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How To : Smart Mailboxes

How To : Smart Mailboxes

If you are involved with any sort of Web 2.0 and social networking activities you will be no doubt swamped by emails. You have your blog comment approvals, Twitter follower notifications, Twitter Direct Messages, Facebook Friends requests, and Facebook event invitations to name but a few.


It is amazing just how much email social network sites can actually generate and how quickly your mailbox fills up when you add this to your other email. Smart Mailboxes in offer a very quick and simple solution to keeping your email under control.

Smart Mailboxes work the same way as your traditional mailbox, a number will be displayed on the icon indicating how much unread email is in the folder etc. The only real difference is they appear purple in the sidebar and don’t really actually contain mail, they are like a filter for your main mailbox.

I use a number of Smart Mailboxes. I find a full inbox and a mix of read and unread email a little confusing and sometimes depressing. The first smart mailbox I set up was “Unread” but I also have smart mailboxes for Twitter, Blog Comments etc.

You can create a smart mailbox rule based on just about anything. Better still if you have MobileMe the smart mailboxes are backed up to the cloud.

Step 1

123Click on the + symbol on the bottom left of the main window.

This will give the option of creating a new mailbox, Smart mailbox or a new RSS Feed. (RSS may only appear in the Leopard version of Mail). Click on ‘Smart Mailbox’

Step 2 : Name your Smart Mailbox

Enter the name of your mailbox in the highlighted box, this could be Facebook, Twitter etc depending on the type of rule you are creating.


Step 3 : Setting the Criteria

Smart Mailboxes are well, Smart. You add different criteria and instruct to match mail when ALL or ANY of the criterial met.

In this example I am going to set a Smart Mailbox for Facebook email and I want only email I have not read to be in the mailbox.

The Default option for the first rule is “From” “Contains”  The screenshot below has been edited to show all the options available for both menus.

Create your first rule by adding “Facebook” without the ” into the first rule line (see below). Click the + on the right of the first rule  to add additional rules.

mail5My next rule is to select unread. Click “Any Recipient” and then the “unread” option.

You can add more rules and tell mail to include the Trash and Sent item mailboxes. As you become more familiar with using Smart Mailboxes you may find you only use the Smart Mailboxes to access and read your mail over the traditional mailbox route.

One you have mastered Smart Mailboxes you may venture into the realms of Mail Rules (from the preferences menu). These work in a very similar way to Smart Mailboxes but allow you to auto delete email, move it and even forward to someone else.

Smart Mailboxes are the first step to inbox bliss.

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