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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Jess Stratton here, an welcome to Monday productivity pointers. If you use a Mac, then you could be using the native, built-in Mac mail client, or maybe you found another app that you like better. But, if you are using the Mac mail app, a highly underutilized feature of this is the ability to create a smart mailbox. A smart mailbox is a brand new mailbox that will automatically filter and show you a set of messages, no matter what account they came on. Now this is different than Rules, a Rule filters and process the messages as it come in.
And it could filter it out of the inbox entirely. But a smart mailbox, is a mailbox that only contains criteria or a compound of many criteria that will show you all the messages that matches that criteria. Now the messages stay where they are, in whatever folder you put them in. But you can also see them nice and tidy in this one smart mailbox view. So, today, I'm going to show you how easy it is to set up a smart mailbox, and put some rules on it. So that you can start seeing all your mail filtered into one view.
So that you can quickly find any mail that you need to. I've got my Mac mail client open. And I'm in my inbox right now. And I'm going to create a couple of smart mailboxes. The first one I'm going to create is a special view, that only shows me mail that came in today. Now, this is useful if you have a long cluttered mailbox, and you only want to see anything that came in today, that you might not have seen. This is different than just looking at all unread messages, because you could easily have unread messages spanning multiple days.
And you may have glanced at them and decided not to open them, so they still show as unread even though you've technically seen them. This is a special view that's only going to show me mail that I've seen today. So to create a smart mailbox, from up at the top of the screen, select Mailbox from the menu and choose New Smart Mailbox. Here's where we get to pick our criteria, but before that, we need to give it a name. And of course, you'd want the name to be similar to the criteria, so I'll call it today.
So here's where we can start adding our conditions or our filtered view. Now, it can contain any or all of the following conditions. And as you can see, you can click the plus sign to have more than one condition. In this case, I'm only going to have one condition. If I click on the pull down menu next to Any Recipient, here's all the choices I have. Now, this is a really powerful list. There's a lot of choices in here. For example message was replied to, if the message hasn't been replied to, if it's in a certain mailbox, if it even contatins attachments, and you can even fine tune if it contains attachments of any particular type.
So technically, you could create a smart mailbox of all your Microsoft Word documents, or all your Excel files, or PDFs. In this case, I'm going to choose Date Received. And after that I get another conditional pull-down menu, in which I can choose the Date Received filter. So even now I still get a really extensive list of dates to choose from. For example, I could have a very specific date. I can even have a smart mailbox that chooses whether its in a particular date range.
Then this case, I'm just going to simply choose Is Today. I can click the plus sign if I wanted to add more conditions, and here's where I can start adding conditions to it. For example, I can filter any messages in which the date came in today, and it had a certain attachment. If at any time I don't want any of these conditions, you can just click the minus sign next to it, and it goes away. Finally, choose whether you also want to include messages that are in your sent folder or in your trash folder, which is a really neat feature because by default it's only going to show you messages that aren't in these.
Because you may not care about things that are in your trash, and you may not care about files that you've sent out yourself. But it does give you the option to place a check box there, in case you decide you want these. So when I'm happy with my smart mailbox, I can click OK. It instantly gets created, and I can see that there are six messages in here that I've gotten today. I can go through and read them and tomorrow when I look at this mailbox I'll get a whole new list of emails. And remember, these don't go away, they're still in my inbox or wherever other folders I've filed them into.
This is another neat feature. If I've gotten mail and I've still filed them into individual folders, I can always come into this smart mailbox and find them. Because if they came in today, then I'll still see them in this view. So we can also create another smart mailbox. You can definitely create more than one. So let's come back up here to mailbox and we'll do one more. I'll select new smart mailbox, and I'm going to call this one recently viewed. This is another really good choice to have for a smart mailbox.
And now, I'm going to choose Date Last Viewed, and then in my conditional statement, is in the last. And now I can type a figure. So I can choose three days, I can choose seven days, I can choose the last one month. And this will be all mail that I viewed in that time period. So this is great if you're working on a particular folder and you just want to know where something is. You can come into your recently viewed smart mailbox.
And see all the mail that you've looked at recently. In this case, it would be a good time to include messages from your trash and your sent folder also, because if it had something to do with the project, you could find it quickly if you looked at something in your trash. I click OK. And here's all my smart mailboxes clustered together. So this is all that I've glanced at recently as you can see they come in all particular dates I looked at one from May 30th so more then a few months ago but yet it still shows up in this because I had looked at it for whatever reason.
So, that's how to use smart mailboxes. As you can see, you have a plethora of options to choose from, and you can make this really powerful. So, if there was ever a time when you're in your Mac mail client and you thought, I just wish I had this folder, chances are, you can get your wish.
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