E-Mail Management Tip: Unread Messages Smart Mailbox

I get a lot of mail. When things are humming, on the order of two hundred to three hundred a day. It’s a little slower now because a lot of people are on vacation, but not much. How to deal with all of it? It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of time, especially if I miss a day.\
Since I started using Apple Mail (Mail.app for those in the know), I’ve fallen in love with Smart Mailboxes. On top of the 30-40 filters I have to shunt messages into appropriate folders based on listserv or project, I have a couple smart mailboxes, the most important being Unread Messages. I created a new Smart Mailbox with a couple parameters: Message is Unread, and not in my outbox (or various other AOL IMAP folders I don’t care about like “Spam”).\
Having a single place for all my unread mail that collapses to empty when I’m done, and is sorted by thread, has saved me all kinds of time. I can quickly scan threads, making sure I only respond to the last message (or sometimes only read the last thread because it should have the whole conversation in it) and can take care of things right then, or flag them for later (that’s another smart box).\
It makes mail more like reading feeds, which makes me happy, and might make you happy too.

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. jim says:

    If only there were a decent, similar app for the PC that worked with AOL mail…

  2. Some of us just don’t get that many emails. I don’t think I get 200 in a year, let alone in a day. I don’t even really need to sort it. At least that part of work is simple.

  3. Neil says:

    Here’s a couple of my smart folders that I use at work to help corral emails:
    The “Weekly” catch-all:
    Receive day is this week | Include Sent Messages
    – I have threading turned on for this mailbox to get what is basically the Gmail full email thread feature in Mail
    The Flagged for Action:
    Captures any email I have flagged as a “actionable” email (using MailTags and Mail’s built-in flag feature) – this is a gathering area for anything that is related to projects I’m currently working on.
    The archive mailbox
    I use this to grab anything that’s older than 90 days. Every once in a while I go into here and archive everything to a separate mailbox to get it out of the way (but still searchable).

  4. john Ching says:

    try Windows Live Mail http://get.live.com/betas/home
    i think it has a smiliar feature to smart mailboxes, it supports imap, pop, and deltasync (Live hotmail)

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