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How to filter email in Mac OS X Mail with Smart Mailboxes

Mail can sort messages into folders based on rules, so you can see important emails faster

MainAlthough they say email is dying, it is still the most popular way of sending messages via a computer. But the sheer number of emails we receive each day can make it very difficult to keep on top of our inboxes – unless, of course, you have a strict policy of dealing with and deleting emails as and when they arrive.

Smart mailboxes are a great way to be more efficiently organised, though. The messages they contain depend on the criteria you define. You can have smart mailboxes that pull in emails related to a specific project, for example. The actual messages stay in your inbox but the smart mailbox lets you view them without having to manually search. And this way, you don’t have to move messages between mailboxes either.


Step 1

1 Create mailbox

Smart mailboxes display a set of search results, letting you view emails that match a particular term. Click the ‘+’ icon in the mailbox pane and select New Smart Mailbox.

Step 2

2 Set up parameters

A window will appear at the top of the Mail screen giving you options that enable you to customise the way you want your smart mailbox to operate. Give it a name.

Step 3

3 Name mailbox

Now you need to determine whether you want your conditions to be fully or partially matched in order to carry out your order. Simply select any or all from the drop-down menu.

Step 4

4 Any or all

You can set your first rule. Click on Any recipient to see the list of options. If, for example, you want all emails from your boss to be filtered, just select From.

Step 5

5 Set condition

Next you need to indicate the condition under which the rule will operate. The mailbox can, for example, look for any recipient that begins with or ends with a term.

Step 6

6 Input the term

In the final input box, you can input the words or email address that will define your filter. In our case, emails containing the recipient email address selected will be filtered.

Step 7

7 Add more filters

Click on the ‘+’ icon next to the first line and a second line will appear. You can select another filter. This is great if you want your mailbox to contain multiple sources.

Step 8

8 Trash and Sent

Now you can decide if you want to include messages from Trash or the Sent folder in your mailbox. Simply tick the relevant boxes in order to do this and then click OK.

Step 9

9 View mailbox

Our smart mailbox is now complete and you can view it in the left-hand pane of Mail. Right- clicking your new mailbox will let you edit it to add or remove filters and options.

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