a PDF somewhere on your hard drive then attaching it to an email message, wraps all that into one action.

But though this option is convenient, it isn't perfect, especially for PDFs that contain sensitive data. So I created a PDF service of my own in Automator that creates and then password-protects a PDF before attaching it to an email.

To start, open Automator, and select Print Plugin from the list of possible workflows. Drag over the Encrypt PDF Documents action. You don't need to enter a password in the Password and Verify fields, but do check the Show This Action When The Workflow Runs under Options. (Alternatively, you can use a dummy password for now.) Next, drag over the New Mail Message action as the next step in the workflow.

That done, save the workflow with a name (Mail Encrypted PDF?); that will now appear as an option in the PDF menu at the bottom of the standard Print dialogue window. When you select it, you will be prompted to enter a password for the PDF; if you entered a dummy password above, that'll be entered by default. When the service finished, the PDF will embed as a secure document in a new email message. — Topher Kessler

Flag emails from specific senders

Tool: Mail I get lots of emails from my editors and colleagues at Macworld, and I've found it helpful to set them apart from other emails. That way, I can quickly and easily spot any urgent messages, plus it makes it easier to use my Mail inbox as my to-do list. So I set up a rule in Mail to mark these emails and notify me when they arrive.

In Mail, choose File > Preferences, then select Rules. Click New Rule and set the following conditions: If any of the following conditions are met; From contains, and And I set the following actions to be performed on messages that match those conditions: Move Message to Mailbox Inbox; Set Color of Text to Other... (I set it to purple); Stop Evaluating Rules (so other rules don't move or alter the messages); Send Notification. — Kirk McElhearn


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