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TMO Quick Tip - Smart Mailboxes: Organize Mail by Date

by , 7:30 AM EDT, July 7th, 2008

I get so many email messages that it can get overwhelming trying to keep up with all of incoming information. Instead of giving up and walking away, I turned to Mail's Smart Mailbox feature to auto-organize my messages so I always know what's new, what came in recently, and which messages are probably due for archiving.

I assume that any messages I received at least six months ago probably aren't relevant any more, so they can be archived or deleted. Here's how I made Smart Mailboxes track those messages for me:

  • While in Mail, choose Mailbox > New Smart Mailbox.
  • Select Date Received from the From pop-up menu.
  • Choose is not in the last from the is today pop-up menu.

  • View messages by date range with Smart Folders
  • Enter the number of months back you want to look -- I chose six -- and change the Days pop-up menu to Months.
  • Don't forget to give your new Smart Mailbox a descriptive name, and then click OK.

Since your Smart Mailbox finds messages relative to the current date, it will always auto-update to include messages as they turn six months old.

I group email messages by date.

I also set up Smart Mailboxes to show me messages that I received today, unread email from the past three days, and all of my incoming messages from the past two days. My Smart Mailboxes help me work through messages in manageable chunks, and they help me keep the number of old messages on my Mac from growing out of control.

Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

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