Apple Mail: Creating Automatic Notes with Data Detectors

If you use Apple Mail, you’re probably quite friendly with the awesomeness of data detectors. Introduced in Leopard, this feature means that you can hover over an address, a phone number, or a date (even something like “next Tuesday”) in a message you’ve received, and you’ll get a drop-down menu with all sorts of nifty options for manipulating the information. All without leaving the comfort of Mail!

But here’s an easy way to save even more of the particulars along with your detected data. What you’ll do is select any relevant text of the e-mail before you hover to activate the data detector. Then you’ll click the disclosure triangle to summon your menu.

When you then add your contact to Address Book or your event to iCal, whatever text you highlighted from the e-mail will be inserted into the notes. I find this especially useful when someone gives me specific instructions, like “it’s the house with the red door” or “make sure you bring gumbo.” Like I could ever forget to bring the gumbo.

Here’s the iCal event I ended up with, including my fancy notes. I guess I’m meeting Wil Wheaton on the 16th!