On walkabout in life and technology

Mischief Managed: Clean Inbox

Mischief Managed is a series of posts on tasks and technologies I use to maintain my computing environment. It’s part of what I do between projects. Try it out.

My Inbox has gotten out of control, several thousand emails reside in the combined inbox in Mail.app and I have not filed or archived any for weeks.

The last time I cleaned it up, it took me hours because I had to drag and drop each email into the right folder, and half the time I had to scroll to find the right folder. There has to be a better way.

My ideal situation would be a keystroke to move the selected email(s) into a predefined folder. I tried Applescript and Keyboard Maestro for a few, but I found it slow to respond. Then I purchased Mail Act-On, set up some rules, and started hitting keystrokes. My inbox was clean in no time.

One big change I made was to consolidate a lot of the older mail folders into single ones, for example, all project folders were consolidated into client folders instead. That reduced the number of Mail Act-On rules needed and keystrokes for me to remember. I use search for email most of the time these days, so email folders are becoming less and less of a necessity.

Since MailTags was a cheap add-on, I purchased that as well. I use OpenMeta tags in nvAlt, now I have them in Mail. I changed the Mail Act-On rules to tag emails by project before putting them in folders. Not sure how I’m going to use this yet, but it’s nice to know that my tagging has started.

The other major benefit of this clean-up and setting keystrokes is that I now have an easy, frictionless way to maintain my inbox.