Mac Mail – 5 Plugins That Will Rocket Your Productivity

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mac mail pluginsI have previously covered timesaving features in the latest version of Apple’s Mail client, but despite its improved user interface, search features, favorites bar and VIP folders, there are still missing features Mac power users could use to be more productive in Mail.

Fortunately, there are several third-party plug-ins that enhance Mail and address some of its annoying problems or missing features. Today, I would like to review five plug-ins that I think are well worth downloading and given a try before purchasing. These plug-ins help you handle attachments, preview your messages, and conveniently set reminders for messages.

After you download and install a plug-in, you will typically need to restart the Mail application, and then open Mail’s Preferences to enable and customize the plug-in. Whichever plug-in you download, be sure it’s compatible with your current operating system.

Attachment Tamer

If memory serves me correctly, by default when you add an attachment in a Mail message, it does not display the file as an icon, which can be annoying when you’re trying to compose or read a message. Attachment Tamer ($14.99) is a handy feature for controlling how you want to display attachments in Mail.

mac mail plugins

The plug-in includes controls for viewing text and HTML files, PDF documents, audio files, and images as icons, with optional size limits and exceptions. Sending files as icons also makes it easier for the recipient to read your text without being distracted by a full display of the images themselves.

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Attachment Tamer also provides options for how you want to view files from specified senders — either as icons or displayed as they were sent. You can also choose to display the full names of attachments, which by default Mail truncates.

QuoteFix

By default when you quote text from a sender’s email message, Mail puts the cursor above the message in your reply; this is called “bottom-posting”. This is odd because typically you want the recipient to first read what part of the message you are replying to. The plug-in, QuoteFix (Free/Donate), fixes this annoyance by placing the cursor below the original message when you reply or forward a message.

mac email productivity

Other features include removing the sender’s signature from the reply, removing trailing white space, customizing attributions (including HTML and templating), and selecting whether or not to remove the sender’s signature.

mac email productivity

Spending some time customizing how you want QuoteFix to handle your quotes and replies can make your mail messages a lot easier to read, and could inspire others to use better mail etiquette, rather than the sloppy approach of including full mail messages in a reply.

Perspectives

Since I work at my computer throughout the day, I have a bad tendency of checking my mail whenever new messages arrive. This is still a habit I’m trying to break, but another Mail plug-in I use, called Mail Perspectives ($24.95) helps cut down on how often I open Mail.

Mail Perspectives is a compact window that displays the latest message or most recent message list in your Mail inbox. I have the window sitting on my second monitor where I can glance at it as I work. Mail Perspectives has three embedded windows, which allow you to either view all the mail messages in your inbox, only the new messages, or all the messages for the current day. You can view messages as a list or navigate through a display of each message one at a time.

mac email productivity

You can also hover your mouse over a message and get a pop-up window that allows you to view the entire message outside the compact window, in a handy Quick Look window, or you can reply, print, delete, or open the message in your Mail application.

There are also features for selecting which inboxes you want Mail Perspectives to display, as well as options for how you are notified when mail arrives. This plug-in is a little pricey but it does come with a 30 day free trial so you can see how useful it might be in your workflow.

MailHub

The popular Mailbox app for the iPhone includes a handy feature for attaching a reminder to individual messages, and recently I discovered that another Mail plug-in called MailHub ($19.00), includes the same capability, with additional options for setting template reminders. MailHub does add a toolbar to the Mail application, but you may find its handy features worthy of taking up some space.

The Reminder feature includes options for setting time shortcuts (as well as pre-installed Snooze times) that you can quickly select for a message, or you can set a specific date and time. Your reminders get added in the Calendar app like any other reminder.

email productivity

Some of MailHub’s features are similar to the default features in Mail, but they are quicker and more efficient. For instance, while Mail can expand mail conversations or threads, MailHub does it better by making it easier to click individual messages in a thread.

MailHub also allows you to filter messages by a sender. If you want to quickly review past and recent mail messages by a sender, you simply select a message sender, and then click on the little head and shoulder icon in MailHub’s toolbar. To filter messages like this without MailHub, you have to actually do a search in Mail of the sender’s name.

email productivity

MailHub includes several other features for deleting messages, creating new mailboxes, organizing, and filing away messages into different folders. There are preferences for setting the color theme of MailHub’s toolbar, an option for auto-hiding it, and over a dozen keyboard shortcuts for nearly every feature in the plug-in.

mac mail plugins

MailHub also has a 30-day trial, and I highly recommend it if you need to manage lots of mail on a daily basis.

