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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...

nolifetillpleather's picture

at work I have to...

at work I have to use thunderbird. I don't like it very much. Here's what I do. I open my mailbox in the morning and start labeling stuff (with the 1 - 5 buttons) I have labels like Important, Later, Needs some info before I can respond, and Done. Then I have a smart folder that pulls in everything that isn't marked Done ( I call the smart folder "Needs some action" because its kind of an innuendo...) and I try to mark everything Done by the end of the day. This leaves everything in my inbox so I can search later. Stuff more than about 30 days old gets moved to The Archives by a filter thing. Full text search is super slow in thunderbird. That's why I only keep about a months worth of email in the inbox, so I can search it reasonably fast. I spend all my time in the Needs Some Action smart folder.




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