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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.

vanderwal's picture

Merlin, I will gladly accept...

Merlin, I will gladly accept your Coke (if it is diet) and the scent of steak has my fingers twitching.

Oddly, yesterday morning I moved one of my e-mail accounts back to Apple Mail and out of Entourage. I have used Entourage for one reason, its Projects feature with its ability to tie mail, contacts, schedule, notes, and clippings (I have never sorted out what clippings are, but since I rarely use the rest of MS Office for Mac there may be some benefit there).

My move to Mail was driven by two things: 1) Mail has more spring in its step than my e-mail laden Entourage; 2) I really wanted to try the newer functionality in Mail while getting the one mail account out of the Pavlovian Entourage mail ping, as this mail account is mostly picking up travel affinity programs I belong to, sale mail at stores I trust with my e-mail, and daily e-mail dumps of news and other non-work pertinent information.

A year ago I pulled my sparse use of Mail when I had tried Mail Tags and was not wowed enough to make me forget I like Entourage. Yesterday morning I had also downloaded Mail Tags 2 beta, which I set up and started kicking the tires. I wanted to see if it could replicate my manner of thinking in Entourage, but also extend that with tags. So far it seems it can work well as a replacement.

There are two things that are really important to me with mail and metadata (both very similar to Señor Pantalones): 1) Being able to tie mail to a project (client work, conference, or threads of interaction - e.g. mentoring, interviews, etc.) so that all the angles and communications are captured; 2) Being able to tie missing terms to a mail as well as placing hooks for facetted aggregation (e.g. travel, interview, contract, pitch, gift idea, etc.). These two are used as mostly controlled vocabularies as it makes aggregation or general retrieval much easier.

Where Mail with Mail Tags has it over Entourage is free tagging, which I really like as I can just use what is at the top of my head to add context to an e-mail, which is often what I am thinking when I am trying to retrieve it (for me Gmail scales horribly in this area, but Andy Mitchell's GTDGmail is a much better interface than what Google came up with for tagging/labelling). The ability to free associate or add hooks for future tethers is really important for me. It allows me to connect ideas and mails that have hidden/masked correlations (synergy is the appropriate word but its use tends to get one banned from most discourse these days). I can add the tag SWeStI (for semantically well structured information) or cheap for good bargains.

I also use flags for following up, as my GTD is really frail and mostly approximates GTOMG (yes, "getting things, oh my god" - as in I blew that deadline or so that is what the title urgent meant in iCal to do as it missed the needed context from kGTD).

I am really interested in what Laura Lemay has in her follow-up.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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