Many Mail plug-ins are highly useful, but remember they can be broken by updates to the Mail client, and you may even have to uninstall them in order for Mail to function properly. The plug-ins I reviewed above all work in the latest version of Mac OS X Mountain Lion. There are several other free plug-ins that you can find on the net, but you need to make sure they have been updated for the latest version of the operating system you’re using.

Let us know what you think of these Mail plug-ins and which plug-ins you recommend.

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9 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

James Bruce

I think you’ve got it the wrong way around – it’s bad netiquette to reply at the end of messages because it forces people to scroll down and read through everything else before getting to your reply. Modern clients are also fantastic at threading and automatically collapsing the “replied to” bit, so by replying at the bottom you’re just breaking that. Seriously, stop it!

macwitty

Agree, and it get even worse when there is more than one replies and all use different technique to place their reply

Bakari Chavanu

Well my practice is to quote only a line or two so readers don’t have to scroll down. I still get too many emails, including ones from MUO staff (lol) where the entire email text are replied to instead of a specific sentence. For me, the best client is one that includes a quick reply box at the end of messages so you don’t have to hit the reply button. You write a reply and move on.

Numpty

“it’s bad netiquette to reply at the end of messages because it forces people to scroll down and read through everything else before getting to your reply. ”

No, it isn’t. Top-posting has been a pain since the earliest days of usenet, and it’s still a pain today.

James B

Newsflash: usenet isn’t email.

Bakari Chavanu

Okay, guys, lol, it just seems a matter of preference. I’m not sure there’s some hard fast rule either way. So thanks to digital fluidity, we’re not all forced to use features the same way.

Reply

dnk

According to Netiquette Guidelines (RFC 1855 – http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1855 ), a message should begin with an abbreviated summary; i.e. a post should begin with a paraphrasing and/or selective quoting, not “top” nor “bottom” posting. Specifically, it says:

If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting be sure you
summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just
enough text of the original to give a context. This will make
sure readers understand when they start to read your response.
Since NetNews, especially, is proliferated by distributing the
postings from one host to another, it is possible to see a
response to a message before seeing the original. Giving context
helps everyone. But do not include the entire original!

Reply

David

Bakari – thanks for the article. I couldn’t survive without MailHub. I hate having to use a mouse/tablet for most things and it let’s me file / find / organize dozens of emails per day into folders.

James – suggesting top-posting is better netiquette is ridiculous. Do you read books from the end first? As dnk wrote, you should include the bits of the message you’re replying too. The only reason there would be a problem that would “force people to scroll down” is because most people are too clueless or lazy to trim the message they’re replying to and include the whole thing!

If an email conversation is just a bunch of short messages back and forth, then you could get away with what you suggest. But you might as well be using txt/im/etc. If it’s a large conversation, with multiple people, and multiple issues, it only makes sense to reply inline after each point you’re replying to. Since this could get a bit complicated/confusing, it’s helpful to put a quick summary at the top and something like “responses inline below” so recipients know to look. You should also indent/highlight/prefix-with-from-name the trimmed parts of the email you’re responding to so the author attributions are clear. Yes, this can be a pain and I haven’t found any email program (and I’ve used dozens of them since 1980) that makes it easy to do this right.

And, as macwitty wrote, it becomes a real mess when multiple participants in the conversation are replying in different styles. It’s a pain but unlikely to get better since there’s no standard. Back in the early ’90s, MIME came out and spread through email programs just as the Internet was spreading to “normal” people :) This spawned huge wars over plain-text emails (which is all there had been) and pretty emails with fonts and colors and attachments. I spent a few years changing every relative’s copy of Outlook Express to send in plain text. Eventually, I gave up. People will do what the feel like and usually don’t know or care about etiquette or standards.

So, I expect everyone to ignore what I just wrote…

Reply

David

Actually, I found this page looking for a plugging/extension to easily edit received/saved messages. I’ve got thousands of messages going back over 20 years that I have saved in hundreds of folders. For many of them, I only need to save small parts of them (usually removing quoted, previous messages as was being discussed here). Also, a lot of the time, people reply to an email and then write about something totally unrelated so the subject line is wrong and needs to be fixed. I haven’t found an easy way to do this in OSX Mail. Postbox can do this (so can Outlook, but I don’t want to deal with that!). And forwarding a message to myself is not a useful solution since it screws up the headers / dates / threading.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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