MailTags, Mail Act-On and Mail Perspectives

I picked up three Mail.app plug-ins last week that I think the majority of you will like. They are from a company called Indev and although I haven't dived in too deeply, they have already made a difference in how I handle my email day to day.

Mail Tags

MailTags is my favourite of the three, without question. As many of you will know, I'm a huge fan of tags in any system I use and now I have a reason to use Mail.app again, something I've wanted to do for a long time but always found myself drifting back to Airmail. MailTags allows you to tag individual messages and assign them contexts, if that's the way your thinking goes. I love this! Now, processing email is so much easier because my mind is clearer. This comes from the knowledge that I am filing the email in question in a location where I know I am going to be able to revisit it later. As well as tags, you can configure Tickler Dates as well, so if you are a follower of David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology then this app will suit you down to the ground. I've never setup a physical tickler file before, yet now I find myself using them all the time. For the uninitiated, when you assign an object a 'tickler date', you are essentially filing it away temporarily. It will re-appear at a certain date in the future. As an example, I've just ordered my Star Wars VII tickets and received a confirmation email (oh I'm in such a happy mood right now!!). I've assigned the email a tickler date of 14th December as that is when I would like to collect my tickets. It's off my mind now, safe in the knowledge it will re-appear when I need it to. (OK, I've 'double-bagged' this particular task by putting it in OmniFocus as well. Some things are too important to risk going wrong!)

The tag I find myself using most is @Waiting. By applying this tag to the majority of my outgoing messages, I can see at a stroke all messages for which I am waiting on a response and, if required, set a tickler date as a reminder that you need to follow up on them in the future.

Mail Act-On

Mail Act-On is a plug-in that allows you to carry out rule-based processing on incoming and outgoing messages. You may find that when using Mail Tags, you will be repeating tasks. The @Waiting tag I use is a great example. As around 80% of the emails I send are requesting information that I need, I have a Mail Act-On rule configured that will automatically add the @Waiting tag to all outbound emails. You can also delay delivery until a given date in the future if you so wish, something that can come in handy, especially if you don't want people to engage you in email ping-pong.

You can apply tags with a single keystroke, compose emails with pre-defined templates, archive mail and some of the outbound rules you can configure are stunning. I need to dive into this a lot more, however one such rule I have configured is for all communications to a specific client to be BCC'd to my OmniFocus email address. This way, as well as having the @Waiting tag assigned, I also have a copy in OmniFocus. My next task here is to have OmniFocus auto-parse that email with a context, project and estimated duration. I'm planning on using Joe Buhlig's excellent Auto-Parser script for this action.

Just think of the other things that you could do with this. It's a Mac Productivity nerd's dream!

Mail Perspectives

The last plug-in contained within this triumvirate is Mail Perspectives. Here, you are able to create different views for your Inboxes. Let's say you are working for a client and only need to see your email Inbox (or any folder for that matter) that applies to that role, then you can configure a perspective that only displays that mailbox. This gives you that separation of home and work without having to use different applications - something I've been trying to do for a long time.

By default, four windows are displayed - something that completely threw me for a loop when I first installed it. I was confused as to how I went about viewing my Inbox so I recommend that you read the accompanying pdf file you receive with the software for Mail Perspectives. I love the Mail Actions window, as this gives a small, discrete floating window that allows you to complete common tasks such as checking mail or searching.

I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what Mail Perspectives has to offer however I will admit, I've uninstalled it at the moment whilst I work on perfecting my workflow for MailTags and Mail Act-On. Once this is complete, I can then download Mail Perspectives again to tie my Mail processing up with a nice little bow for the next year.

MailTags and Mail Act-On3 retail at $29.95, with Mail Perspectives coming in at $24.95 however there is discount pricing available if you buy all three together - something I believe a lot of you who use Mail in OS X, but experience frustration, will do.