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Vox Pop: Sell me on manual email filing

tow.com » MsgFiler

Lots of the kids are excited about the arrival of MsgFiler, which is a neat litte app for helping you file away your messages in Mail.app:

MsgFiler is a plug-in for Apple Mail which quickly files emails into existing mailbox folders. MsgFiler’s fast searching means you just have to type a few characters to find the right mailbox. Move selected messages with a click or open a mailbox without having to navigate the mailbox folder pane. MsgFiler is optimized for keyboard-only usage, perfect for Apple Mail power users.


But I'll just play devil's advocate on this one: if you find yourself inordinately excited about the arrival of this (admittedly clever) application, there's an excellent chance that your email archiving system is unnecessarily complex and, in fact, is in need of a major streamlining. Discuss.

Me? Here's my own folder hierarchy (and the Mail Act-on key I use to send selected messages there.):

  • To Respond (CTRL-R)
  • Archived (CTRL-A)
    • Receipts and things I Bought (CTRL-B)
    • Passwords and account info (CTRL-P)

That's it. Personally, I abandoned the byzantine filing system quite a while ago, and so far -- given a mindful combination of Smart Folders and Spotlight -- I've yet to find a compelling case for manually filing beyond a depth of more than one folder.

So, my larger question for you guys with more than, say, five or so archive sub-folders:

How often are you using your archiving hierarchy to retrieve old mail? In other words, give me your success stories and best practices by which the time spent on meticulous manual filing has paid outsize rewards in finding stuff later. Or, perhaps better put: what are the limitations of Smart Folders, and what would need to change about them to get you out of the manual filing routine?

Because, I gotta tell you, it kinda seems like a lot of busy work given what seems like modest functional pay-off. But you school me...

BZ's picture

Why file them at all? Why...

Why file them at all?

Why not just leave them all in the Inbox and use a Smart Folder to get Inbox to Zero.

Here it the thing, I have 8 different email accounts:

Account1 Account2 Account3 Etc..

Each with their own Inbox.

Instead of actually going into those inboxes, I just created a smartfolder called "Toay and Yesterday" which is everything from today or yesterday that is not in one of the filtered folders (mailing lists) goes in there.

I process from top to bottom, flagging things I need to respond to, reading and deleting.

I have another Smart Folder called "Flagged" that is just that. I click on it and those are the things I need to do (respond, process or make a next action in kGTD).

You never get Inbox to Zero, really, but it keeps you out of your inbox.

This weekend I am going to try and modify the smart folder to just show unread things that haven't been read in the last X hours. That way, as I go through the Inbox, read, flag or respond they will automatically go away creating a fake inbox to zero.





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