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Organize Your Apple Mail With Mailboxes

Create Mailboxes for Individuals or for Categories of Email

By Tom Nelson and Mary F. O'Connor

Create Mailboxes for Individuals or for Categories of Email

You can create folders within mailboxes to organize your email.

Screen shot courtesy Coyote Moon, Inc.

It seems embarrassingly obvious, but one of the easiest ways to keep your email under control is to organize it in folders, or as Apple Mail calls them, mailboxes. Instead of keeping everything in your Inbox, or piled into one or two mailboxes, you can organize your email the same way you organize documents in a file cabinet. Mailboxes are listed in the Mail sidebar.

You can create as many mailboxes as it takes; the number and categories are up to you. You can create mailboxes for individuals, groups, companies, or categories; anything that makes sense for you. You can also create mailboxes within mailboxes, to further organize your email.

For example, if you get a lot of email newsletters, you might create a mailbox called Newsletters. Within the Newsletters mailbox, you can create individual mailboxes for each newsletter or newsletter category, such as Macs, Gardening, and Home Theater. In this tip, we'll create an About: Macs mailbox within a Newsletters mailbox.

Create a New Mailbox

  1. To create a mailbox, select New Mailbox from the Mailbox menu, or click the plus (+) sign at the bottom left of the Mail window and select New Mailbox from the pop-up menu. In the Name field, type Newsletters and click OK.

  2. To create a sub-folder for About: Macs newsletters, click once on the Newsletters mailbox. Select New Mailbox from the Mailbox menu, or click the plus (+) sign at the bottom left of the Mail window and select New Mailbox from the pop-up menu. In the Name field, type About Macs and click OK.

  3. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for the About: Macs newsletter.

When you create mailboxes within a mailbox, you'll notice that the icon for the top-level mailbox changes from a folder to a folder with a right-facing triangle. This is the standard way OS X indicates that a folder or menu contains additional content.

Once you create mailboxes, you can use rules to automatically file incoming email in the appropriate mailboxes, to save time as well as stay organized.

Use Rules in Apple Mail to Keep Your Email Under Control

You can also create Smart Mailboxes to make it easier to find messages.

Find Messages Faster in Apple Mail With Smart Mailboxes

Move Existing Messages to New Mailboxes

  1. To move existing messages to new mailboxes, just click and drag the messages to the target mailbox. You can also move messages by right-clicking on a message or group of messages and selecting Move To from the pop-up menu. Select the appropriate mailbox from the pop-up menu and release the mouse button.

  2. You can also move existing messages to new mailboxes by creating and applying rules.

Use Rules in Apple Mail to Keep Your Email Under Control

If you want to put a copy of a message in a new mailbox while leaving the original in place, hold down the option key as you drag the message or group of messages to the target mailbox.

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