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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Vox Populi: How are you using Mail Tags?

I open the floor to all of you on a question of particular personal interest to me: How are you using Mail Tags?

While my uses of it to date have been helpful, I keep getting the feeling I'm not getting all that I can out of it -- especially since the ability to associate Projects, Priorities, etc. to a message could make for some really enticing Smart Folders.

I wonder if my question is ultimately more taxonomic in nature -- ultimately more about Spotlight in general or Tags in very very general: When tagging items on your Mac, what kind of '-onomy' are you using? How strictly do you enforce your vocabulary? What are the best practices for someone who's new to this?

Confidential to Mr. Thomas Vander Wal: if you turn up here and school me a bit on this, I’ll totally buy you a Coke. If you write a guest post on it, I’ll buy you a beefsteak and two cocktails. Seriously. Steak.

mc's picture

I use MailTags mainly for...

I use MailTags mainly for the date scheduling of email. I do not use it to attach keywords or to attach things to projects. I have over 1 GB of old mail for ongoing projects, and there's no way I'm going back to re-tag all that. So I stick to my highly coherent mail filing system (identical to the Finder system and the system I use on my Newton...). See http://tools.unna.org/wikiwikinewt/index.php/MichaelWittmann for more information on using the Newton, the desktop and so on.

MailTags gets used alongside Mail Act-On, which gives easy keystrokes to keep my inbox at zero. A "MasterIn" smart folder (explained below) tells me what to work on today and also acts as my processing location. One stop shopping.

Act-On has the following rules relevant to MailTags:

ctrl-t - respond TODAY (move to "respond later") ctrl-1 - reply within 1 day (move to "respond later") ctrl-4 - reply within 4 days (move to "respond later") ctrl-s - respond someday (move to "someday" and ... forget)

(Note that these are all left hand keystrokes... right hand might be on the mouse.) (I am leaving out the Act-On items that don't deal with MailTags and instead focusing just on the MailTags pieces of my mail use.)

My smart mailbox is relatively simple, with the rules

Message is unread Message is in Mailbox Sent MailTags Due Date is before 1 days from today

The first two force me to process my inbox instantly. I have to decided on the email status as soon as it's in my "MasterIn." Also, I have to archive any sent mail I want to archive, as soon as it's sent. This is often useful because I move the message I'm replying to (including an Act-On "clear all MailTags and flags" keystroke) into my archive, and then use opt-cmd-T to move the reply into the same mailbox right after.

the last rule in my smart mailbox puts in anything that has a due date of today or is overdue.

That's it. I have about 20 to 50 messages I need to work on in a given day, and this system lets me deal with it quickly.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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