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Apple Mail Rules OK

You can set a "rule" in Apple mail to carry out a specific task. Probably the simplest example is if you get a lot of messages from a friend called (say) "Jon Leger" and you want to file them in a folder called "Jon". You create the folder. Then you select a message from Jon. Then you click on "Mail" (in the menu bar) then "Preferences..." then "Rules" then [Add Rule]. This brings up a window:

In this window you can specify that messages where the "From" address contains (for example) "" should be filed in the folder "Jon". When you close the window you'll see a message asking you if you want to move all such messages now. Click OK if you do. From now on, whenever a message from Jon's email address arrives, it will be filed immediately in the "Jon" folder.

In his eBook, "Take Control of Apple Mail", Joe Kissel points out:-

Mail always uses the entire list of rules. Although you can reorder rules or globally disable individual rules by deselecting their checkboxes in the Rules preference pane, you must apply all active rules at once - whether automatically for all incoming messages, or manually using the Message > Apply Rules command.

Mail offers no way to invoke just one particular rule manually. I've often wished I could select certain messages and apply a special rule that is not on the main list - for example, to file a message according to some criteria - but only after I'd read it in my Inbox.

So I was delighted to find a free (donations requested), new utility that does exactly this. It's called Mail Act-On (see Other Mail Add-Ons in Appendix A: Software Sources), and it's from the same folks who created Mail Tags (see Search Metadata with MailTags). I've become so accustomed to it that I can't imagine using Mail without it. After installing Mail Act-On, you create a special list of rules (using Mail's Rules preference pane). These rules do not apply to incoming messages or when you use the Apply Rules command. Rather, you invoke each Mail Act-On rule with a special keyboard shortcut. The setup is a bit odd, as are the keyboard shortcuts (you press the ` key followed by - not at the same time as - a second key). But once you get the hang of it, this arrangement works fantastically well. For true rule aficionados, I can't recommend Mail Act-On highly enough!

So if you install "Mail Act-On" you can create a rule as above but you can make it so that it works only when you press a key combination. This might be useful if you don't want Mail to file away incoming messages from Jonathan right away. You can let them come to the In Box, read them, then press the keys to file them away.

For more hints and tips please buy the eBook, "Take Control of Apple Mail", by Joe Kissel. It's very cheap and worth every cent!

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Copyright ©2007 SatCure
Updated August 15, 2007
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