43 Folders

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.


Gmail IMAP Settings, Straight from the Google's Mouth

This may not count as a real find since it's on the Google's own support site, but this list of recommended IMAP client settings is interesting in that it differs from many of the Gmail IMAP how-to's I've seen so far.

Regarding Sent mail:

Do NOT save sent messages on the server. If your client is sending mail through Gmail's SMTP server, your sent messages will be automatically copied to the [Gmail]/Sent Mail folder.

...and Junk folders:

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A Week with Leopard's New iCal and Mail.app

While most sensible Mac users were looking forward to cool new features in Leopard like Cover Flow, Quick Look, and Time Machine, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, itching to try out iCal and Mail.app's new to-do list integration. I agree with Merlin's approach to using a bunch of single-purpose applications that are very good at what they do instead of a bloated piece of do-everything-ware like Outlook--"a series of super-sharp paring knives over one monstrous Swiss Army Knife"--as he put it, but I looked forward to a little bit of teamwork between two of the applications I use the most. And boy, am I disappointed.

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Vox Pop: What default settings would you change?

As I am wont to do, I was thinking out loud on Twitter this morning.

Twitter message: 'I wonder how different the world might look if the default 'new meeting' time in calendar programs were 10 minutes instead of 1 hour'

I'm convinced that, for better or worse, a lot of computer-related habits come straight out of using the default settings. For example a stock Mail.app install checks your email every 5 minutes (I reset mine to 'Manual') and, without interdiction, Apple's mail program will also create all your new messages as "Rich Text" (Nuh uh. Mine? 'Plain Text').

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How to use a single Mail.app Archive (without losing your mind)

For some time now, I've encouraged people to consider abandoning the byzantine folder structure that most of us used to employ to "organize" our email. In fact, this kind of functional simplicity is something I've started to think of as a pillar of Inbox Zero.

In addition to helping explode the myth that most email messages have any life once their actions have been liberated, it's a healthy habit to actively remove any unnecessary systematic fiddling that doesn't handsomely pay back the effort that habitually goes into it.

And, as ever: yes, some of you -- because of the incredibly unique nature of your work in an office -- will need to have 500 taxonomic mailboxes, a monthly archives by project, a person-by-person collection going back to 1983, and a multiply-copied CC'd team archives, coded by color and identified with helpful icons you found on Gopher in 1992. Sure, why not. If that's working for you, by all means, keep fiddling and filing.

But, if you're ready to admit you might be turning a crank that's potentially not hooked-up to anything, here's my four favorite ways to leverage the intelligence of Mail.app for drop-dead simple archiving.

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Some handy Mail.app Smart Mailboxes

It took me a while, but ever since I've gotten my head around Smart Folders (and Smart Playlists and Smart Groups, etc.), I've started to think about the way I use my Mac a bit differently.

Clearly iTunes is the winner in this regard (watch for an upcoming multi-part series about Smart Playlists on The Merlin Show), but the Finder, and Address Book, and Mail.app also have an amazing amount of power rumbling under the hood. So, in the interest of spreading the love, here's four Mail.app Smart Mailboxes that have been rocking my world over the last months.

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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.

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Vox Populi: How are you using Mail Tags?

I open the floor to all of you on a question of particular personal interest to me: How are you using Mail Tags?

While my uses of it to date have been helpful, I keep getting the feeling I'm not getting all that I can out of it -- especially since the ability to associate Projects, Priorities, etc. to a message could make for some really enticing Smart Folders.

I wonder if my question is ultimately more taxonomic in nature -- ultimately more about Spotlight in general or Tags in very very general: When tagging items on your Mac, what kind '-onomy' are using? How strictly do you enforce your vocabulary? What are the best practices for someone who's new to this?

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Process email faster with Mail Act-On

My usage of Mail Act-On, while far from novel, has revolutionized the speed with which I can blow through email processing.

If you've never seen it before, Mail Act-On is a very clever Mail.app plugin that lets you create key commands that execute Rules you've generated in your Preferences. Sounds pretty dull, right? Absolutely. Until you start putting this stuff into action and learn how painfully slow all that draggy mc drag drag business is. Here's how I've set mine up.

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Glenn Wolsey: 6 email tips

Glenn Wolsey—6 Ways To Organize - Your Mail Application

Glenn Wolsey has a great little post on how he's set up and is using Mail.app. He's got some very smart stuff here, including an intriguing approach to minimalist mailbox management:

Create 3 folders and name them Follow-Up, Interesting & To Do. Then, as you check your emails file them straight into the applicable folder.

Later, when you have time you can go straight to these folders folder and work through them. It will be much quicker to see what needs attending to and you are more likely to might be motivated to spare a few minutes clearing your to-do folder.

The "Interesting" folder is a new one to me, and, although I personally favor a more verb-y approach to my email buckets, that would be a cool way to bubble up stuff you don't want to miss after a big round of processing.

As we covered in Inbox Zero, it's all about liberating the actions out of your mail. Like any of this stuff, if the system makes sense to you and gives you transparent affordances for instantly knowing "where it goes" and "what you need to do about it," then you're on to something.

Nice work, Glenn!

Open Thread: Leopard Preview

Apple - Apple - Mac OS X - Leopard Sneak Peek

Like most of you, I'm keeping an eye on today's previewed features of the upcoming "Leopard" (OS X 10.5) release.

Looks like some interesting ideas -- many of which, as usual, seem inspired by existing third-party products.

I think I'm most intrigued so far by the idea of "to-do" functionality from within Mail.app (thanks for the tip, Matt); let's hope that also means I can deep link to a given email from my iCal task list. I also welcome the concept of built-in email templates -- although I'm kind of bummed that they seem more focused on execrable 1999-style HTML emails than on the kind of functional time-savers found in the peerless MailTemplate.

To be honest, on first blush -- and I'm sure there's much more to come by the time of release -- this feels a bit cute and a little light on really revolutionary stuff (the long overdue promise of something like Time Machine notwithstanding). Stuff like (yet. more.) iLife integration is handy enough for the notional Swithcher and Grandpa Joe, but in general I guess I'm hoping for some serious power-user improvements to the core functionality. Maybe that's just me.

What do you think? What's "Yeah!" and what's "Meh?" Anybody else holding out hope for some really deep Finder rewriting and more functional iCal updates?

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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