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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...

Preben Carlsen's picture

I'm using Entourage and beside...

I'm using Entourage and beside the GTD folders, I'm having more than 150 folders, one for each customer or private contact I'm having.

For the most contacts I have made an outgoing rule that after sending moves the mail to the appropiate folder and stripping the mail for any kind of attachment. Thanks to this method I have more than 75.000 e-mails taking no more than 400 Mb. Actually only e-mails that I'm processing in the inbox og GTD-folders have attachment. As soon as I'm ready to file a message in a folder, I move attachments to appropiate custom or project folders on my harddrive.

My +150 mail folders in Entourage serves me well when searching since I point out the desired customer folder before starting search. And mostly I find the desired message right away because it is listed at the top of my customer mail folder in Entourage.




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