Is there a way to create folders or otherwise organize my email inbox?
January 31, 2009 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Is there an app/script/somethin'-sweet I can install on my Mac(s) that will allow me to organize my email INBOX?

I'd like to be able to group, folder, or rearrange the items in my email inbox so that I can deal with them more efficiently. Viewing by subject/date/time/etc. will not solve my organization problem. I do NOT want to take them out of my inbox in any way (my rule is that I can't do that until I've dealt with it). I'm currently using Apple Mail, and would like to continue to do so. Thanks!
posted by iamkimiam to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Look into's Smart Folders. They are exactly what you are asking for - set rules up and it shows you a view of that search in a folder without moving them out of whatever folder they exist in. Rules can include things like what folder they are currently in (or not in), like INBOX.
posted by tomierna at 8:33 AM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, maybe I'll try that tomierna; I didn't realize smart folders don't actually move emails out of their location.

I already have an extremely complex folder system outside my inbox (about 100+ folders across ~7 levels of depth...I've been using .mac for 10+ years now). I can find things very well when I need to, but won't remember to deal with things if they're not immediately visible to me — I also have a no-more-than-10-email personal rule for my inbox, but sometimes I break it and it can't be helped. Folders for those cases would be great. I'm not looking for a massive foldering solution for my inbox, just something to loosely organize it so that items don't get in my way while I'm working on them. Sounds like the Smart Folders is my solution, since it's temporary, at the top of the folder list, doesn't relocate my emails, etc. Right?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:46 AM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Damn. So close, but no go. There is no way to limit the smart mailbox to JUST the inbox without also making any other criteria mandatory as well...which means that all the emails I want from the inbox folder must have some criteria that they all share, but that the other emails in my inbox DON'T share. This is pretty impossible, unless I create long lists of rules. There's also no way to manually add items to a smart mailbox.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:05 AM on January 31, 2009

Best answer: In the trivial case, you could use flags, which are built in. If you want to get something fancier, look into Mailtags.

This would allow you to flag/tag stuff, leave it in your inbox, and also (if you desire) create a Smart Mailbox that matches "message is in mailbox: inbox AND message is flagged" (or something like that).
posted by adamrice at 9:46 AM on January 31, 2009

I'm not sure why this is a problem without knowing specifically what you are trying to do. Can you give an example of what exactly you're trying to accomplish?
posted by myeviltwin at 9:47 AM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, no prob. So, right now I have ~35 emails in my inbox (I try to keep them under 10). About 8 of these emails are from various people in my school dept. announcing upcoming events or meetings, as well as my reponses to them and additional info about the events (some of the emails don't contain the previous content, so I have to keep both emails if I want the full story). I'm keeping all these event announcements in my email inbox as reminders to post them all to a news group and mailing list that I manage. If I move them out of the inbox and into a folder, they will be forgotten because my folders go DEEP, and I have a personal rule that I don't file things that I haven't taken care of yet. I've got another 10 emails from people discussing a Spanish conversation group being formed...each email has different action items for me, but they all pertain to the same general topic, learning Spanish. And then there are the work related emails. And the personal correspondences.

Why can't I just put my emails in the order that I want? Like an iTunes playlist. That's all I'm really asking. Or a folder. Or a divider. Whatever. Just something so that I don't have to have them all interleaved randomly.

I guess I could throw them in respective folders, and just send myself an email that says "Kim, go look at this folder and do task X." But I really would just rather be able to move emails around in my inbox in the order that I want to view them, a la iTunes.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:46 AM on January 31, 2009

Put all of the people in each group in their own group in your Address Book. Then you can use the mail is in INBOX and sender is in Group rules as mandatory.

That said, I do sometimes wish that iTunes and Mail both gave and/or for each rule, or gave rule grouping or something.
posted by tomierna at 12:06 PM on January 31, 2009

Best answer: As adamrice said, you need Mailtags. It'll let you tag messages with, say "announcements" or "spanish" or "personal" and then set up smart mailboxes based on that. It's $25 which seems a little steep, but he does have a student discount.
posted by myeviltwin at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. Mailtags + smart mailboxes is the perfect solution!
posted by iamkimiam at 11:31 AM on February 1, 2009

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