4 Useful Plug-ins to improve Apple Mail

Jackson Chung 05-04-2008

Apple Mail Logo For those who use Apple Mail on Leopard, you will know that it’s a pretty basic e-mail application. It fetches your mail, archives it on your Mac and you might think that it ends there. With a couple of plug-ins however, you could extend the functionality of Apple Mail by miles.


There are a lot of plug-ins out there. A few of them do some pretty cool stuff, and others you probably wouldn’t need. I’m going to focus on four Apple Mail plug-ins which I find to be very useful.


The first is Mailappetizer. This little plug-in lets you preview incoming messages as soon as they are downloaded, without opening Mail. It works pretty much like GrowlMail but a little better. In the notification window, you can choose to mark the message as read or delete it. You could also customize what you would like to see in the notification window, how many levels of quotations to show, which mailbox the messages are coming from, and whether or not to display any headers in the notifications.


Clicking anywhere in the notification window dismisses the current preview and displays the next one. Closing the notification window, well, dismisses all outstanding notifications. Mailappetizer actually rises up from other notification plug-ins in a sense that it allows you to mark your mail as read or delete them on the spot while the preview is showing. It saves just a bit more time since you won’t have to open your mailbox to do it later.

Keep in mind that Mailappetizer for Leopard is still in beta, and you should backup your mail folder and preferences before installing it.



Next up is a nifty plug-in called Letterbox. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy this one. It re-arranges the conventional interface of Apple Mail to show 3 columns, which really takes advantage of wide-screen monitors. It opens up the message viewer to a separate vertical column so reading mail is much easier and quicker.

4 Useful Plug-ins to improve Apple Mail letterbox2

Since I installed this plug-in, my Mail application window stretches across my screen, and I love it because I can see everything at a glance.

Attachment Scanner

Moving on, have you ever sent e-mails without the attachments because you clicked ‘Send’ too eagerly? Attachment Scanner Plugin detects words like ‘attached’ and ‘attachment’ in your e-mail message. And now, when you click ‘Send’ it will scan to see if any files have been attached and will warn you if there aren’t any attachments. It’s pretty useful for those who are forgetful and will help to reduce sending empty/unattached e-mails (and any follow-up apology messages), not to mention avoiding embarrassment if it is a company e-mail.


Mail Attachment Scanner Plugin

Mail Act-On

Lastly, Mail Act-On allows assigning keystrokes to Apple Mail Rules. This plug-in achieves two things: it lets you use keystrokes to activate Rules; and allows you to manually apply Rules to messages. I had to clean the cobwebs off my Rules preferences since I started using this plug-in. How it works is pretty simple. New Rules have to be named with a certain prefix – this will determine the key which will execute the rule.

For example: “Act-On: r | Color Message Red” means pressing the default Act-On menu-key (backtick `) and ‘r’ will change the background of the message to red.

With this plug-in, properly arranging mail into different folders, flagging messages, marking as read/unread, changing message text colors and their backgrounds and possibly any other Mail Rule is as simple as activating the keystrokes.


Explore more about: Apple Mail, Email Tips.

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  1. baker
    January 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I am defiantly going to have to check out the attachment app,


    baker at

  2. Morgaine
    April 9, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    You don't use your rules in Mail?! How do you keep track of things? I have mine color different categories of mail different colors so I can tell at a glance what's important and what isn't.

  3. dave
    April 7, 2008 at 11:04 am

    hey, BIG question for you: how come you chose letterbox over widemail? i've been comparing these two and can't really make up my mind! any idea what the big differences are with these two? they appear to do the same thing...

    • Jackson
      April 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm

      You know Dave, that's a pretty fair question, and the answer is simply non-technical. Their webpages.

      I didn't see any screenshots for Widemail that really made me want to download that app to try. But Letterbox did. So I tried it.

      If they appear to do the same thing, then I guess there's no difference in the 2? It's up to you personal preference in this case. The main aim is to view everything at a glance, no matter which app you choose, so long as you accomplish that.