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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...

Brendon's picture

To dbtodd. There is a huge...

To dbtodd. There is a huge difference between have all your email in one folder with 43 different tags and having your emails dispersed among 43 separate folders. 1.) an email can relate to multiple issues and B.) if all your email is in one place it is much easier to find the PERSON who sent it to you. I don't know about anyone else but I remember emails mainly by who sent them to me. I can still have my cough anal cough little filing system with smart folders in mail.app (home) and "search" folder in Outlook (work).


At home I have one folder: Archive

Everything else is done with MailTags.

At work I have 5 folders: 1 Action 2 Respond 3 Waiting for 4 Someday Maybe Archive

That's it. I've memorized the keyboard shortcuts for moving mail around and marking it read/unread etc. It's not as nice as MailActOn but it gets the job done.

That's my email world.




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