OS X Lion: Track Shipments in Mail

If you’ve ever ordered something online, you have probably been sent a shipping notification with a tracking number. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just click on that tracking number in your email and be able to view the tracking details? With OS X Lion’s Mail, you can.

Through the “data detectors” coded into OS X Lion, Mail is able to detect a tracking number from USPS, UPS, and FedEx. When you hover your mouse over a tracking number Mail detected a dotted rectangle with a pull-down menu appears around that tracking number.

OS X Lion MailClicking into the contextual menu for a tracking number in Mail

If you click the pull-down menu, you’ll find an option labeled “Track Shipment.” Click it, and voilá! Your tracking details, from the carrier, show up in a quick view window.

OS X Lion MailUPS Tracking Information in OS X Lion Mail

The window displaying the tracking information won’t allow you to interact with the shipping Web page, but there is an option to open the page with your default browser. The feature is very helpful for seeing where your new iPad is while it’s being shipped from China or when the textbooks you ordered from Amazon will appear on your doorstep.

In my testing, the feature only works with USPS, UPS, and FedEx shipments. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t allow users to add new data detectors, so our Canadian friends can’t add tracking for Canada Post.