Mac Mail: Love it or Hate it

If you’re switching from a PC to MAC, you will have to decide if you are going to use Apple’s Mail program, also known as Mac Mail. Here’s what I love and hate about Apple Mail:

Love It!
Apple’s Mail program has vastly improved over the last few years and the latest version (Version 8.2 (2070.6), which I’m using) is the best yet. If you’ve come from a PC using Outlook it may take some getting used to, but in the long run it integrates the best with the rest of Apple’s programs like Calendar or Address Book.

Here are four things that I love about Mac Mail:
1. Forward selected text – this may sound stupid to you, but if you’ve ever wanted to reply to a specific point in an email or forward just a snippet of the email you’ve just received without including the preceding chain of emails or without other people’s email addresses, this one’s for you. Simply highlight the text you want to forward/reply and hit Forward. Mail automatically cuts and pastes the text in a new email.

2. Email search – with thousands of emails and four email accounts finding that one email from so and so can be a pain. Apple Mail’s search function works really well. Start typing the name of someone and it automatically brings up a list of People and Subjects. In this case, select the person you were thinking of and Mail automatically searches for emails from that person. You can change the From to To. Also you can click Inbox, Sent, or All within the search bar so you don’t have to change mailboxes then retype the search term. Thankfully there’s a keyboard shortcut to get to the search bar: Command+Option+F.

3. Flags – Whatever strategy you use to keep a track of important emails, you should try Flags in Apple Mail. Select the email to flag. On the Main Menu you’ll find an icon for flags, click the drop down and pick one of 7 colors. Once flagged your email will automatically show up in the Flagged Mailbox/folder under Mailboxes. Clearing a flag is just as easy. There’s a shortcut for this too: Shift+Command+L

4. Keyboard shortcuts – as you can tell I’m a HUGE believer in keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately Apple Mail is loaded with them. Here are just a few of the ones I use frequently:
Compose a new email message: Shift+Command+N
Reply to sender: Command+R
Reply to all: Shift+Command+R
Send email message: Shift+Command+D
Save as a draft: Command+S
Attach file to message: Shift+Command+A
Go to inbox: Command+1
Redirect an email (i.e., resend a sent email): Shift+Command+E

Hate it!
Having been a PC Outlook user for many years there are some disadvantages that have to be put up with. Here are few of my pet peeves.

1. Calendar invites – Not all calendar invites are created equally and regularly I find the invite coming as an attachment (.ics format) or the “Yes” button doesn’t relay the information to my calendar. For the .ics attachments, you can drag the attachment from your email and drop it onto the Calendar icon on the dock. It will automatically show up in your calendar.

2. Viewing unread emails – If you monitor your Inbox by unread emails, Apple Mail doesn’t keep them in the proper order throughout the day. Regularly through out the day I have to manually update this by clicking View>>Sort By>>Date. Then View>>Sort By>>Unread. That reshuffles the deck and the Inbox is reset by unread emails. When this happens I usually end up somewhere in the middle of the inbox, if that happens to you click: Function+Left Arrow to get you to the top of the Unread list.

3. Lists/Bullets – Working within Apple Mail for lists, particularly if your are pasting a list from another document can be a real pain. More often then note the numbering gets messed up and it’s impossible to correct. The work around I found is to copy the text without formatting (Command+Shift+Option+V) then add to your list. It’s a pain.

I’ll spare you the rest of the hate. On the whole I find Apple Mail to be simple and easy to use. It doesn’t offer a lot of the features of Outlook, but it gets the job done. What about Outlook for Mac you ask? Even worse in my opinion, but that’s for another post.

Don’t forget, you can bring your old emails with you to Apple Mail from your PC. Convert your old emails from Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird or Windows Live Mail to work in Mac Mail/Apple Mail with ConvertMyEmail.