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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...

dave's picture

well, i'm with trevor above...

well, i'm with trevor above - lots of project specific emails that need to be grouped in a folder because messages contain no indication of project name, and the sender might be associated with multiple projects such that search by sender fails...however, i'm now exploring dropping these windows folder habits and since i'm new to mac and using devonthin pro, i may create a master mail archive database and simply move emails into project folder archives in a database such that my actual email is nearly empty excluding active items (as in, a tiny email app with everything else moved to a structured database, instead of trying to turn mail.app into a database...though with mailtags, i could also drop folder as well, but i am concerned that mailtags might break or fall apart with the next release of mail and the os, and i can't bank my business on a small freebie type plugin...no offense to mailtags, it's a great idea, but really seems to be a utility versus a solution for all email archiving...




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